S&W Seed Company (Nasdaq: SANW) announced today that Mark W. Wong, an executive with more than 40 years of experience developing agribusinesses and a current member of the S&W Board of Directors, has been named S&W’s CEO effective immediately. Mark Grewal, who served the Company as CEO since October 2009, resigned as CEO and as a member of the Board of Directors. Mr. Grewal is expected to remain with S&W as a consultant. Today’s leadership announcement is part of S&W’s strategic initiative to maintain its leadership position in its core alfalfa crop, while expanding its portfolio into complimentary crops and technologies where S&W has the potential to become the dominant player in the forage market in the years to come.
Mark Harvey, Chairman of S&W Seed Company, said, “During this time of evolution at S&W, there is no person better equipped to lead S&W into the next stage of our growth than Mark Wong. Mark Wong brings experience in developing multiple successful agricultural companies, having sold three companies to industry leaders like Monsanto and Syngenta aggregating more than $750 million in shareholder value. Additionally, Mark Wong is chairman of one of the twenty largest dairies in the United States, American Dairyco, which provides him with a unique understanding of the role alfalfa and other forages play in meeting the protein demands of a growing global population. Mark Wong’s vast experience across multiple crops and technologies will help position S&W as we expand our crop portfolio, while maintaining our leadership position in alfalfa.”
Wong, 68 has more than 40 years of experience in agribusiness, with particular expertise in technology integration and commercialization. Since January 2012, Mr. Wong has served as Chairman of American Dairyco, the owner and operator of dairies in Florida and Georgia. Between 2008 and December 2015, he served either as Chairman of the Board or chief executive officer of Agrivida, a private company that is developing and commercializing high-performance products that incorporate novel, regulated proteins precisely engineered for specific applications in a variety of markets, including animal nutrition, bio-based fuels and chemicals, and industrial enzymes.
Wong was the founder and CEO, from 1999 to 2005, at Emergent Genetics, an international seed biotech company that was sold to Monsanto Company in 2005 for more than $325 million. Emergent Genetics Vegetable A/S, which was excluded from the Monsanto transaction, was later sold to Syngenta for approximately $50 million. Mr. Wong managed a series of other agricultural and biotechnology companies, including Agracetus Corporation, a plant biotechnology company that was sold to Monsanto in 1992 for $250 million, and Agrigenetics Corporation one of the first seed and biotechnology companies to transform plants with genes that was sold to Lubrizol Corporation for $150 million in 1985. He also served on the Board of Agraquest when it was sold to Bayer for $425 Million.
Wong was a founder and a partner, since 2009, of Colorado Financial Holdings (CFH), a private venture investment and investment bank that specializes in the agricultural, energy and biotechnology sectors. He was General Manager Niagara Seeds a division of FMC Corporation. Wong also worked as an engineer for Chemical Construction Corporation and served as a director of BioFuel Energy Corp., a publicly traded corn ethanol company from January 2008 until October 2014, and Chairman from March 2010 to October 2014, when it was renamed Green Brick Partners following an acquisition and recapitalization transaction. Mr. Wong received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Lehigh University and his M.B.A. in finance from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
Mark Grewal helped shape S&W into the global alfalfa seed leader it is today. His understanding of the alfalfa seed industry guided S&W’s expansion from a small non-dormant alfalfa seed provider with seed production limited to the San Joaquin Valley of California and a small distribution footprint, into a global leader with capabilities that span the world’s alfalfa seed producing regions in the Western United States, including the San Joaquin and Imperial Valleys of California, as well as Australia and Canada. S&W, which now boasts a wide portfolio of alfalfa seed offerings, sells into more than 30 countries around the globe.
Mr. Harvey continued, “Mark Grewal has helped to position S&W as a global leader in the alfalfa seed industry. He was instrumental in expanding our production, distribution and development capabilities. I would like to thank him for the relentless work he put in developing S&W to this critical point in our history, and look forward to the possibility of working with him in the years to come as a consultant to the Company.”
About S&W Seed Company
Founded in 1980, S&W Seed Company is a global agricultural Company, headquartered in the San Joaquin Valley of California. The Company’s vision is to be the world’s preferred proprietary seed Company which supplies a range of forage and specialty crop products that supports the growing global demand for animal proteins and healthier consumer diets. The Company is a global leader in alfalfa seed, with significant research and development, production and distribution capabilities. S&W’s capabilities span the world’s alfalfa seed production regions, with operations in the Western United States, including the San Joaquin and Imperial Valleys of California, Australia, and Canada, and S&W sells its seed products in more than 30 countries around the globe. The Company also provides hybrid sorghum and sunflower, and is utilizing its research and breeding expertise to develop and produce stevia, the all-natural, zero calorie sweetener for the food and beverage industry. For more information, please visit www.swseedco.com.