As the founder of World Centric, a producer of compostable food service and tableware products, Aseem Das has the future in mind, just as he did when working on artificial intelligence for NASA before founding his Petaluma-based company.
Sue Conley and Peg Smith didn’t always live in the Bay Area—they had to migrate west, like true cowgirls. The co-founders of Cowgirl Creamery and Tomales Bay Foods met at the University of Tennessee after Conley’s upbringing in Washington D.C. and Smith’s formative years in the southern U.S. Before becoming artisan cheese pioneers, Peg spent 17 years at Berkeley’s visionary restaurant, Chez Panisse, and Sue co-owned Bette’s Oceanview Diner, also in Berkeley.
Blair Kellison entered the health and wellness industry to promote the organic-food movement. He joined Traditional Medicinals, headquartered in Rohnert Park, 11 years ago as chief executive officer. “At Traditional Medicinals, I get to be part of a truly innovative social business model, which promotes social and environmental sustainability,” he says. Kellison grew up in Indianapolis, Ind., and currently lives in Petaluma with his wife, Laura, and their two daughters. He enjoys spending time with his family, whether it’s watching movies, playing games, hiking or biking.
Husband and wife team, Darcy and Christopher Barrow, are the co-founders and co-managing partners of Foundation Homes International in Kentfield, specializing in managing, leasing and selling Marin, Sonoma and San Francisco properties. Founded in 2010, the firm has more than $100 million of long-term residential single-family homes under rental management. This year, they’re launching their nonprofit, LifeBoost Charity Fund, next year—aimed at helping people, the planet and pets. They live in San Rafael with their daughter, Scarlett, and three dogs.
Chad Krilich, M.D., is the chief medical officer for St. Joseph Health in Sonoma County. Krilich joined the hospital in 2017 after eight years at MultiCare Health System in Tacoma, Wash. Krilich is passionate about his faith, family and fitness. He’s committed to leading a healthy lifestyle—an avid runner who has completed five marathons and still runs half marathons. “It’s fun to take on new challenges that people say are hard, and it’s a hobby that keeps me healthy,” he says. Krilich lives in Santa Rosa with his wife, Julie, and their two children, Alli and Drew.
John Bucher is the owner and operator of Bucher Farms, an organic family-run farm with 700 dairy cows in Healdsburg. He also owns Bucher Vineyard, which grows and provides Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes to several notable Sonoma County wineries. Bucher is a North Bay native who’s had three different addresses in his life—all on Westside Road in Healdsburg, where he currently lives on the Bucher family farm with his wife, Diane, and three of their five children.
Keith Woods is chief executive officer of North Coast Builders Exchange in Santa Rosa. He’s best known locally for his public speaking and frequent Master of Ceremonies work for many local organizations; his 13 years as president and chief executive officer of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce; leading the effort to start the Santa Rosa downtown market; and for helping the 1200-member Builders Exchange become a strong voice for the construction industry. Woods dabbles in golf and even had a hole-in-one a couple of years ago at the Santa Rosa Golf & Country Club. “It’s the first time I ever put a “1” on a scorecard without another number behind it,” he says. Woods lives in the Montecito Heights neighborhood of Santa Rosa, and considers his 31-year-old twins, Kevin and Kelly, to be close friends of his.
John Balletto is the owner of Balletto Vineyards in Santa Rosa, one of the top producing wineries in Sonoma County, with more than 600 acres of vineyards that provide grapes for the Balletto label and two-dozen wineries throughout the county. Balletto’s first vintage was in 2001, although he’s been in the agriculture business for 41 years, starting with five acres in 1977, and eventually producing more than one million cases of vegetables annually from 1988 to 1998 on his family’s property. He lives on his 110-acre vineyard in West Sebastopol with his wife, Terri Balletto, of 30 years.
Community Engagement Liaison for the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, Misti Harris, entered law enforcement after leaving her career as a land use planner, to pursue public and community safety. She now fulfills her dream of helping others, helping them understand how the Sheriffs Office provides services for the entire community and sharing the communitys thoughts on improvements with decision-makers in the Office. She was one of many first responders immediately following the October fires, and helped lead a team as a communication team-member sending out vital information to the public through Nixle alerts, social media and various communication platforms every day for three weeks. Harris lives in Forestville, where she can enjoy some of her favorite activities year-round—riding her motorcycle, practicing yoga and enjoying the outdoors with her dogs.
North Bay native, John Farrow, acquired a love for building during childhood, creating entire cities with Legos. Today, he is president and chief executive officer of Farrow Construction—a nationwide company specializing in green building, sustainability, permit and planning and various residential and commercial building projects. In his 27th year of business, Farrow’s grown from a small company that started from scratch, with no loans or financing, to a business generating more than $20 million annually. Farrow’s current focus is on helping rebuild the residential homes of those affected by the October wildfires.
Roni Brown is vice president and marketing director at Summit State Bank as well as the strategic planner of all marketing and branding objectives. She’s been in banking for more than 25 years, and is active in the community, serving as board president for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), which supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy so every abused or neglected child in the United States can be safe. Brown has lived in the North Bay most her life and currently lives in what’s left of the Coffey Park area of Santa Rosa. She’s the proud mother of her two daughters, and the grandmother of six grandchildren.
President and chief executive officer of Sonoma County tourism, Claudia Vecchio is an industry veteran with more than 30 years experience and a zest for travel that lives in her DNA. “From an early age, I heard tales of my grandparents traveling to far away countries,” she says. Born and raised in the Midwest, she eventually went on to Nevada where she was director of the state’s tourism and cultural affairs department, launching the statewide brand for Nevada. Vecchio currently lives in Cloverdale where she is spending time visiting local wineries and exploring the many wonders Sonoma County has to offer.
