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When I stopped working with manufacturing food after 22 years in the industry I thought that my goal would be to spend my time helping people — volunteering at charities, schools, church, and mentoring people regarding their finances. But before I would make such a drastic transition from working 18 hours a day, seven days a week to a new career, I needed a break both physically and mentally.

My wife and I thought about many different summer trips we could take with our family. Going to Alaska had been a dream for us since we were young. We almost put it off, reasoning that we could go the following year; after all, it cost a lot of money, the kids would miss some sporting events, and we would need someone to take care of our animals. I can say it was definitely well-worth what it took to make it happen—budgeting (and I don’t mean fast food all the time), shopping and adjusting plans along the way…sleeping in tents just added to the Adventure.

Helping People in a Different Way Than Planned

Before our return from Alaska and my transition to a new career, I was fortunate to have to an opportunity to make use of my Food Manufacturing Expertise background, and my interest in making a positive impact in the world. The technology I got involved with immediately struck me as having tremendous potential to help on the safety and health fronts. So Service Cold Storage and I partnered in an X-Ray Company as an extension of the Special Services they currently offer in the town where I live.

You see, I had never planned to get into this specific line of work, but there were multiple customers that I had worked with in the past, who clearly could benefit from X-Ray inspection services. It seemed like a natural path. We were blessed to have a point of difference in the industry where we could store the customers’ products at our USDA and FDA approved facility. Without being USDA approved a company would not be able to handle meat and poultry products (which generally have high potential for foreign materials like bone and metal). 

Also, we would be the only ones in the industry who would have a food grade X-Ray inspecting line for bulk products to allow a more sensitive inspection process. Having a food grade line is important to manufacturers because many do not have a way to re-inspect bulk products. However, whenever you have a food contact on a line it must be clean and sanitary from a food safety standpoint. That is why at Service Cold Storage we do micro testing to assure our cleaning effectiveness of the line.

Realizing That We Were Helping and Protecting Families and Children

After our company started, we had several runs of product where we found multiple pieces of foreign material. By FDA standards the findings were considered hazards and would have injured people eventually. These findings confirmed the work we were doing would make a meaningful contribution toward protecting families and their children from foreign material. It gave me a tremendous sense of satisfaction.

Seizing the Moment

I had not planned Foreign Material Inspection as a career, but sometimes as we know things come up and we need to seize the moment. The trip to Alaska was a once in a lifetime adventure. I feel the children will eventually look back in awe at our experiences, and the fact that we were able to make the journey, given both the time involved as well as the money.

Sometimes you just need to take a risk and make a change knowing there are greater plans in store for you. So next time you want to help people, just remember that your idea of what it means to help may get changed along the way. Sometimes you may even be protecting families and their children.



Written by: Chris Hetherman