Essential Living Foods is founded on an unwavering commitment to true quality.
Essential Living Foods is extremely proud of its team members. We feel that our excellent business performance comes from only one place --our employees and all of their hard work, dedication and devotion. We strive for a positive and uplifting work environment where peopleare relaxed yet hard working, passionate about healthy foods and healingthe planet, professional and driven to high performance and results.Our executive team has diverse backgrounds and skill sets, creating a well balance team to drive our mission of sustainable business – profitable, with positive social impact, and ecological sensitivity.
Kipp Stroden, Chairman and CEO
Kipp L. Stroden is the Co-Founder of BeON Holdings Inc. and CEO and Chairman of its subsidiary, Essential Living Foods Inc. Essential Living Foods was instrumental in pioneering the RAW-Superfoods industry, a multibillion dollar segment within the fast-growing natural products industry. The company continues to spearhead growth in this category, with an industry-leading brand that offers consumers both personal value (with innovative functional foods of the highest-quality and nutrition) and planetary value (with a business model and brand founded on positive-impact in farming communities and ecosystems throughout the supply chain). Mr. Stroden drives growth through biz dev, fundraising, product development, vendor relations, online initiatives, infrastructure improvements, operational modernization and streamlining.
As figurehead for the brand's social enterprise model, Kipp is regularly featured in videos of his product-sourcing missions to exotic and dangerous locations around the world -- videos that verify both the company's positive social impact, uncompromising quality and direct from the farm supply chain of its premium Superfoods. Prior to joining Essential Living Foods in 2006, Mr. Stroden captained a range of successful, high-energy entrepreneurial projects and companies. He spent 12 years as a music industry entrepreneur and artist manager and event producer, co-founding two independent record labels and co-producing 18 music festivals and philanthropic events. He has also ran a successful design-build construction firm, in addition to moonlighting as a wilderness survival instructor.
Mr. Stroden is dedicated to increasing health and happiness in the world by evangelizing healthy lifestyles and providing innovative products that support optimal wellness for both consumers and the farmers at the foundation of the supply chain. Mr. Stroden graduated with a BA in Economics from Skidmore College.
Jensen Thome, COO
Having garnered recognition from industry and media alike, Jensen was named one of Portland's Top 40 under 40 in 2013, and was a successful Chief Manufacturing officer at 25 years young. His insights have helped restructure and refine efficiencies at every level of organization, fostered successful company culture, and directed operations that have saved millions of dollars. A health food enthusiast, Jensen has also been a private pilot since 2002 and holds a BS in Human Resource Development from Indiana State. Combining youthful enthusiasm with an indomitable mid-western work ethic, Jensen Thome joined Essential Living Foods in early 2015 and exercises a passion for the natural foods industry.
GURUDHAN KHALSA, VP of Sales
Gurudhan was most recently the VP os Sales for Sweetleaf Stevia where he helped lead sales growth in excess of 20% annually. Prior to that he was the VP of Sales for Yogi Tea and Golden Temple Cereals during their development from an emerging brand to over 100+ million dollars. Mr. Khalsa's industry experience traces back to 1997 when we got started with SGN Brokerage a natural products brokerage severing over 30+ brands. Gurudhan Khalsa holds a Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School and BS in Business Admin from SUNY at Buffalo.
Lambert Van Hulst, VP of Operations
Lambert Van Hulst grew up in the Netherlands, where he was introduced to health food and alternative medicine at an early age. During his youth he spent much of his time outdoors and sailing on the water, a pastime he still enjoys today. Lambert derives tremendous satisfaction from helping others, and is personally driven by the desire to improve quality of life for all beings.
Lambert studied at the International School of Economics, Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Madrid in Spain, receiving a double degree in Business Administration and International Management. His final traineeship in Mexico formed the basis for a Spanish-language thesis on the effects of culture on organizations and change management. Before joining Essential Living Foods, Lambert worked as a consultant in the Netherlands for several service, logistics and e-commerce companies, drawing on his prior experience as VP Operations & COO at Fulfillment Express, a third-party logistics company.
Lambert joined Essential Living Foods at the beginning of 2012 and has been instrumental in the implementation of the new ERP and warehouse-management system. In mid-2012, he managed every aspect of the company's relocation to its new Culver City facility, and continues to improve operations efficiency to the highest standards while contributing to Essential Living Foods' healthy and happy workplace culture.
Michael Besancon, Director
Business Executive, Entrepreneur, Environmental and Social Advocate, Retired Senior VP of Purchasing, Marketing and Distribution Whole Foods Market. Over forty years experience in the Natural/Organic Foods and Grocery Industries, including retail, distribution, sales, manufacturing, product and business development. Serial entrepreneur founding successful retail, sales, manufacturing and restaurant companies. Spearheaded multiple environmental, social and animal compassion initiatives. Recognized industry expert who has spoken before congressional committees and at universities, professional and environmental conferences.
Hugo Van Seenus, Director
Hugo is one of the early pioneers of the natural foods industry. He developed this passion as a child growing up around open-air markets in Europe and Indonesia. A native of The Netherlands, Hugo traveled throughout his youth, was educated at the International School and spent several years in Indonesia.
This upbringing gave him a palate for food that was as close to its natural state as possible. It also taught him the value of building relationships with the people who produce the food we eat, as daily interactions with farmers, cheese makers, butchers and food artisans were part of the experience of these open air markets. When Hugo moved to the U.S., he was struck by the fact that it was nearly impossible to find the all-natural foods he had become accustomed to in his youth.
These experiences, combined with his involvement in the counter-culture movement, launched a nearly 40-year career in the burgeoning industry of natural foods retail. Hugo started as a founding partner of the first two natural and organic food stores in Amsterdam. He moved to the U.S. in 1972 and worked for Erewhon Natural Foods. Erewhon was one of the first vertically integrated companies dedicated to natural foods that contracted with farmers, and managed manufacturing, distribution and retail. In 1974, Hugo co-founded one of the premier and pioneer natural and organic foods chains, Bread and Circus. Bread and Circus was eventually acquired by Whole Foods Market.
Hugo moved to Washington D.C. in 1980 and opened Hugo’s Natural Foods Market, which he owned and successfully operated until the store was sold in 1990. He then moved to Santa Barbara, California and co-founded Lazy Acres Market in 1990. This store quickly became recognized as one of the most successful natural foods stores in the U.S. In addition to excellence in the area of natural and organic products merchandising, quality and customer service, Lazy Acres Market was known for its employee-centric operating philosophy and culture. Hugo owned and operated Lazy Acres Market until it was acquired in 2005 by Bristol Farms. Hugo holds mathematics, art, history and language degrees from the University of Oxford’s International School.