Jason Cohen, Founder/Co-CEO, co-founded Mamma Says, Inc. in 1999, a food manufacturing company that produced biscotti. He grew the business from concept to gaining distribution at retail giants such as Costco, BJ’s and Trader Joe’s. In a few years, the company was able to establish a national brand where sales volume doubled year-over-year. In 2005, the business was sold to NONNIS Inc., a portfolio brand of Windpoint Partners for 4x revenue.
In 2005, Jason co-founded World Gourmet Marketing, creating better-for-you snacks under the flagship brand Sensible Portions, which included all-natural, low-calorie snacks such as Veggie Straws, Pita Bites and Multi Grain Crisps. Again, his strategic plan was to sell into large format retailers such as Costco first. He then moved on to vendors such as BJ’s, Wal-Mart, Sam’s, ShopRite, Safeway, SuperValu, etc. Under his management, the company achieved double-digit growth and became one of the fastest rising snack food industry purveyors. The company went from $4MM in sales in 2005 to just under $100MM in 2009. In 2010, World Gourmet (and the Sensible Portions brand) sold for $110MM to The Hain Celestial Group, one of the leading providers of organic and natural foods. While at Hain Celestial, Jason served as President of Club and Snack Division, and was responsible for executing the sales strategy for brands such as Terra, Garden of Eatin’ and Sensible Portions.
In 2011, Jason founded Rickland Orchards, the first shelf stable Greek yogurt brand. In October 2013, after sales soared to $50 million in just 18 months, the company was sold for $57.5 million to B&G Foods, a public company. In 2013, Jason partnered with the founders of SkinnyPop. SkinnyPop successfully went public in 2015 for 1.4 billion in shareholder value.
In 2014, Jason received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Excellence in Emerging category in the New Jersey region.
In January 2015, Jason co-founded Halen Brands, Inc., which quickly funded Chef’s Cut Real Jerky in March 2015. Halen Brands then purchased Rex’s Outrageous Road Crew Crunch in September 2015 and most recently parterned with Core Hydration in June 2016.
Jason has also invested, raised capital, and previously or currently holds Board Member positions for various companies, mostly in the consumer products space including : Dippin’ Chips and Mrs. Thinster’s, Voli Vodka, Pearl Media, and two apparel companies - Trukfit and Asphalt Yacht Club.
Leigh Feuerstein, Co-CEO, began his career with KPMG where he audited financial statements for hedge funds and Fortune 500 companies. Shortly thereafter he founded and became a Managing Member of his own accounting firm known as Oracle Advisory Services, LLC. Leigh specialized in the Hedge Fund Industry and Private Equity and offered guidance on tax, accounting, systems, fund structuring, deal structuring, asset raising, reconciliation projects, and assisted them on legal matters.
Leigh's talents were recognized by one of his clients, Element Capital Management, LLC, and he decided to join Element as Partner for the Global Macro Hedge Fund. Under his 6 years as COO & CFO, net assets grew from $250MM to $4B+ and Leigh was in charge of all non-trading aspects of the business including accounting, operations, legal, compliance, and Investor relations. Leigh also invested, raised capital, and previously or currently holds Board Member positions for various companies, mostly in the consumer products space including : Sensible Portions Veggie Straws (Sold), Rickland Orchards Greek Yogurt Bars (Sold), Dippin’ Chips and Mrs. Thinsters Cookies (Sold and still an active Board Member), Voli Vodka, Pearl Media, Trukfit and Asphalt Yacht Club. Leigh also serves as a Board Member, Chair of the Audit Committee and alternate member of the Investment Committee of IMH Financial Corporation, a public company.
Leigh was an investor in SkinnyPop LLC, which sold in July 2014 for a strategic premium to TA Associates. In January 2015, Leigh co-founded Halen Brands, Inc., which quickly funded Chef’s Cut Real Jerky in March 2015. Halen Brands then purchased Rex’s Outrageous Road Crew Crunch in September 2015 and most recently parterned with Core Hydration in June 2016.
Leigh is a certified public accountant. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from SUNY-Buffalo.
Ben Thankachan, General Manager, is a pharmacist by profession who enjoyed a 17 year career with Walmart and Sam's Club prior to joining Halen Brands. Ben held various roles at Walmart Stores Inc, including Operations, Merchandising, Government Relations, Regulatory Compliance, Recruiting/HR, and Product Development.
Ben was the Sam’s Club Sr. Buyer over OTC/Vitamins/Minerals/Herbs/Supplements and Nutritional bars and proteins, and was the first national retail buyer to adopt Rickland Orchards Greek Yogurt Bars. After his merchant role, Ben was promoted to VP/DMM of Health and Wellness Operations, Merchandising and Compliance at Sam’s Club overseeing more than 6000 associates and a $3 billion P&L.
