A couple of days ago I learned that a friend and former colleague of mine, Steve Jacobson, with whom I worked at Horizon Organic, had died of cancer. Whenever I hear of the passing of anyone I knew, I feel like that individual is sending me a reminder about how brief our time is on earth, and to make the most of it by making every day as worthwhile and enjoyable an experience as possible. But in Steve’s case I feel compelled to write my own epitaph for a guy who not only expanded Horizon’s horizons, but those of the entire organic industry, and in doing so set the stage for some of my own more rewarding endeavors in life.
Steve was a very smart individual who was largely responsible for the success of both Horizon Organic and the expansion of the organic movement – one of the key players in the industry, who, during his tenure as head of the company’s operations, helped make the whole proposition feasible. In fact, I am convinced that without Steve, Horizon and other organic brands and products would have nowhere near the market share they enjoy today. Of course, people like Steve, who do their work behind the scenes, seldom get the credit they deserve – they’re more like football linemen whose names you never remember, while the running back gets the glory. But Steve’s strategy was the secret sauce that was largely responsible for making Horizon the successful operation it became, even though the recognition for it went mostly to the people in marketing and sales.
The initial problem for Horizon was while they could sell all the organic milk they could produce, shipping it around the country was extremely expensive. Steve was the one who came up with the solution to this dilemma by creating a logistics network that actually worked – a feat that very few people could pull off. So to Steve, I give my posthumous Unsung Hero Award. In fact, thinking about what he was able to accomplish made me realize how sometimes one has to simply “take the plunge” in pursuit of a worthwhile objective, which in turn inspired me to engage in the symbolic tribute of plunging into a freezing ocean as a revitalizing salute to Steve and to life.
Thank you, my friend, for everything you did to help make the earth more livable while you were here – and to help us in carrying on the effort. — Anthony