The management team at Botanic Innovations is comprised of seasoned business professionals, aided by a group of specialist advisors.
Mark J. Mueller
Founder, Chief Technology Officer & Board Member
Mark Mueller, a life-long student of botany, is the founder of the Company and serves in his current capacity as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Board Member.
With a Master’s of Science Degree in Water Resource Management from the University of Wisconsin, Mark gained extensive experience in rural business innovation and technology programs, working for the University of Minnesota-Duluth Center for Economic Development, the Northwest Regional Planning Commission (NWRPC) and the Wisconsin Business Innovation Corporation (WBIC). As executive director of NWRPC and most recently as a consultant to that organization, he has been involved in strategic direction, development of a regional network of business enterprise centers and the formulation of equity financing fund.
Mueller used his entrepreneurial spirit to found Botanic Innovations, LLC. He transitioned the company to developing plant-oils and nutri-powders with a focus on nutritional, personal care, and specialty markets.
Today, its bulk ingredient products are made with the firm’s proprietary NatureFRESH Cold Press technology and protected by three approved patents – where Mueller is a co-author – for claims on use of cold pressed botanical seed oils.
CEO Emeritus & Board Member
Dick Blackader joined the Botanic Innovations team as Chief Operating Officer in October, 2010 and he has transitioned his role to CEO in Spring 2016. Dick’s long and successful track record in operations management includes roles with 3M, Imation and Accenture. He has extensive operational experience in field service, resource cost management, logistics, operations management and sales support. Dick has proven abilities and extensive experience in management of P&L’s, change management, CRM, and business development. He is a graduate of the University of Redlands where he earned a BS in Business Administration and Management.
President and COO
Al joined the Botanic Innovations LLC team as Chief Operating Officer in 2016. In his role he is responsible for the dietary supplement and ingredient business. Al is a seasoned professional with broad operations experience. His thirty plus years in operations included leading large operations in Wisconsin and Iowa for Polaris as Director of Operations. Al currently serves as the Chairperson of a rural healthcare organization and is a graduate of Lakeland College where he earned a BA in Business Administration.
Chief Financial Officer
Steve has more than 20 years of progressive successful financial leadership experience. He’s a resourceful executive with a track record of building, leading, and advising private and public companies to achieve business objectives, generate growth, and realize cost savings. He is adept at designing and implementing business performance metrics, strategic plans, and multimillion-dollar budgets. Steve assists the Company with accounting, finance and general business operations.
Gregory R. (Greg) Palen
Greg Palen has enjoyed a long and successful career as executive, entrepreneur and investor in companies spanning several industries. Botanic Innovations and the Immuno-Viva line of products hold special importance to Greg. Having lost his mother to cancer, he is acutely concerned about advances in cancer research. Currently Greg is the chairman/CEO of Spectro Alloys Corporation and a managing partner of Palen Property Management. He serves as chairman of the Board for Polaris Industries, Inc. He also serves on the board of directors of a number of other corporations including Valspar Corporation and Fabcon, Inc. He holds a B.A. from St. John’s University and a M.B.A. from the University of Minnesota.
Charles Muscoplat, PhD.
Dr. Muscoplat is currently a Professor of Food Science and Nutrition and an adjunct professor of Medicine and Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Minnesota. He is currently Chair of Committee for Pharmaceutical Development (CPD); a newly formed University pilot project to assist faculty wishing to commercialize pharmaceutical inventions. He was Vice President of Agricultural Policy and Dean Emeritus, College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Minnesota. Dr. Muscoplat has more than nineteen years in the pharmaceutical industry with MGI Pharma, Inc. and has successfully developed new drugs in oncology and rheumatology from preclinical to Phase III trials and FDA approval. Dr. Muscoplat consults in the pharmaceutical industry.
John S. McKeon
Jack McKeon retired in 2005 from ConAgra Foods where he served as president of the Venture Development Group. In that position, he was responsible for identifying emerging food and food-related investment opportunities for ConAgra and managing the company’s interests in those enterprises. One of the opportunities that caught his eye was Botanic Innovations, and the idea of bringing healthier, science based ingredients into the snack food business. Prior to joining ConAgra, Jack was a principal for seventeen years in an investment banking business that specialized in mergers and acquisitions in the food industry. He was also a founding partner of The Food Fund, a venture capital company. An alumni of the University of Minnesota and General Mills, Jack also serves on a number of boards including that of Hawkins, Inc., a publicly-owned distributor of food ingredients and pharmaceuticals in Minneapolis, where he is chairman.
John R. MacDonald, Ph.D., DABT
Dr. MacDonald has over 25 years of experience in all aspects of pharmaceutical drug development and licensing. He led the preclinical and clinical R&D efforts at MGI Pharma, a Twin Cities based oncology-focused company, from 1996 until retiring as Senior VP R&D at the end of 2005. At MGI Dr. MacDonald oversaw the FDA approval of several new drug candidates for the treatment of cancer, supportive care of cancer patients and patients with autoimmune disease. Dr. MacDonald served as a member of the MGI corporate management team that built the company through product and company acquisitions that culminated in the acquisition of MGI by Eisai, Inc. Dr. MacDonald is a board certified toxicologist and prior to joining MGI worked in pathology and experimental toxicology in the Parke-Davis Research Division of Warner-Lambert participating in the early development of numerous well known therapeutics. He is currently active in drug development as the CEO of PepTx, Inc., a startup company founded on novel antiangiogenic drug candidates discovered at the University of Minnesota and as a consultant to pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions as the founder of Ridge Road Consulting. Dr. MacDonald earned a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Arizona, a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Michigan, and held postdoc and research faculty positions in the Department of Pathology, University of California San Francisco, School of Medicine.
Todd Mirzai, MD
Todd Mirzai, MD is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon licensed in Hawaii and California. He is a partner at Strathspey Crown Holdings where he focuses on concierge wellness and innovative mobile health technologies positioned to optimize human health and performance. Dr. Mirzai is on the Board of Directors of Aviana Molecular Technologies, an early stage mobile diagnostics company. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Botanic Innovations, a specialized ingredients company focused on nutrient dense, cold pressed seed oils and flours utilized across a variety of markets including functional foods and cosmetics. Dr. Mirzai also serves as an advisor for several companies in the health and well-being space including JIYO a global wellness platform being developed in conjunction with Deepak Chopra, MD and Healthiest, an online evidence based, consortium identifying the most impactful nutritional products for consumers.
Vice President of Operations
Jeff joined the Botanic Innovations team in August 2010 as Quality Technician. He was promoted to Quality Manager in 2012. This this role, he provided managerial and technical leadership in the areas internal plant operations auditing, ingredient and packaging material quality, document control, hold/trace/recall systems, sanitation and regulatory compliance. Effective September 2014, Jeff was promoted to Plant Operations Director and is responsible for all plant operations. In this position, Jeff is responsible for the overall Operations of the Plant including the management of a staff of comprised of Safety and Quality, Production, Maintenance, Supply Chain and Procurement, and Administration.