Upon departing Sam’s Club, all 3 businesses he oversaw (Pharmacy, Optical, and Hearing Aid Centers) were running double digit comps and leading the entire company in sales performance. Today, Ben is a proud member of Halen Brands – furthering his passion for giving people the best quality foods at a great value.
VP OF SALES
Brian Ponticello, VP of Sales, started working in Atkins nutritional customer service department in 2003, where he quickly grew to manage the supply/demand planning department for a $150MM business.
After turning down a Director of Operations role from an acquiring company, Brian pursued a sales opportunity with Glutino Food Group. At Glutino he was in charge of east coast grocery and natural before quickly moving into the national accounts manager role. The Glutino business exploded ($17MM to $60MM in sales) during his tenure.
After the sale of the business to Boulder Brands, Brian was hired as the East sales manager for Rickland Orchards and assisted in building the brands ACV in Grocery to 50+ within 15 months, securing distribution in all major east coast grocery and convenience chains.
Upon the sale of Rickland Orchards to B&G Foods in 2013, Brian continued to build the SkinnyPop business. Under the current team, SkinnyPop’s conventional business grew from $9.4MM over 52 weeks in January 2013 to $66MM trend in September of 2014. Brian enjoys the entrepreneurial spirit of Halen brands and prides himself on providing sales tactic and sell-in for all umbrella brands.
DIRECTOR OF SALES - CENTRAL
Tony Pines, Director of Sales – Central, is a 7-year U.S. Air Force Veteran with 19 years of CPG experience. Tony began his career as a Walmart Analyst in Bentonville, AR. He then went back to school in 2000 and achieved a 4-year B.S. Degree in two years, graduating in October, 2002.
Tony continued on to work under ACNielsen as a Client Support Specialist on-site with Dr. Pepper/7UP, where he integrated the use of Wal-Mart panel data to provide a single view of how the Walmart consumer influences category sales in all channels.
Tony was also part of the Rickland Orchards sales team for just over a year, helping grow the brand from paper concept to millions in record time. He spent the next year following the Rickland Orchards sale with SkinnyPop in sales.
Tony has also held consultant position for approximately 1 year, managing two corporate clients in a Sales Planning role. He brings a keen eye to data and analytics, as well as a strong selling voice to Halen Brands
DIRECTOR OF SALES
WEST & INTERNATIONAL
Mark Froke, Director of Sales – West & International, is an experienced CPG sales executive with over 13 years of successes ranging from large brands like Coca-Cola and Nestle to emerging brands like Rickland Orchards and SkinnyPop.
During his time at Atkins, he was also named Category Captain at marquee retailers such as Ralphs and Fred Meyer among other sales excellence awards. Customer relationships and knowledge include domestic national accounts like Safeway and Kroger as well as regional leaders such as Sprouts and Stater Bros. in addition to Canadian outlets such as Loblaws, Sobeys, Bulk Barn and Petro.
Mark brings deep rooted customer relationships to Halen Brands in various channels of trade including conventional, natural, convenience and alternative as well as discount.
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Pete DeLouise, Director of Operations, started the first 10 years of his career with Dr. Pepper Snapple Group where he was focused on Material Planning, Production Scheduling, and Capacity Modeling for brands like Snapple, Mystic, Clamato and Hawaiian Punch.
After DPSG, Pete began working on the brands Lesser Evil Snacks and barkTHINS. At barkTHINS Pete was the architect of a Supply Chain team that supported the explosive growth of a small startup to a national brand that was acquired by The Hershey Company in just 2.5 years.
Pete is valued for bringing 17 years of experience to Halen Brands in Supply Chain, Logistics, and Operations from both large brands as well as smaller startup brands.
VP OF CUSTOMER SERVICE/OPERATIONS
Elsie Amorim, VP of Customer Service/Operations, has over 12 years of experience acting as a liaison between Sales teams, Customers and Freight carriers both within the US and Internationally.
Customer Service is an integral part of Halen Brands customer value proposition. From experience with brands such as Sensible Portions, Rickland Orchards, B&G Foods and now Road Crew Crunch, Elsie strives to build trust and strong long term relationships with Halen’s customer base to exceed expectations.
DIRECTOR OF SALES - EAST
George Borsch, Director of Sales – East, began his career at Sam's Club from 1994 to 2000 and worked his way up to Grocery manager. From there, George moved on to the manufacturer's side at Arizona Ice Tea for three years in sales as district sales manager.
