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Company News: New Hires, Merger

A merger brings leadership changes, while other companies announced new personnel who bring years of experience.

A merger brings new hires, while other companies announced new personnel who bring years of experience.

As of April 1, AstaReal Inc. and AstaReal Technologies Inc. merged into one singular entity, AstaReal Inc. Previously functioning as separate but related companies, AstaReal Inc. focused on sales and marketing, while AstaReal Technologies, established in 2014, concentrated on the U.S. cultivation and production of AstaReal® brand astaxanthin (Haematococcus pluvialis).

"AstaReal Inc. is now in its best position to continue scientific exploration and validation of AstaReal astaxanthin, and to ensure sustainable production meets future demand," commented Arun Nair, Ph.D., president of AstaReal.

In addition to the announcement of the merger between the two businesses, the newly streamlined astaxanthin producer announced two key appointments.

Nair has been named president of AstaReal Inc. He had previously served as president for AstaReal AB, Gustavsberg, Sweden. He will now lead both cultivation/production and sales and marketing efforts.

Nair has held executive positions at the Fuji group of industries for the past nine years, managing the group’s business in various positions. He obtained his doctoral degree in molecular biology from the University of Kagoshima, Japan. Nair has a wealth of experience in managing biotech startups and a total industry experience of more than 24 years. His focus is on functional molecules such as astaxanthin that help improve performance and health.

In addition, nutraceutical ingredient sales veteran Michelle Jenkins was named West Coast manager. Jenkins was most recently West Coast sales manager for Blanver, and prior, served as vice president of sales at B&D Ingredients, where she developed key nutraceutical accounts. At AstaReal Inc., her territories include the entire Pacific Coast, states west of the Rockies, parts of Texas, as well as key clientele interspersed throughout the region.

“Having an embedded presence on the West Coast is an enormous boost for our sales program and will contribute greatly toward AstaReal Inc.’s overall plan for strategic growth in this dynamic astaxanthin market," said Joe Kuncewitch, national sales manager.

Nellson Nutraceutical announced Jamie Better has been named the company’s chief executive officer. Better, who has been chairman of the board of directors since 2014, brings to Nellson an extensive track record of senior leadership experience across industries, and is an operating partner of Kohlberg & Co., Nellson’s majority shareholder. Better stated, “I look forward to leading Nellson through its continued evolution while supporting its customers through new product and market expansion efforts."

Better assumes the role from Scott Greenwood, Nellson’s current CEO, who will remain in an advisory capacity to the company. Under Greenwood’s leadership, Nellson completed two transformative acquisitions and achieved significant growth, positioning the company as one of North America’s leading third-party manufacturers and full-service providers of high-quality nutrition bars, nutritional powders and healthy snacks. “I am proud of the accomplishments we have achieved together at Nellson under Kohlberg’s ownership," Greenwood commented. “Jamie’s distinguished track record, together with his strong professional and personal values, make him an outstanding successor to lead Nellson into the future."

Seth H. Hollander, partner of Kohlberg, commented, “On behalf of the board of directors of Nellson, I wish to sincerely thank Scott for his distinguished service to the company. Scott was instrumental in building a foundation for sustained growth at Nellson." 

Nutrition 21 LLC announced Sara O’Brien has joined as general counsel of JDS Therapeutics and its wholly owned subsidiary Nutrition 21.

O’Brien joins Nutrition 21 after working in the intellectual property (IP) departments of Willkie Farr & Gallagher and Ropes & Gray, where she most recently specialized in patent litigation. Her private practice included extensive IP work in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors, as well as IP portfolio management. Her litigation experience encompasses a range of technologies, including biologics, pharmaceuticals, computer software and other technologies. Her practice also encompassed intellectual property-based commercial transaction work such as complex contracts, licensing and supply agreements and bankruptcies.

“Sara’s intellectual property experience and industry knowledge make her a prime addition to the Nutrition 21 team," said Michael Satow, CEO and president of Nutrition 21. “We view her role as a sign of our commitment and dedication to supplying our customers with patent-protected, clinically substantiated and innovative ingredients. We are confident that Sara will play a vital role in our business."

O’Brien received her law degree with honors from the University of Connecticut.

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