Sonoma County Sheriff, Rob Giordano, began his career in law enforcement in 1989 after working as an auto mechanic—something he was involved in since the age of 14. He started as a police officer for the Pittsburg Police Department where he worked for seven years. In 2017, he was appointed as Sheriff.
Chief executive officer and president of Auberge Resorts Collection, Craig Reid, has been in the hospitality business for almost 40 years. A graduate from Westminster College in London with a degree in hotel management, Reid thinks of running hotels as a team sport. “I’m deeply proud of how many ‘championship teams’ I have been a part of,” he says. This year, Travel and Leisure voted Auberge Resorts Collection the third best brand in the world and the leading brand in the Americas. “For me, that’s the equivalent of winning the Super Bowl, and all the credit goes to our fabulous team.”
Fire chief at Mountain Volunteer Fire Department and local hero, Loren Davis, has worked in the fire service more than 20 years. He entered the business after a bet on a basketball game to a friend and volunteer firefighter, which led him to join the Kenwood Volunteer Fire Department. Davis fell in love with his new career, and was eventually hired at Eldridge Fire Department in Glen Ellen. Davis was one of the first responders in October’s Tubbs Fire, where he and his crew from the Mountain Volunteer Fire Department were among the first on scene.
At 33, Clint St. Martin has been a hero most his life. He served in the Marine Corps as a staff sergeant and motor transport chief and deployed to Iraq in 2008. The North Bay native returned to Sonoma County and graduated with a degree in sociology from Sonoma State University. Longing for a sense of community andcamaraderie that the military provided, he joined the Mountain Volunteer Fire Department as afirefighter, engineer and certified emergency medical technician.
Bonnie Bergin is the founder of Canine Companions for Independence as well as founder, president and chief academic officer of Bergin University of Canine Studies, founded in 1991. She originated the concept of the service dog in 1975 and educates both humans and canines to change the world by helping people live more independent lives.
Josh Johnsen is corporate vice president and partner at George Petersen Insurance Agency in Santa Rosa. He graduated from Sacramento State University with a degree in business and an emphasis on insurance. Following in his father’s footsteps, he went to work in the insurance industry. He’s been in the insurance business for 25 years and attributes his strong work ethic to his parents.
Letitia Hanke is the chief executive officer and president of ARS Roofing, Solar and Electric in Santa Rosa. She grew up in Lake County and attended Sonoma State University from 1993 to 1997 with an emphasis on recording and performing arts in the music department. “I still enjoy getting away in my home studio,” she says. With a great love for Sonoma County, Hanke and her 14-year-old son, Emil, live in Windsor where she plans to stay.
Byron Enix is president and chief executive officer of American AgCredit in Santa Rosa. Born in Oklahoma, he grew up in Kansas. As he explains it, his career path was relatively straightforward. “I was told by my junior high social studies teacher that I couldn’t list ‘professional football player’ as my future career,” Enix says. “So I asked my dad what he did, as up until then I didn’t really know. And although my current profession wasn’t what my Dad did, he explained that there were companies that made loans to farmers and ranchers. So I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
is founder and chief executive officer of Navitas Organics in Novato. “I’m originally from Toronto, Canada, but I left in 1990 and have been on the West Coast ever since,” he says. “I started working at a very young age and in many ways have always been an entrepreneur. I started with a paint contracting business in Whistler, and then an import-export business in Vancouver."
Jim Brush is the president and chief executive officer of Summit State Bank in Santa Rosa. He was born in San Francisco and spent his childhood summers at the family cabin, along the Russian River in Summer Home Park. Brush graduated from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, in 1979 with a degree in accounting and earned his certified public accountant designation the same year. In 1982, he moved to Healdsburg and opened a tax practice there, where he worked for 21 years before selling the business in 2003. Today, he and his wife, Nancy, live in Healdsburg where they raised their three children, and share a passion for wanderlust.
Last year’s winner of Best Business Community Leader, Percy Brandon, is general manager of Vintners Inn/John Ash & Co. in Santa Rosa. Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Brandon moved to Canada in 1991, and Santa Rosa in 2000.
Sausalito resident Katie Schou is the executive director of the Send It Foundation. For Schou, the foundation has a particularly special meaning. “My older brother founded the Send It Foundation,” she says. “He was diagnosed with a rare cancer at the age of 35. An avid skier and outdoorsman, he had a vision to bring the activities that brought him strength and life during his fight for life to other young adults in the cancer fight. He founded Send It in the last year of his life. When he passed away, I left my job and took on the foundation to bring his vision to life.”
Jim Murphy is president of Jim Murphy and Associates, a construction company located in Santa Rosa. “I started in the drywall business when I was 23 years old,” says Murphy. “When I was 27 or 28, I started building some single-family homes, then when I was 30, I sold my drywall business. I’d been drag racing and was approached by Coca-Cola to race under their banner. I did this for four years all over the United States.
Dennis Hunter was born ahead of his time, and it cost him roughly a decade of his life, either underground and on the run, or behind bars. He co-founded CannaCraft, Inc., the highly successful S...
Welcome to NorthBay biz magazine’s inaugural Business of Cannabis issue. When I started working for the magazine as a freelance writer eight years ago, I would never have guessed I’d be ...
The North Bay’s cannabis industry is becoming more stable as operators have largely recovered from the stark changes imposed by last July’s regulations. Businesses across the tri...