|Denice and Robert Simpson speak to members of the International Business Club at Palm Beach Atlantic University.|
Robert Simpson and his wife, Denice, came to the International Business Club meeting at Palm Beach Atlantic University on Thursday carrying a priceless visual aid — a framed display case containing currency from the many countries they have visited over the years.
“I’ve worn out four passports,” said Simpson, president of Palm Beach Motor Cars and chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees. “I think I’ve been almost everywhere in the world.”
The Simpsons spoke to about 25 undergraduates, alumni and graduate students about their experiences living abroad, mostly during the early years of their marriage. At that time, Simpson was working as an engineer for CBI Industries, a company that performed design engineering, fabrication of materials and installation of structures such as storage tanks and vessels, pressure vessels, piping systems, off shore oil drilling platforms, penstocks for electricity generation at dams, nuclear containment vessels at nuclear power plants, water towers and other structures.
Denice Simpson recalled being elated when she learned their first move would be to London because they knew the language, the Louisiana native said.
Still, the culture shock was profound at first, she said. “Yes, there are different customs there,” she said.
There were no supermarkets, for instance, so grocery shopping involved visiting several merchants, she said.
|Robert Simpson exhibits a collection of currency from the different countries he and his family have visited.|
After two years in London, the couple moved to Saudi Arabia, where they remained for five years. Although she wasn’t required to wear the head covering that many Saudi women wore, Denice Simpson said she did adhere to local customs about modest dress.
The work week was 60 hours, Simpson recalled, but there was still time to play tennis and to go on skiing vacations in Europe. Also their first two children were born while they were living there, he said.
“We were as busy in Saudi Arabia as we’ve been anywhere in our lives,” he said.
The company later moved them to Paris for a year. “It was just a joy being able to enjoy the culture,” Denice Simpson said, adding that her efforts to speak the language were well received by the Parisians she encountered.
In 1997, the Simpsons moved to West Palm Beach to help with the family business, Palm Beach Motor Cars, which Simpson’s father started with a partner in 1979. Today, Simpson runs the company with his brother, Mark. Recently Palm Beach Motor Cars was named a top award winner for its Jaguar and Land Rover divisions, he said.
In all, Simpson has visited about 35 countries, and his family has moved about 12 times. Simpson encouraged students to live and work internationally if given the opportunity.
“When you travel abroad, you begin to understand what a great nation this is,” Simpson said. “This land is truly blessed by God.”