Twenty Five years ago i placed a young man with a state cattle feeding organization. He quickly rose to head of their marketing department. He moved on to manage a large cattle feeding operation in the South. I was contacted by the representative of an international meat production corporation from Japan who needed a U. S. manager for their operations they wanted to open in the United States. I tracked this outstanding young man down and presented him to my Japanese client. It was a match made by the recruiting gods in part because he had spent a summer in Japan working with a youth group at the foot of Mt. Fugi.
For twelve years he represented the international group in all phases of opening a production facility that become one of the best in the industry. We worked together when he needed to hire as they grew or replace (which was not often). He bridged cultural gaps, became part of a community that was not initially thrilled to have a pork production facility in their backyard. Some folks credited him with almost changing the direction of the West Texas wind to be sure that the folks in the closest town didn't even know the facility was there. He could put on a suit and meet with the politicians or prop his boot on a pickup bumper and visit with a farmer and all knew that he was a man of integrity.
Eight years ago he and a partner had the opportunity to buy a beef packing plant. His dream of owning his own facility in the industry he loved was realized. We worked together again and i had the opportunity that we have as recruiters to help a candidate who became a friend and client build a business. Three weeks ago i got a call from him that due to a person moving he needed my help to find an accountant. We started again to do what we have done together for the past twenty-five years, find just the right person. I was to call him this afternoon to discuss the status of interviews and candidates.
At 7:30 this morning i received an email and a link to an article about a tragic automobile accident that happened yesterday afternoon in Oklahoma. Don Clift and his wife Jana were killed in a head on horrific accident. The day has been a long one. I talked to candidates who had been interviewed, business associates, friends.
As i have gone through the motions of today, i have thought about all the people's lives he touched, the good things he did, how hard he worked and what a pleasure it was to have been a part of his career for so many years. The secrets we shared about business and the stories we told about people and things that happened through the years in several different business settings. It was difficult erasing the voice message left last week.
I will miss you Don and i will miss working with you. I don't know why things happen the way they do but my life and my business were better because of people like you. Not once, ever ,in all these years did anyone ever say a bad word about you and i never heard you say a bad word about anybody. Not one. Would that we could all have that kind of eulogy. I have things handled for the moment. I wish you were here to advise me what to do next. Adios my friend.