Next was Kellogg’s Snacks Inc, where George also spent 6 years on the selling side. During his time with Kellogg’s Snacks, he received the following recognition – Walmart Territory Manager of the Year 2006 and Publix Territory manager of the year 2004.
In 2009, he began working for Claridge Natural Food Group as a sales manager in the east for the Glutino and Ian’s brands. During his tenure, George was responsible for all southern conventional corporate accounts (i.e. Publix, Harris Teeter, HEB, Ingles, Food City, Lowes Foods, BILO Holdings, etc.). He drove sales +73% YOY in 2013 prior to departing for SkinnyPop.
George is diverse in managing many parts of the business such as, brokers, distributors, natural, and conventional retailers and brings that and more to the Halen Brands team.
COSTCO SALES EXECUTIVE
Heather Kent, Costco Sales Executive residing in Denver, CO. Heather has club level experience ranging from an Assistant Buyer at Costco to a manufacturer’s representative. She has worked with large manufacturers such as BelGioioso, Wholly Guacamole and Sabra Dipping Company and emerging brands such as Chef’s Cut Real Jerky and Boulder Organic.
Having a passion for health and fitness, Heather found Halen Brands to be a perfect fit for her professionally. Her experience as an Assistant Buyer in the NE Region of Costco has allowed her to provide valuable insight into what the Buyers are looking for today.
STRATEGIC ACCOUNTS MANAGER
Chantel Hahn, Strategic Accounts Manager began her career with Walmart Stores Inc. Working from Walmart’s corporate offices for 12 years, Chantel brings a wealth of experience and internal knowledge to our team of experts.
Chantel’s Walmart journey began in Merchandising where she acquired foundational systems knowledge and process experience. Most recently she held the roles of Product Development Specialist then Global Sourcing Manager. She was a successful part of growing the key categories of both the home and outdoor areas within Walmart.
Chantel’s attention to detail, process management skills, and operational expertise made her valuable to her internal team and her external supplier partners. She is the perfect addition to our team; rounding out our capabilities and provides “on the ground” insights into multiple areas of Walmart and Sam’s Club such as Operations, Merchandising, Product Development, Marketing and Front End strategies.
Chantel graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Human Environmental Sciences and a Minor in Marketing. Chantel is considered an expert in Retail Link, Factory Audits, Product Development and Walmart Inc.’s internal guidelines and expectations.
Anisya Staroselsky, Operations Manager, began her career with Oracle Advisory Services LLC where she maintained the monthly books and records for over 15 small to medium size financial companies. Anisya was also in charge of all HR Accounting and maintaining the books for the firm.
In 2008, Anisya joined Element Capital Management LLC, working directly under the COO/CFO, and assisting in the management company accounting, tax preparation, HR, compliance and investor relations. Anisya also handled all personal and financial matters for the CIO and COO/CFO.
Anisya’s continued responsibility for the implementation, management and execution of a robust infrastructure is at the core of Halen Brands today.
Stephanie Latorre, VP Marketing, began her career with Sensible Portions as a Marketing Assistant.
Over the last 8 years, she has worked in both fast-paced, high-growth company environments, like Sensible Portions and Rickland Orchards; as well as with CPG companies like Hain Celestial and B&G Foods.
Stephanie focuses on growing brand recognition through creative, social, and digital communication that impacts target audiences in a meaningful and credible way.
Today she acts as VP of Marketing for Halen Brands, overseeing all facets of marketing and working closely with sales to provide sell-in tactic and in-store support strategy.
Scott Foster, Creative Director - An award winning, self-motivated team leader, with a 30-year record of success in management, creative direction, marketing, and team building. A Creative Director with primary leadership of creative strategy, vision and execution across multiple platforms using innovative and fresh thinking.
Scott started his career in the pharmaceutical agency and Biotech areas but moved to CPG a few years after that. Scott worked at Kraft Foods for 12 years designing many of the packages you see on the store shelves today.
Scott also owned his own creative agency before becoming part of the Halen Brands team. Scott has designed packaging and websites for almost every kind of product on the market.
A strong conceptual thinker and creative problem solver with expertise in various design programs in both Mac and PC. Scott boasts both quick and quality package design output and more for Halen Brands.
Nevila Kondili, Controller, began her career at DoubleClick in their corporate accounting department, after graduating from Boston University with a degree in finance and accounting.
A year later, shortly after DoubleClick was acquired by Google, Nevila went on to work at Oracle Advisory LLC, a highly skilled accounting firm focusing on financial and tax planning. During her 10+ years there, Nevila became a junior partner and worked closely with top hedge funds, private equity funds and high net worth individuals supporting them in various tax and accounting matters.
