Written by Dan Daniels
26 Mar 2023

In Memory & Admiration of Christian Kath

Our Friend, Our Colleague, A Great Leader of Leaders 

4th May 1980 - 3rd December 2022 



On December 3rd, 2022 – a date traditionally associated with celebration as it commemorates the birthday of my son, my wife and three dear friends and colleagues, our world was struck with an immeasurable tragedy. On this day, our Chief Operating Officer – Christian Kath, his wife Misty, and his beautiful daughter Lily were all killed in a light plane crash off the west coast of Florida, leaving behind their youngest daughter – Harper. 

Personally. Collectively. As a senior leadership team. As colleagues and friends. As a business. Our hearts broke. 


In my 37 years of business, since founding a fledgling company at the age of 21, I have endured many moments of personal trepidation. Defining moments that threatened my ability to pay the bills, legal battles that confronted the tenacity of my vision and the depth of passion and courage towards what I felt called to do, competitive battles that confronted me year after year with the question “is this worth it?”, and the great responsibility that comes with carrying the livelihood of your staff and their families in the governance of your leadership. Three decades, despite all the learnings and challenges encumbered, fell immeasurably short in preparing me for the sudden loss of Christian and his family. 


In the last few months I, and those who have mourned with me, have been deeply fortified by the depth of friendship, comradery and appreciation that has arisen from our organization and out of those who have been touched by Chris’ life. It is to these people and to the memory of Chris and everything he meant to me that I write this tribute to his life, to his legacy and to everything we as individuals and as a business will collectively strive to uphold and model in his memory.  


Chris applied for a role with us back in 2009  and joined me shorty after moving his family to Brisbane as plant manager at our smallest and most challenging plants (aka ‘the chicken shed’) in Queensland Australia – a role which he saw at the time as a fill-in job for a short transitional season in his life, and for us a strong candidate with a hands-on problem-solving ability and deeply-seeded work ethic who would fill a much needed role in our operational process. I always joked with Chris that he somewhat bumbled along for the first few years of his career with us – he relied on known formulas and process ideologies rather than instinct, and while he was a prolific reader with impressive academic intellect - knowing something is different from translating it to the right outcome. Yet unlike many people I have met that have relied on their book-smarts to drive their career – Chris was different.

Over the years he challenged every idea and process, he did the job of every person to understand the nuances, challenges and inefficiencies of each physical process and procedure, he opened his mind to the challenges that the wider business was trying to solve, and he quickly learned to relinquish the idea that his truth was immovable. But more than all of this, he was one of the few people I have ever met that was prepared to work an apprenticeship and put in the 10,000 hours required to truly master his craft.    


One of the beautiful themes that was captured in the tributes that flowed in from across our business after his death, was Chris refusal to ask anyone to do something that he would not do. “In the trenches with me” was a battle cry that characterized the many memories our staff had with Chris’ dedication to tough physical work, long hours and “over and above” perseverance when challenges or need arose. This dedication was the cornerstone to his incredible personal, career and leadership growth and to the loyalty he commanded from those who worked with him.  

To this day, Chris remains the only person in my business life that has ever turned down a promotion…. In actual fact, 3 promotions over 5 years. On three separate occasions I felt Chris was ready for a bigger role, yet it was not out of a lack of confidence or belief that Chris turned down my offer…  On his terms, he wanted to master his apprenticeship in order to be fully equipped for his next role. Casting ego and self promotion aside, Chris was willing to defer his career progression for the sake of a more impactful longer-term outcome. He bet on himself… and it paid off. 


Thirteen years since Chris walked into our lives, he went from managing one of our most challenging plants in the world in Yatala Australia with 16 employees, to assuming the role of Chief Operations Officer across a 1200+ strong global workforce. However, as many would come to say as they reflected on Chris’ life, his impact was felt far deeper and his influence far wider than the carriage of our operational vision. One of our team put it more eloquently than I could “He blurred the line between professional and personal in the best kind of way”; he listened deeply, he saw people beyond a surface level interaction, he recognized sacrifice not only of those in our employment but of the families and loved ones that supported them, he believed courageously in the potential of others and helped to ignite in them that same courage and belief. Chris was demanding; he expected a lot from people and did not tolerate fools but in equal breath he never shied away from investing in others’ growth with deep intentionality and, when warranted, being the bearer of hard truths knowing that “prickly conversations” were always the essential catalyst for true growth and self-realization.

