Joe Maas contends that if you surveyed a hundred people 20 or 30 years into successful careers, half might say they aren’t doing professionally what they studied in college. Joe himself is Exhibit A -- trained to supply pharmaceuticals to the sick, yet dedicated to supplying hamburgers to the hungry.
"I’m a card-carrying, licensed pharmacist, but I haven’t practiced pharmacy in almost 20 years," says Maas, Pharm '81. Instead, he found himself drawn to the family business that his father, Jack, started more than a half-century ago and which eventually became the international JTM Food Group. As vice president of manufacturing and production, Joe oversees the operations of the $110 million company based in Harrison, Ohio.
Maas' educational and professional paths were a function of family, finances and foodstuffs. His father and uncle owned the Delhi Horn of Plenty pony keg on Cincinnati's west side. Pony kegs were essentially small, neighborhood, family-owned grocery stores of a couple generations ago.
The family lost the store and Joe's brother, Mike, to a fire in 1970. The store was reopened in a new location as Jack Maas Meats as Joe was about to enter Elder High School. He had expected to continue working alongside his father and another brother after high school, but his father gave him an economics lesson.
"Dad sat me down and said, 'You can't stay in the meat store. It's barely supporting your brother and me. You need to go do something else.'"
His father suggested college, and that meant UC for a hard-working family of modest means. So Maas became a first-generation college student, continuing to work full time in the meat store while commuting to classes that would prepare him for a different career.