She left Oracle in January 2016 and brought her vast accounting experience to Halen Brands.
VICE PRESIDENT OWYN - DSD
Jeff Miller, OWYN Vice President has over 19 years of Food and Beverage experience starting as a Sales Rep with the Pillsbury Company in 1998.
Jeff went to Pepsi in 2000 and in 10 years held four positions. Foodservice Rep, Territory Sales Manager, Regional Sales Manager of Columbia, MO. and lastly Regional Sales Manager of Pompano Beach, FL where he successfully grew his NOPBT by $3MM in 36 months.
In 2011 Jeff was hired by Muscle Milk to increase volume and distribution across the Southeast Region. Jeff grew his respective business +38% in two years.
In 2013 Jeff became National Project Manager to combat Monster’s Protein entrant. His leadership in targeted markets led to a 64% Volume increase and five points of share growth for Muscle Milk.
In 2014 Jeff was promoted to Dir of Foodservice where his quick success gained him a promotion in 2015 as Sr. Dir/Vice President, DSD. Jeff Managed four PBC Regions and 25 independent distributors. Jeff had 10 direct reports and over a two-year span grew his teams Gross Sales by over $10MM
Jeff’s business acumen of the DSD system and protein category along with his clear desire for success will be a tremendous asset for OWYN as well as the entire Halen Brands family of products.
PRESIDENT & COO of REX'S OUTRAGEOUS, LLC.
Vincent P. James is a skilled leader and entrepreneur with a proven record of successfully launching new food products by building teams that think outside the box. This multilingual executive has used innovative marketing and business development tactics, along with persuasive management style, to guide companies across three continents to profitability.
In 2005, he struck out on his own to found the Mediterranean Snack Food Company ®. He focused on sourcing the best natural ingredients to create the first line of plant based protein snack foods. After developing and testing numerous recipes over a two-year period, Mediterranean Snacks ® introduced the first-ever Baked Lentil Chips ® in late 2009. 2011 saw the introduction of Lentil Crackers and a garbanzo-based Hummuz crispz ™ and in 2013 the brand launched tapaz2go ™, an innovative mini meal packaging Lentil Crackers with shelf stable hummus for a convenient on-the-go snack that is gluten-free and protein-rich.
In August, 2015, Vincent successfully sold his company to American Halal Company, Inc. dba Saffron Road Foods. This acquisition leverages the Mediterranean Snacks brand to the next level in plant-based protein snack foods.
As President and COO of Rex’s Outrageous, he is now ready to tackle the new challenges and projects within the Halen Brands portfolio.
Mark previously held the position of Director of Marketing for the Sports Nutrition business at The Nature’s Bounty Co.. Prior to joining The Nature’s Bounty Co., Mark held numerous senior marketing roles at PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay Snacks division including leading the white space innovation strategy for millennials, global repositioning of Baked! to Oven Baked!, and launching a new business initiative in the cookie/cracker aisle. Mark also worked at Hain-Celestial, where he was a brand manager on the natural snacks business. A graduate of Vanderbilt Business School, Mark resides in New Jersey with his wife, Amanda, and two-year old son.
Mark is a modern brand leader that has a passion for emerging technologies that expand consumer experiences with brands.
SVP Sales for the Natural Channel
Sidney has over 35 years of Food and Beverage sales experience starting his career with the Coca-Cola Company of Los Angeles in 1982 as a Chain Store Sales Representative.
After 5+ years at Coke LA Sidney joined his family Brokerage business in Los Angeles, Billings Horn, as Vice President Grocery Sales. They represented top clients like OceanSpray, Treetop, Maruchan, Chef America, Heinz, and others. Built sales to over 300 million over his 10 year stay at Billings-Horn, making Billings-Horn one of the top Regional food brokers in Southern California.
After the sale of Billings-Horn in 1998 to Advantage Sales and Marketing, Sidney joined the Hain-Celestial Team as Vice President of Sales West. During his 18 years at Hain, Sidney was instrumental in building US Sales from 200 million in 1999 to over 1.4 billion in 2017, integrating over 34 acquisitions. Sidney was promoted to Vice President of the Natural Channel in 2004 responsible for 15 Regional Managers and 60 direct sales reps with a portfolio of over 30 brands. In 2014, Sidney was promoted to Senior Vice President of Natural Sales for Hain Celestial US.
Sidney left Hain in 2017 to join the Halen Brands Team to capture the entrepreneurial spirit and help them drive distribution and sales in this channel. Sidney brings Halen a wealth of experience in the Natural Channel, and has a diverse background in sales management, and brand building tactics to help drive sales and profits for Halen in this strategic channel.