August 5, 2019 – Executive search firm Ventura Partners has recruited top executives for two portfolio companies owned by private equity firm Equity38. John Hutchison becomes president of TRX, a leader in functional training equipment, education and technology, and Clay Sanger steps into the chief executive officer role for Superfood Holdings, which is in the plant-based, clean food restaurant space. Bob Damon, a partner at Ventura, led both assignments.
Mr. Hutchison will oversee the development and execution of an aggressive global growth plan for TRX. In addition, he will have direct oversight of all revenue channels, marketing, product, training and education. He has deep experience developing global brands, including brand strategy and general management roles at Nike and the North Face, where he last ran the global Run & Train division. Mr. Hutchison started his career at General Electric followed by a consulting position at the Boston Consulting Group, where he specialized in consumer goods and retail.
“Bringing on talent like John in key leadership roles is a key tenant of our strategy in building TRX,” said Equity38 managing partner Brent Leffel. “John has a strong track record of success in blue chip organizations and his experience and thought leadership will be invaluable as TRX continues its strong growth trajectory in the health and fitness market.”
TRX co-chairman and founder Randy Hetrick said the company is thrilled to have Mr. Hutchison join its executive leadership team. “He has a proven track record within the industry, has demonstrated an ability to drive growth and profitability and comes with a deep knowledge on how to best implement innovative strategic marketing and consumer experiences that will greatly contribute to the success and growth of our business,” said Mr. Hetrick.
“TRX is the gold standard in the fitness industry, and we will leverage our leadership position to bring innovative products and services to gyms, trainers and consumers worldwide,” said Mr. Hutchison. “I am sincerely grateful and humbled by this chance to contribute to a global leader in the fitness industry.”
The appointment of Mr. Sanger, meanwhile, comes only three weeks after the initial announcement of the merger between Beaming Wellness and Project Juice, now operating under the umbrella of Superfood Holdings.
As CEO, Mr. Sanger will oversee the development and execution of a major retail expansion plan for the company. In addition, he will directly oversee all sales channels, finance, marketing and operations. Two new clean food kitchens are slated to open by the end of 2019 as the beginning stages of a strategic national growth plan.
“Bringing on talent like Clay in key leadership roles is an important tenet of our strategy in building the leading QSR concept in the organic, plant-based, clean food space,” said Mr. Leffel. “Clay brings a proven track record of success and his experience and thought leadership will be invaluable as Superfood Holdings grows its footprint in existing markets and expands to new markets.”
Mr. Sanger’s depth of experience, with over 30 years in restaurant operations, will also help to maximize operational efficiencies for the company. Mr. Sanger has held COO positions at Pieology and Jinya and has also previously held positions as vice president of operations at Panera, Paradise Bakery and Susie Cakes. He was a member of the leadership team that successfully completed a merger between Panera and Paradise Bakery and has deep experience with company owned stores and franchising in multiple markets.
“Hiring Clay as our CEO is an important strategic move that will support our growth goals,” said Devon Briger, chief financial officer for Superfood Holdings. “The opportunity in front of us is tremendous and tapping into Clay’s expertise, will allow us to fast-track our path to even greater success.”
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“Beaming and Project Juice are clear leaders when it comes to innovating within the plant-based, clean food space,” said Mr. Sanger. “The brands are truly better together and I’m excited to work with the team in building upon its commitment to innovation and quality as we navigate our future growth.”
Equity 38 is a boutique principal investment firm focused on lower middle market opportunities in the consumer-facing health/wellness, active lifestyle, and outdoor sector. The firm’s managing partners have complementary experience as principal investors, entrepreneurs, board members and C-level industry executives. The firm was founded in 2018 by Mr. Leffel and David Cox, with offices in Newport Beach, CA and Atlanta.
Ventura Partners, with particular depth in recruiting senior leadership talent for private equity-owned and owner / founder-run companies, and sports management concerns, specializes in recruiting CFOs for private equity-owned companies, C-level executives for consumer and retail companies, and directors of athletics, coaches and administrators in professional sports organizations, colleges and universities. The firm, which was founded in 2010 by Julie Ford, maintains offices in Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta.
With over 30 years of search experience, Mr. Damon has been a senior strategist recruiting for boards and C-suite executives on organization and talent management issues. Although he has recruited CEOs for well-known organizations like Oakley, Under Armour, Levi Strauss & Co., Burger King and the National Football League, he has spent the last 15 years focused on talent acquisition projects in small and mid-sized private equity-backed companies as well as in companies with existing strong founder-inspired cultures. He is a former top executive with Korn Ferry and Spencer Stuart, where he spent 25 years in C-level operating roles.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media