New OmniActive CEO says he follows example of famous football coach

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Omniactive sources lutein from marigolds. ©Getty Images - Danil Bukharov
Omniactive sources lutein from marigolds. ©Getty Images - Danil Bukharov

Related tags Lutein Lutein esters Zeaxanthin Turmeric

New OmniActive CEO Mark Dewis said he takes a cue from a legendary football coach when thinking about how to take the legacy ingredient supplier to the next level.

“It’s Bill Walsh,”​ Dewis said immediately when asked if a coach taking on a new team was an apt analogy. Walsh famously took the cellar dwelling San Francisco 49ers to multiple Super Bowl championships and a run of enduring success in the 1980s that has few matches in NFL history. 

Walsh revolutionized football coaching in is his holistic and detailed approach to the game. He conceived of an NFL team like any other business delivering a competitive product. Organizational excellence would more often than not trump brute force.

“The real task in sports is to bring together groups of people to accomplish something. Those teams that have been most successful are the ones that have demonstrated the greatest commitment to their people,”​  Walsh once told the Harvard Business Review​.

Making everyone matter

“Omniactive is in a better position than the 49ers were, but it’s a basic philosophy.  Everyone in the organization is connected and is important to the delivery of the brand.  From someone in manufacturing, to the frontline sales team, to the office support staff—they are all connected and all important,” ​Dewis said.

Dewis, whose appointment was announced by the firm yesterday, said among his first tasks will be to get to know the personnel, to take a pulse of the company’s current state of affairs.

Then he’ll embark on a mission to take a pulse of the marketplace. How does OmniActive see its products and services, and do the company’s current and potential customers share that outlook?

Familiarity with agricultural supply chains 

Headshot_Mark Dewis_SMALL
Mark Dewis

While he’s still in the early days of getting familiar with OmniActive, Dewis said his past experience will make him a quick study.

OmniActive has headquarters in New Jersey and Mumbai, India. Omniactive’s main products center on macular carotenoids and curcumin ingredients.  In some of these product lines the company is vertically integrated, with extensive contract farming operations in India in marigolds and turmeric.

Dewis spent a number of years with International Flavors and Fragrances, where much of the inputs, such as citrus ingredients and spices, came from agricultural resources.  So he’s well versed in the challenges such a supply chain imposes.  Mitigating potential weather risk and even geopolitical threats is something he’ll take into account, Dewis said.

Matching vision

Dewis said he had long discussions with company’s major investors, which include private equity firm TA Associates and founder Sanjaya Mariwala.

“I developed a great deal of comfort with the vision, the approach and the aspiration of the investors in terms of the journey they wanted to take Omni on,” ​Dewis said. “It matched my own personal aspirations and values for where I wanted to finish my career.”

“It is a company that is using technology and ingredients that are truly creating a benefit for the consumer.  They are not just being sold on marketing and trends,”​ Dewis said.

“When I came to OmniActive I came with an understanding in a broad sense what customers value.  From that foundation we build what is the best strategic way forward,”​ he added.

Simplifying the story for future grow

Dewis said among the goals of that strategic plan will be to find a way to simplify the story of what the company’s ingredients offer to customers and to consumers.  In any case, for the company’s core products, the future is bright, he said.  With everyone shut up at home increasingly staring at computer screens eye health has become a major concern, for example.

“This company has some industry leading positions than can still provide some baseline growth,”​ he said.

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