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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

My responsibility at the dairy increases

I had fifteen years of diary production experience and had seen this industry change from milk brought in from the farms in milk cans to a procedure I wouldn't have thought I ever would be involved in. It showed me that every day was a big challenge in my life, and to be successful I had to go along with it regardless of the long hours I had to spend at work.

Since our plant became a show place of the future dairy industry, many large companies involved in the food industry wanted to see our operation. All of this put a lot of strain on the plant management a everything around the production line had to be neat and clean. The first year our new plant was opened we had groups of people coming through the plant every day. I hated it as I was always obligated to speak to those people about our quality control program. I was never much of a public speaker, I'd rather work steadily on my job and go home for the day. I had no choice as it was my job.

I spoke in front of the Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. dairy technical society. Most of the members were top managers in other dairy production plants. Teaching professors from around the area's universities I had to outline our quality control program. The board members of Southland Corporation came to visit our new plant and I had to speak to him all about our quality control program. Many people from different companies from all around the world came to see our modern plant operation. From the Netherlands our General Manager introduced me to a group of people from the Netherlands Institute for Dairy Research under the direction of Dr. W.Y. Aalbersberg and his deputy. My General Manager said since you speak Dutch, show them our computerized operation. I was bombarded with all kinds of technical questions in Dutch. What my General Manager didn't know was that I never worked in Holland in the dairy business. It was very difficult for me to translate our plant procedure into the Dutch language. I did the best I could and I was invited to their Dairy Research institute whenever I visited Holland. We had people from South Africa visiting our plant and I was able to converse with them in their language. Whenever a German speaking group toured our plant I was able to converse. All of this put a lot of pressure and strain on me. My job became very challenging as I had to know what I was talking about. In a very short time I had to get to know all the details of our very sophisticated plant operation. I spent many hours at home until late in the night studying our plant procedure, and wrote speech reports about our quality control procedures. Even when I took the long ride to work I always had a written sheet of paper about our plant operation lying next to me in the seat so I could study it on my way to work. It took me almost one hour to get to work, and in that hour I could collect a lot of information about our new plant. At that time I had to get as much knowledge about our operation in the shortest time I could. So every spare time off work, every minute, I used to collect very important details about our operation. Somehow every day I had to be prepared for a lecture or speech.

At my work I always wore a white uniform, and most people who came to visit our plant and I came in contact with always thought that I was a college graduate with a degree in food business. One day a businessman came to visit our plant and later on came to ask me about certain things about our products. After our conversation he said to me, "Sir, you must be a graduate from one of the Universities in this area". Since I never graduated from any school, I just took night courses in some of the colleges. I didn't want to lower my position because I noticed this man I spoke to had high expectations. So very down-to-earth I said, "No sir, I graduated in Holland". He said, "I know they have some fine universities". After he said that I kept very quiet. I had to be very diplomatic in my work because I had to deal with people daily. Somehow I learned very fast how to speak to people and protect my own position. Whenever I had to talk to a group of people whom I knew were very intellectual and were in the same business as I was but had more theoretical background of schooling, I always gave them a little hint in my first sentence of speech to let them know somehow what my background was. I always told them that I was not a man of speech, but a man of action. After I finished my speech I always would receive compliments about how they enjoyed listening to me.

Southland Corporation had built this new Embassy production plant to become one of the biggest competitors around the Maryland, Virginia, and the Washington D.C. areas in dairy products, fruit juices, and drinks. We were always told they didn't build a seven million dollar production plant to lose money on. In the 24 years I worked for Southland Corporation, from a 320 million dollar business it went above a 5 billion dollar business a year. Seven-Eleven stores were opening all over the country and even in some countries overseas. Japan became very popular with Seven-Eleven stores.

CONTINUED: The workload at the dairy increases
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

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