Kaitlyn Rule ’19  |   Published December 10, 2015

Tasting success

Classmates Jackson, Lyon thriving at Bell Flavors and Fragrances
  • Alumni Rex Jackson, left, and Blake Lyon, right, stand near a display case that holds a century of history from their employer, Bell Flavors and Fragrances.
Monmouth College chemistry majors Rex Jackson and Blake Lyon have found interesting careers at the Northbrook, Ill., company Bell Flavors and Fragrances, Inc., a century-old company that “creates and delivers flavors, fragrances, botanical extracts and specialty ingredients that captivate the world’s taste buds and stimulate the senses.”
  A 2011 graduate who also majored in biochemistry, Jackson is a junior flavorist at Bell. He works with customers to develop and engineer flavors that suit their needs.   “There are other times when I’m able to create flavors of my choice that would fit a product,” he said. “This would be like developing a peach flavor for licorice, a raspberry flavor for chocolate, or even a cinnamon flavor for a drink. I also travel to stay educated in my field, and on occasions present what our company is capable of providing.”   Two years after joining the company, Jackson helped his Monmouth classmate, Lyon, obtain his job at Bell, where he serves as beverage applications technologist.   “My responsibilities are to take on projects and use our flavors to create beverages for the market,” said Lyon. “These may include original products or matching products already on the market.”   Lyon is also responsible for communicating with customers and suppliers to figure out the best way to make projects work.   “Sometimes I have to compound flavors or even alter them to create new flavors for the projects I am working on,” he said. “On occasion, I travel to oversee productions for the beverages I helped create.”   Reflecting on his young career, Lyon noted, “Your first big success is always exciting – seeing it on the shelf and knowing you helped or created that product. As I have settled in with my company, I have been working more closely with some of our top customers, which I am proud of because it shows my growth and skill at my job.”   “A proud moment for me has been creating my own line of flavors,” said Jackson. “The line consisted of seven different craft beer flavors, which include a stout and an IPA, and they are available as both liquid and dry flavor. They were so well received that they have been featured in the company’s marketing newsletter, there is a Bell marketing postcard that is dedicated to the line, and they are in constant demand by our customers. It gives you a great sense of accomplishment to know that people are enjoying a flavor that you worked so hard to develop.”   Jackson and Lyon were involved students during their time on campus. Both were members of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, with Jackson serving as the philanthropy chair and a member of the Interfraternity Council. Lyon was involved with the Fighting Scots Marching Band, The Scotsmen and the American Chemical Society.   “My liberal arts education made it easy for me to work with people from a variety of different backgrounds and helped me move up in my career,” said Jackson. “The dedication of Monmouth’s science professors to delivering a valuable education and paying attention to their students is what helped me achieve the career I have today.”   “The chemistry professors definitely helped mold me into the person I am today,” agreed Lyon, who said he not only works with a variety of different people, but also with different cultures. “I don’t just do projects for companies inside the U.S., but some companies around the world, which is neat because I get to study and play around with different tastes and different cultures, all from my lab in Illinois.”   Now that they are enjoying professional success, the classmates offered some advice for current students.   “You don’t have to know what jobs are actually out there right away,” said Lyon. “Going to talks and events can give you a better understanding of life after college.”   Jackson added, “The best advice I can give is to never get discouraged on the road to your career, and to be happy with your career choice.”
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