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Body and Soul: Faith directs steps of JTM President/CEO

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Tony Maas, president and CEO of JTM Food Group, asked Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr to bless the groundbreaking for the Harrison Company's $26.1 million expansion. (Courtesy Photo)
Tony Maas, president and CEO of JTM Food Group, asked Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr to bless the groundbreaking for the Harrison Company’s $26.1 million expansion. (Courtesy Photo)

“The greatest gift we’ve got in life is being Catholic.”

Tony Maas begins every day with an hour of reflecting on Scripture readings, journaling and asking our Lord to direct his steps.

Maas is president and chief executive officer of JTM Food Group in Harrison. The company earned $165 million in 2016. Maas insists the meetings at one of the nation’s largest food manufacturers employing 475, start with a prayer.

The company’s success is evident with a $26.1 million expansion of its Harrison facility with a groundbreaking in January. Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr blessed the site. Maas invited him.

“This is the first time I’ve done this,” Archbishop Schnurr said. “Tony is a man of deep, deep faith.” He commits this company — the profits of this company — to further the teachings of Christ. That’s pretty impressive.”

Maas wears his faith on his sleeve. He promotes his Right-to-Life commitment with ads on the back of company trucks. The company provides significant financial assistance to The Athenaeum of Ohio housing Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West and the archdiocese’s graduate school of theology.

The company founded and funds The Underground in Forest Park, Ruah Woods in Green Township and BLOC Ministries in Westwood — all Catholic faith-centered ministries.

“I’ve been blessed to be brought up in a Catholic family,” Maas said. “We were blessed to grow up and have a little butcher shop and my grandfather worked with us every day. That was in Delhi Township. I went to Our Lady of Victory and Elder (High School)and I learned all the principles of the faith: the only thing that matters is the salvation of souls and your own would be part parcel of that. The greatest gift we’ve got in life is being Catholic.”

“I had a significant experience in 1996 when I went to a Cursillo (a movement dedicated to spreading the word of God and helping people form a closer relationship with Jesus)… I thought I was in really great shape. I was a good, faithful guy with wife and kids and I went to church all the time and worked in charitable work with pro-life stuff mainly…. I learned at Cursillo that I had a long way to go.” Maas said.

“I learned emphatically that the Holy Spirit is in my life and that drove me to do a lot of different things… The most profound thing … was to spend a part of every day for the rest of my life in communion with the Lord and first starting with reading a daily Scripture and reflecting and journaling and praying so at this point I have not missed a day since October, 1996.

“Once you are real with the Lord,…there’s nothing done in secret. He knows all… I did not want to have any private agendas. You can’t separate your life when you’re truly walking with the Lord. There’s not a separation in life — being a husband, being a dad, being a businessman, being a friend in the community. No matter what you’re doing, if you’re dedicating your life to Jesus and His church — which I am trying to do — you would put that on everything you’re doing. You have to really try hard to make your life an open book. It’s extremely important and by doing it, God has blessed us immensely.”

“Having pictures of babies on the backs of our trucks, being transparent about our organization that prays before meetings, we acknowledge God in everything we do,” Maas said.

“JTM is my number one ministry. Without it being successful, I can’t do anything else… With this new goal of putting up a new manufacturing distribution center, we switched from the idea of a car race to a rocket ship,” Maas said. “It’s for business growth. We are making a decision for 50 years. We are family owned and operated and this decision is being made for the next generation as well as for us, and for our 475 employees, for all of our customers, and certainly for all of the charities that rely upon us. We believe in tithing as well. We’ve tied that to the business from the inception.”

“We started JTM in 1980 with the idea of bringing good, homemade items to restaurants to becoming a federally inspected, processing facility. We came out to Harrison in October 1983.”

“Our biggest business is the school lunch program. We are the number two provider of school lunch foods to the United States. We sell national restaurant chains (and)… national food service distributors. We sell to the military. We sell product overseas to the troops serving abroad and we also still have our retail business.”

With contributions from JTM, three ministries were born. ” We are proactive,” Maas said. “We’re leading these different ministries, and we are really trying to make a difference ± what God has called us directly to do.”

* The Underground: “The underground (is)dedicated to the time St. John Paul came out at the end of the ’90s… (and) was talking about … one resounding theme — a new springtime for Christianity. It was a time for looking to be more ecumenical — working with all Christian brothers and sisters but also looking at the media and looking at what it was doing to culture… St. John Paul made a point that the media wasn’t necessarily bad or good. The motivation came to start our own ministry that would provide good wholesome programming based on Jesus Christ, was pro-life (with)… redeeming issues that young people could grow up in the media and make a difference in some way. We use (the Underground) as an education center for people interested in the media business. How to be hosts, writers, filmmakers, editors. We’ve done this since 2000 actually, and it’s also a nightclub for kids looking for a place to go on Friday and Saturday.”

* Ruah Woods: “We started Ruah Woods in 2007. It is dedicated to the propagation of teaching the theology of the body. That’s very near and dear to us. We believe marriage and family is the rock of society. It’s a huge ministry and we are working closely with the archdiocese… We have been mandated by the archdiocese that the theology of the body be taught in the curriculum program kindergarten through 12th grade. Our team (is) … writing curriculum to promulgate the teaching of the theology of the body.

* BLOC Ministries: The ministry works with those in drug addiction and prostitution.

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