23 Aug Remembering Jason Stricker: Friendships, Opportunities and Legacy
Writing this blog, these words about a dear friend, is hard but also healing. Each quarter BEMA focuses on a content theme, and while I would certainly move away from that theme in a situation as sad, unexpected and personal as losing Jason, I don’t want or need to. Our current theme is creation, and Jason was a creator. He created friendships, opportunities and a legacy that will live on.
People loved being around and working with Jason. At his memorial services I was blown away by the number of photos that were displayed and posted. Treasured memories captured. All of them a demonstration of Jason’s dedication to family, friends and furbabies, and his love of living life to the fullest.
Since Jason’s passing, I’ve talked to so many people about him and have read things friends have written about him. Often it was the steady nature of the relationship and deep conversations people had with Jason that stood out. How they felt his support, his mentorship and his heart to serve others. Jason’s friends have used many words to describe him: kind, humble, charismatic, hardworking, no-nonsense. He made everything better and I’ve heard it said he was often thought of as “the glue”. Close friend, acquaintance or competitor, Jason was trusted and valued by many.
Jason made a positive, meaningful and lasting impression on those around him. Jason had a significant rise in responsibility during his career at Shick. Planting seeds as an account executive, growing into sales manager and eventually blooming into the Vice President of Sales and Marketing; he had a unique ability to learn, maintain coachability, adapt, tackle new challenges and elevate his evolving leadership style. These are all traits he was keen to pass along to others in the industry ripe for opportunity.
Along the way, he began serving the baking industry as a volunteer. Once he got a taste for it, he dug in with all his energy. Jason spent several years on BEMA’s Baking Industry Forum where he made a tremendous impact. He also served on BEMA’s Convention & Programs committee inviting bakers and speakers to our June Convention. Most recently, just this June, he was elected to the BEMA Board of Directors. We looked so forward to Jason diving into that next challenge; utilizing his new opportunity to pass along opportunity to others. He liked making a difference, impacting an organization, making things better.
His work was selfless. His work was for the right reasons. The many he mentored are better because of it and they now carry the torch that represents his work ethic and willingness to give and lead.
Jason and I have history. My career in the baking industry began at Shick where I knew his father and knew Jason when he was in his late teens. His father, David, was a major influence at Shick because of his leadership, tenacity, and no-nonsense approach to work. Shortly after Dave passed, Shick established the Dave Stricker Award which is given annually to an outstanding employee. In interacting with Jason over the past 20 years, he and his dad exemplified many of the same characteristics: direct approach, outstanding leadership, and tenacity. But Jason certainly had his own leadership style. He was kind, considerate of others, took time to mentor people, had a knack for saying the right thing or seeing a solution to a problem.
The Stricker legacy will live on, but Jason’s passing leaves a huge void at Shick, at BEMA and in the industry but most importantly in so many lives. I guess that is what we want in our friends and leaders, a huge hole when they leave. Customers and colleagues talked about his impressive comprehensive knowledge of processes and how he stuck with them through the good and challenges of a project, maintaining focus on the long-term relationship. I know I am one of many who feels their time with Jason was cut far too short.
Jason was the creator of friendships, opportunities, an impressive legacy, and countless memories. So many people loved Jason and were drawn to his personality, character, wisdom, work ethic and humor. We will really, really miss you, Jason.