Kincannon & Reed Assists National Biodiesel Board in CEO Search

November 1, 2016 – Executive search firm Kincannon & Reed has recruited Donnell Rehagen as chief executive officer of National Biodiesel Board (NBB). Jon Leafstedt and Gary Weihs, managing partners with Kincannon & Reed, a leading executive search firm focused on the food, agribusiness, and renewables sectors, conducted a rigorous national search and assisted in evaluating a strong slate of well-qualified CEO candidates, according to NBB.

Turning to an Insider

Mr. Rehagen was named interim CEO in June after serving 12 years as NBB’s chief operating officer. As COO, he managed the implementation and execution of NBB’s budget and the day-to-day responsibility of managing the organization’s program managers, staff and contractors. Additionally, he has led the annual National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, NBB’s signature event that attracts thousands of enthusiasts to learn more about biodiesel and for industry professionals to network with their peers.

Prior to joining NBB in 2004, Mr. Rehagen was the fleet administrator for the Missouri Department of Transportation where he was responsible for all aspects of the department’s $400 million fleet including implementation of their biodiesel (B20) use program.

“We had no shortage of qualified candidates,” said Ron Marr, NBB chairman. “This was no easy task. But when our decision was made, it was exciting to look around the room and have everyone agree that we could not have found a more outstanding leader for our organization. His detailed knowledge of our organization and deep understanding of our industry certainly leads to a smooth transition. But the main reason we have asked him to take on this position is his proven ability to think strategically about our issues and apply creative solutions that lead to success.”

The National Biodiesel Board is unique in both its diversity and effectiveness, said Jennifer Case, CEO of New Leaf Biofuel, a member of the National Biodiesel Board. “Donnell has the skills that will be instrumental to maintain the continued success of this growing industry while effectively meeting our diverse members’ needs. Our extensive nationwide search revealed we have the best talent and expertise right inside NBB. I am all the more impressed with our team and look forward to seeing where Donnell will take this talented group and what’s ahead for America’s advanced biofuel and our trade association.”

Reliable Bench Strength Found Close at Home

According to recruiters, at least half of all job openings are filled by internal candidates suggesting, perhaps, that companies have relatively reliable bench strength even though leadership development is seen as stagnating at many companies. The main reason given: companies prefer to promote from within.

And for those searches that go to recruiters to manage, with a clear mandate to look wide and deep both inside and outside a client organization, internal candidates surface more often than you think, and get the job about 20 percent of the time.

Why is this? Internal candidates know the business model and organization goals, say recruiters, and oftentimes they have the requisite skills required. They know the customers, clients, and fellow co-workers. They also have established relationships with colleagues and their organization’s leaders — but, more importantly, they have already demonstrated their potential. They can, therefore, assimilate faster and will be likely more satisfied in their new roles than outside hires. In this particular case, knowledge of the organization’s culture seemed to suggest that the best candidate would surface from within. 

“As past governing board chairman and chair of the finance and marketing committees, over the past decade I have had the opportunity to work closely with Donnell in almost every aspect of the NBB organization,” said Steven J. Levy, managing director of Sprague Operating Resources LLC. “Donnell is passionate about biodiesel, committed to NBB (including its dedicated staff and members), and has a clear vision for the industry. He is professional, a coalition builder and focused on the growth of the biodiesel industry while being pragmatic on good business practices. We are all anxiously looking forward to working with Donnell to continue the unique growth and acceptance of biodiesel in the future.” 

The National Biodiesel Board is the national trade association representing America’s first advanced biofuel. It works to create sustainable biodiesel industry growth through education, communication, governmental affairs, technical and quality assurance programs. Serving as the coordinating body for research and development in the U.S., the National Biodiesel Board is comprised of state, national, and international feedstock and feedstock processor organizations, biodiesel suppliers, fuel marketers and distributors, and technology providers.

Founded in 1981, Kincannon & Reed focuses exclusively on the food, agribusiness, and life sciences sectors and serves clients from its offices in the Americas, Europe, and Asia/ Pacific. The firm recently placed Federico A. Tripodi as CEO of Calyxt, Inc., a Minnesota-based company developing healthier food products to benefit both consumers and growers.

Earlier this year, Kincannon & Reed named Alan Temple as a managing director serving clients in the produce and food sectors. His background includes a two decade long career with B&W Quality Growers, Inc., a producer and distributor of branded and wholesale leafy greens with international distribution. The firm also named Phillip Osborne as a managing director in Australia / New Zealand. His background includes CEO and CFO positions in the FMCG, beverage, food and food ingredients, and agribusiness sectors.

Just recently, Kincannon & Reed also added Juan Pablo Buc Calderon as a managing director covering Chile and Peru. Within the region, he serves the firm’s agribusiness and food clients throughout Latin America. Mr. Buc Calderon previously worked extensively in Chilean agriculture, occupying key executive positions in recognized companies in the fruit export sector and agribusiness.

Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media

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