Management Team

The management team at Botanic Innovations is comprised of seasoned business professionals, aided by a group of specialist advisors.

Mark J. Mueller

Founder, Chief Technology Officer & Board Member

Mark MuellerMark Mueller, a life-long student of botany, is one of the founders of the Company and has served in his current capacity as President since 2003. With a Master’s of Science Degree in Water Resource Management from the University of Wisconsin, Mark gained extensive experience in rural business innovation and technology programs, working for the University of Minnesota-Duluth Center for Economic Development, the Northwest Regional Planning Commission (NWRPC) and the Wisconsin Business Innovation Corporation (WBIC). As executive director of NWRPC and most recently as a consultant to that organization, he has been involved in strategic direction, development of a regional network of business enterprise centers and the formulation of equity financing fund.

Dick Blackader

CEO & Board Member

dickDick Blackader joined the Botanic Innovations team as Chief Operating Officer in October, 2010 and he has transitioned his role to CEO in Spring 2016. Dick’s long and successful track record in operations management includes roles with 3M, Imation and Accenture. He has extensive operational experience in field service, resource cost management, logistics, operations management and sales support. Dick has proven abilities and extensive experience in management of P&L’s, change management, CRM, and business development. He is a graduate of the University of Redlands where he earned a BS in Business Administration and Management.

Al Hogen

President and COO

AlHogenAl joined the Botanic Innovations LLC team as Chief Operating Officer in 2016. In his role he is responsible for the dietary supplement and ingredient business. Al is a seasoned professional with broad operations experience. His thirty plus years in operations included leading large operations in Wisconsin and Iowa for Polaris as Director of Operations. Al currently serves as the Chairperson of a rural healthcare organization and is a graduate of Lakeland College where he earned a BA in Business Administration.

Steve Groenewold

Chief Financial Officer

Steve has more than 20 years of progressive successful financial leadership experience. He’s a resourceful executive with a track record of building, leading, and advising private and public companies to achieve business objectives, generate growth, and realize cost savings. He is adept at designing and implementing business performance metrics, strategic plans, and multimillion-dollar budgets. Steve assists the Company with accounting, finance and general business operations.

Gregory R. (Greg) Palen

Board Member

gregGreg Palen has enjoyed a long and successful career as executive, entrepreneur and investor in companies spanning several industries. Botanic Innovations and the Immuno-Viva line of products hold special importance to Greg. Having lost his mother to cancer, he is acutely concerned about advances in cancer research. Currently Greg is the chairman/CEO of Spectro Alloys Corporation and a managing partner of Palen Property Management. He serves as chairman of the Board for Polaris Industries, Inc. He also serves on the board of directors of a number of other corporations including Valspar Corporation and Fabcon, Inc. He holds a B.A. from St. John’s University and a M.B.A. from the University of Minnesota.

Charles Muscoplat, PhD.

Board Member

chuckDr. Muscoplat is currently a Professor of Food Science and Nutrition and an adjunct professor of Medicine and Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Minnesota.  He is currently Chair of Committee for Pharmaceutical Development (CPD); a newly formed University pilot project to assist faculty wishing to commercialize pharmaceutical inventions.   He was Vice President of Agricultural Policy and Dean Emeritus, College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Minnesota.  Dr. Muscoplat has more than nineteen years in the pharmaceutical industry with MGI Pharma, Inc. and has successfully developed new drugs in oncology and rheumatology from preclinical to Phase III trials and FDA approval. Dr. Muscoplat consults in the pharmaceutical industry.

John S. McKeon

Board Member

jackJack McKeon retired in 2005 from ConAgra Foods where he served as president of the Venture Development Group. In that position, he was responsible for identifying emerging food and food-related investment opportunities for ConAgra and managing the company’s interests in those enterprises. One of the opportunities that caught his eye was Botanic Innovations, and the idea of bringing healthier, science based ingredients into the snack food business. Prior to joining ConAgra, Jack was a principal for seventeen years in an investment banking business that specialized in mergers and acquisitions in the food industry. He was also a founding partner of The Food Fund, a venture capital company. An alumni of the University of Minnesota and General Mills, Jack also serves on a number of boards including that of Hawkins, Inc., a publicly-owned distributor of food ingredients and pharmaceuticals in Minneapolis, where he is chairman.