AFTER DENISE, SCOTT, AND RAY LEFT GARDEN FRESH that day, it took another month and a half to finalize the purchase agreement, which ended up being over 100 pages long, and close our deal.

When the deal finally did close, Jack wasn’t even with us. He was on a five-hour layover at JFK waiting to board a flight to Detroit, as he had spent the weekend playing softball in the Dominican Republic.

Not that it mattered, for no one was in a celebratory mood. Instead, a sense of relief ruled the moment.

It had been just over nine months since my first meeting with Jeff Dunn and Scott Laporta in Santa Monica. More than six months since Ray Liguori flew to Detroit to present Campbell’s initial offer.

“The longest six months of my life,” Jack told me.

“I hated it all”, Annette has since said.

I understood how they felt.

One would think selling your company and finally realizing the pot of gold at the end of that entrepreneurial rainbow would be a wonderful experience. In fact, it’s the antithesis of that.

We all knew that going in, based on our previous experiences with Nestlé and Pepsi. In a deal of this nature, once you agree to a price you’re automatically thrust into a position of defending it.

We defended it as best we could for those long six months that Jack referenced.

It had been a bruising process, and we all needed time to heal.

The feeling in our Garden Fresh C-suite, though, was in stark contrast to the response we were getting from the metro Detroit community.

Once ...

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