Food Service & Agriculture, Human Resources, and Technology

Bio-pesticide company names CEO

January 23, 2014
| By Pat Evans |
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Bio-pesticide company names CEO
John Sorenson. Courtesy Vestaron

A venture-backed agricultural company has named its new CEO.

Kalamazoo-based Vestaron Corp. said this month that Dr. John Sorenson would make the step up from interim CEO to full-time CEO. He had served in the interim role since September, as well as chairman of the board since 2011.

Sorenson joined the Vestaron board in 2008.


Vestaron is using a pepetide found in spiders to commercialize a new generation of bio-pesticides.

The company said the pesticides are effective against crop-damaging pests but have proven harmless to humans and other non-target animals.

Its investors include Southwest Michigan First and Grand Rapids-based Michigan Accelerator Fund 1.

"I'm very pleased to move from interim to permanent CEO at a very exciting time in our company's history,” Sorenson said. “Field trials of our bio-pesticide have shown very good efficacy, and the development of GMO and synthetic versions of it are progressing exceptionally well.

“2014 will see us move from an R&D company to a commercial product company. I couldn't be prouder of the progress the team has made as we move toward commercialization of our first product.”

Sorenson background

The new CEO started his career as a professor of genetics at North Carolina State University, before moving to Asgrow Seed Company, where he eventually became head of global vegetable seeds.

Sorenson moved on to Sandoz — or Syngenta — and held a variety of titles there, including president of Rogers Seed Company, president of Syngenta Seeds and president of biotechnology for Syngenta.

He also has served on various boards in the agriculture industry: the American Seed Trade Association, United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, National Council of Commercial Plant Breeders and the American Seed Research Foundation.

New chairman

Vestaron also said Pangaea Ventures General Partner Keith Gillard will take over as chairman of the board. He has served on the board since 2012.

The entrepreneur started several companies before helping Mitsubishi Corp. manage its Canadian venture activities.

Gillard eventually joined BASF Venture Capital America, where he oversaw the chemical and agricultural firm’s North American ventures.

He joined Pangaea in 2010.

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