In the weeks leading to Easter I decided to pull out an old book that I read 15 years ago. The book is called Purpose Driven Life and it is a 42 day journey of reading one chapter a day and learning about our purpose here on earth. On day 28 the topic was “the process of maturity.”  I have to be honest that it was one of my favorite days for two reasons; first, because I think the subject is fascinating. Second, because Rick Warren, the author, used the analogy of food to make his point. Of course, any analogy centered on food certainly grabs my attention and helps me understand the lesson in a much deeper way.  After all, at JD and CMP, “it is all about food!”

It is interesting that real maturity takes time. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, if we try to ripen them quickly, they lose their flavor. In America, much of the produce is picked before it is mature and then it is taken through a process of accelerated maturity. Tomatoes, for instance, are picked when they are green and then before they are sold they are sprayed with CO2 gas to turn them red instantly.  Companies like OK Produce have huge banana rooms that are climate controlled to ripen the bananas faster and get them out to market quickly from an unripe state. The process causes the fruit to lose some of its flavor that it would have had if it were allowed to mature naturally. It made me think that I have probably never in my life tasted the true flavor of a banana!  How heartbreaking!  This concept translates to our proteins as well. We all know beef that is “aged” has a higher flavor profile than beef that is not allowed to mature. The natural process of maturity enhances the flavor profile so we can enjoy the ideal flavor of whatever we are eating. This is such a fascinating concept especially as we apply it to our own lives.

Shortcuts just do not work when it comes to maturity. Whether it is our own maturity or even the maturity of our business, the ultimate flavor is produced when we allow time to help us grow. We have all seen examples of people that have tried to take shortcuts in life to get to a destination too quickly.  The result is usually brokenness; broken relationships, broken trust, broken emotions, or a broken spirit.  Companies that try to take shortcuts to avoid the maturity process often just end up “broke.”  True flavor takes time. We just can’t get around it. If we try to accelerate the process, life often loses its flavor.

As I am writing this, JD has officially moved into their new building and CMP has officially taken over the Commerce facility. I have watched both companies mature into solid organizations that have a flavor that is robust and enticing to customers, suppliers, and employees. I am one of those. I love these companies and I am honored to work with such a great team that makes up the heartbeat of JD and CMP.  Each month, I meet with a group of guys that have breakfast together and talk about what we need to do to be the best we can be.  We call it the “Breakfast Crew.”  In a sense, we are helping one another mature.  We are learning from one another and talking about the best ways to navigate life.  We usually have 8-16 guy’s show up each month, but all are welcome. It is through relationships like these that maturity takes on its natural course.

Being in the food business, we are well aware of a warning when it comes to maturity. If food is not used for its intended purpose when it reaches maturity, it rots. This is why we must not sit back and wait for life to happen. We must realize that maturity is an active process and not a destination. We must do something.  We must use what we know and the experiences we have had to take the next step. We must allow as many as possible to experience the flavor of who we are. This is what allows us to make a difference in this world and the next. I am grateful for the flavor that we produce in our community and our world. Personally, I think we are a culinary masterpiece!

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