News and Stories

Making the Good Life Possible

November 21, 2012

Aerial view of the Great Lakes Naval Training Center


As I write this, it’s the day after Veterans Day and Thanksgiving is but two weeks away. Perhaps it’s the weather, with the dramatic change from our hot early fall days to this morning’s first frost… perhaps it’s reflecting on the veterans that served in the armed forces, that gave each of us the freedoms we enjoy—including the freedom to elect our next president…perhaps it’s the remembrance of holidays past and family gathered around a turkey. But my thoughts today are all about gratitude for those that make this good life possible. 


I recently had the privilege of touring the Naval Station Great Lakes located in North Chicago, Illinois. This is the Navy’s only boot camp and its largest training station. At any given time, there are 8,500 recruits on campus for eight weeks of training. As we toured the property, the women and men were so impressive—disciplined, focused, spotless, serious, respectful. It made me have renewed faith in our country. 


We were hosted by the Great Lakes Goodwill. Yes, that Goodwill – of used clothing and furniture stores. Goodwill has the contract for foodservice, food concessions, landscaping, and even janitorial services.


Goodwill applied Six Sigma and Kaizen disciplines to standardize procedures, reduce costs, and make the operations more efficient. And the really impressive part? Goodwill employs 1,200 people, of whom 75% are disabled. As we walked through the kitchen, cafeterias, around the grounds, we could not discern those that are vision impaired, mentally impaired, or hearing impaired. Through the disciple of streamlined procedures and building design, an individual that is blind can work in one kitchen today and another one tomorrow, because they are all the same. What a wonderful example of meeting handicapped people’s needs while at the same time meeting the needs of the military for efficient, cost-effective operations! A true win-win.


Did I mention that the Great Lakes Naval Station is a Markon customer? It made me proud to see our products in their kitchens, on the tables, and being enjoyed in meals. Okay, maybe it’s a stretch to say Markon is keeping our country safe… but it would be fair to say that a healthy military means a safer America, and we are doing our part by providing safe, nutritious products. 


With gratitude for those that serve and protect,


Tim York