I had the pleasure of touring the Wisconsin based plant of GLK Foods, the world’s largest producer of sauerkraut. Ryan Downs, the president of GLK, gave me a spectacular guided tour of their facility in Bear Creek, Wisconsin. What does that have to do with anything? Absolutely nothing. This sounds like a Seinfeld episode…
Learning experiences are all around us, each and every day, if we just take the time to slow down and pay attention. Sauerkraut starts with fresh cabbage, but that is as close a link as we get to fresh. It is trimmed, cored, shredded and fermented. Then after 5 days to 5 months in the brine, it gets briefly cooked and hustled off to a waiting can or jar. It will last longer than a Twinkie and is much better for you.
While the actual process is far removed from most of the daily activities in the fresh produce world, the innovation and commitment are the same. Ryan was as passionate about sauerkraut as any human being on the planet. I met an equally passionate crew at Douglas Dynamics a couple of weeks ago – they make Western snowplows. That tour had absolutely nothing to do with fresh produce, but it brought a completely different perspective on the manufacturing type processes that we carry on with.
Welding and powder coating steel is not at all like washing and color sorting tomatoes, but in the end, we are providing a product that our customer wants to buy from us. Doing the job with passion and integrity is what we should be concerned with.