Marrone Bio Innovations adds commercial chief following $75m recap

Founder Pam Marrone says former BASF exec Kevin Hammill will bring further heft to the business after an equity injection led by Ospraie Management.

Kevin Hammill

Marrone Bio Innovations, a California-headquartered provider of bio-based pest management products, has hired agrochemical and biologicals executive Kevin Hammill as chief commercial officer.

The Davis-based role will see Hammill oversee all sales, marketing and commercial aspects of the business and report to chief executive and founder Pam Marrone, the latter told Agri Investor.

Hammill joins MBI after two years as chief operating officer with Pivot Bio, a Berkeley, California-based company that uses naturally occurring microbes to enhance crop productivity. He had previously spent five years as a territory sales manager and an additional two years as a regional sales manager with American Cyanamid, before the unit he worked in was acquired by German chemical producer BASF in 2000.

After subsequent management positions with BASF, Hammill joined Valent, a Walnut Creek, California-headquartered unit of Sumitomo Chemical, as a senior director for US marketing in 2004. In 2014, Hammill became Valent’s vice-president of ag operations and strategy, position he held until joining Pivot Bio in 2016.

Institutional interest

Marrone told Agri Investor that MBI needed an experienced commercial executive like Hammill to grow and that US specialty crops were likely to be his immediate focus in the new role.

She added that MBI had seen increased interest from institutional investors following a $75 million Ospraie Management-led recapitalization in February and that the company had been especially pleased with the firm’s addition of board chairman Bob Woods.

“They’ve [Ospraie] already brought a lot of contacts from the industry – and from ag and farming operations – to us,” Marrone said.

Citing recent conversations, she reckoned large agricultural operations are taking sustainability more seriously than in previous years. Younger generations of farmers may be playing a role in driving increased demand for MBI’s offerings, according to Marrone, which include crop protection and enhancement products derived from microorganisms collected from flowers, insects, soil and compost.

“A lot of farmland owners are wanting to try sustainable products. First of all, they’ve figured out it’s more money in their pocket. But it [also] really helps them with their supply chains. They don’t have to worry about issues with big food buyers,” she said.