CLEBURNE — Less than a mile from the Chisholm Park Tollway, Boval BioSolutions stands alone against the broad Texas sky. Surrounded by a stretch of rolling pastures and dirt roads, the unassuming brick building hides in plain sight. You’d never suspect that the humble structure — no larger than the average post office — is home to a premier bioengineering facility. Cleburne is known for its rustic charm, not its vibrant medical practice. But it also houses one of the world’s top producers of Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA).
Boval, one of several brands under Lifecycle Biotechnologies, has been manufacturing medical products for nearly 40 years. Their clients include blood banks, cell culture/regenerative medicine, diagnostics, research laboratories, and pharmaceutical manufacturers and their work is essential to the development of medical technology and curative treatments.
Which makes it pretty astounding that they would shut down the entire office to restore a home in their community.
More Than a Check
Cody Yarborough, who owns the Cleburne-based company, has been part of the Cleburne community since 2004. His wife is a local leader in the King’s Daughters, a service organization with roots that stretch back to the 1920s. She was the first in the family to stumble onto 6 Stones and the work we do in Cleburne. The Yarborough family volunteered in one Community Powered Revitalization (CPR) blitz, and Cody was hooked.
“We wanted to find a way to participate, not just write a check,” Yarborough said. “It was important for us to find some connection to our community that we work in.”
So, at the next opportunity, his company shut its doors for the entirety of our last CPR blitz in Cleburne. Boval is a small operation with a powerful punch; their entire team — including administrative, manufacturing, and laboratory staff — barely cracks a dozen. For a company that size, a single home renovation was a weekend’s worth of work. But that labor made a huge difference for a single mother and her kids.
The Restaurant Down the Street
Without any prior planning, Boval employees found themselves shaking a familiar hand to kick off their weekend of volunteerism. Sonya, the homeowner they served, had been their waitress for years. Her restaurant is one of the closest to their office, and many of them are regular customers. That connection made the weekend transformative for Rachel Mitchell, Boval’s General Manager. Her worldview changed as the team worked, shoulder-to-shoulder with Sonya, to repair the home.
“A lot of times, we get stuck in a routine. We drive back and forth from work to home, and we think about our daily lives and the things that we have or that maybe we don’t have,” Mitchell said. “[when you volunteer], it really hits home and makes you not take anything for granted in your own life.”
“For a small town like Cleburne, it’s amazing. You have all of these people — individuals, or maybe they are working for a company or a church organization — just come together in a short weekend to make a huge change for one family.”
Stories, Not Strangers
For Jalea Seals, the experience was even more personal. At the time of the renovation her job centered around the acquisitions process, Seals originally joined the company as a lab technician. Her family battled poverty in her youth, often relying on food pantries to survive. For her, poverty was not a foreign concept to explore. It was a distant-but-formative memory. A shared experience.
“We do a lot of analytical and thinking work here,” Seals said. “To get into the physical labor, to see people who are working physically harder than us and, then, living a different lifestyle — they are content and hard-workers, appreciative of what they have — I really was changed by that perspective, that reminder.”
For Seals, the weekend of service was stirring. As a child, her mother had to barter for a can opener so that the family could make use of the canned food donations they received. The chance to help someone in a similar position carried a certain poetic appeal.
“We were two human beings with two stories that were connecting, as opposed to two people that were Consumers or Providers,” she said, before drawing on her chemistry background to expound upon the catalytic imagery behind 6 Stones.
“The cool thing about a catalyst is that it ignites a change, but then it is left over to still do more work. The idea of hope, which is incredibly powerful — that things don’t always have to be the way that they are — that was a very life-giving activity for our company and for us, individually.”
A Community Company
Individual transformations are good, but for Yarborough the CPR blitz was about establishing a culture. He wanted his employees to grow closer to each other. He hoped that the experience would change their perspective. And he got all those things and more.
“I think we became connected to the larger community. We service a global client base; we have no clients here in Texas. No clients here in Cleburne, certainly,” Yarborough said. “But it was a way for our guys to connect and see the world within the city we operate in. That’s very important. People were needing help, and by the same token, I think we helped ourselves. We transformed ourselves into better community partners.”
Boval has embraced the idea that life is about more than labor. Understanding and connecting with a community is essential for corporate success. Whether or not your client base lives within miles of your office, the people who surround you matter. People weren’t made to work within one bubble and play within another. Community is about belonging, and work without a sense of place and purpose is hollow.
“We come to work every day to make a living and to take home a paycheck, but really our life is created by what we give back,” Mitchell said. “In a short weekend, being able to significantly change somebody’s life and improve their living situation — improve the quality of life for themselves and their children — is wonderful.”