Chris’ reconciliation with the uncomfortable bred team loyalty and cultivated a deep desire to “be better” – I could not articulate this in a more poetic way than recounting the words of one of our senior operations leaders “I would run through a wall for that guy”.


Chris carried the vision for organizational ownership, often reciting the phrase “if you’re not directly serving the customer, you are serving someone who is;” therein dismissing the idea of hierarchical importance and focusing / unifying our collective vision around delivering excellence and safety in healthcare.

Across every command of his leadership, Chris had a way of humanizing people towards “keeping the main goal, the main goal” and not getting caught up in the petty differences of title, responsibility, or delegated authority; he empowered people to own and drive change, to ideate and experiment, to solve problems at the discretion of self, unrestrained by rigid process allegiance; but most importantly he inspired people to believe in themselves. 


Six weeks before his passing, my daughter Bek was interviewing Chris on a speakers panel seeking to extract leadership wisdom for some of our emerging leaders. One of the questions she asked Chris was “what do you want your legacy to be”. Chris paused a moment, and then with a slightly dismissive smile proceeded instead to speak to the vision that unifies us; the defining hallmarks of personal excellence and the deep importance of the people that make the journey fun and personally satisfying. 

Chris’ articulation of our collective purpose inspired the room, but his response bypassed the original question with clear intentionality. What we did not know then was that this question would never again be asked of Chris, but it would be asked of the people whose lives were impacted by him. Here, in solidarity with those who loved him, I offer the hallmarks of Chris’ legacy articulated by fellow leaders and colleagues who in their grief, reflected on the characteristics of his life that will forever live on through them. 


“He was a straight-shooter and confronted issues front-on, but his motive was clear – “I want to help you be the best version of yourself that you can be”” 

“He was more interested in me, than the job I did or the position I held. This is something I will continually strive to emulate in my life and in the teams I lead” 

“He made me feel like I could conquer anything. He helped me understand the personal value of hard work. He helped me to build integrity and ownership. He renewed my motivation, and encouraged me to reach for the stars”


“He broadened my perspective of ownership beyond what was directly within my role or department; empowering me with unlimited authority to drive company vision and people results” 


“Chris went out of his way to recognize and appreciate the sacrifices made by my wife and children in the pursuit of my work. He was kind, compassionate, inspiring and a proper family man. He taught me to appreciate people not just for face value – but recognizing the sacrifices behind the scenes.”  


"You may not remember what people say but you remember how they make you feel" and if I make even half of an impact on people the way Chris did, I'd be pretty stoked.”


“Chris championed me to take on a new role that I honestly wasn’t sure I had it in me. Chris believed in me, supported me and gave me the confidence to take on the biggest professional challenge of my life so far. it is this belief in others’ potential that I will always strive to emulate.”


“He made me want to be better” 


“No matter what was going on in his unbelievably busy world, he always made time for people.”


“Borrowing a quote from one of Chris' favorite books, Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig “To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here’s where things grow.” Chris’ life was lived out loud for others, one of many qualities of his leadership that I will carry with me”.   


He was a person that people aspire to be. He was a light and a guiding force. A true leader with a deeply caring soul that touched and inspired so many people. He is a fixture that we will never forget. 


“He was a true leader with great passion. A passion that will live on amongst all that he has connected with.” 





In the years of his tenure with Daniels, Chris redefined the hallmarks of a customer centric organization, he raised leaders and teams, he drove strong and long-lasting commercial outcomes, he reframed quality and process to drive superior levels of excellence, he drove purposeful collaboration across the business, he inspired big-picture thinking – all of this will live on and be foundational for continued growth, but it is the person of Chris that has deeply, profoundly and irrevocably impacted and changed our lives for the better. Christian Kath - the passionate bee and honey cultivation expert, master of perfectly appointed awkward pauses, borderline-acceptable Aussie slang and precision-timed dad jokes, purveyor of big bear hugs, Australia's greatest meat pie advocate, devout disciple of philosophical thought, loving father, beloved son and brother, inspiring leader, unforgettable friend.  


In memory of Chris, Misty, and Lily Kath. 

You will remain forever in our hearts.



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Dan Daniels

Dan Daniels

Chief Executive Officer

CEO of Daniels Health USA and founder of Daniels Health worldwide, Dan is a tireless advocate for safer healthcare waste practices and inventing sustainable technologies and methodologies that reduce environmental impact