Rick founded Avangard Innovative more than 30 years ago and transformed it into the largest waste and recycling company in the Americas. His primary focus is on transforming the waste and recycling industry into a “smart, efficient and circular process”. Rick has been a proven leader showcasing his entrepreneurial and visionary character by introducing a proprietary technology-based process that enables companies to visualize, measure, manage and monetize their recyclable materials. Through thoughtful leadership, Rick guides a stellar lineup of industry experts and their teams, all driven to deliver on the company’s mission to “create enterprise value for our environmental partners through achieving their ESG goals”.
Mr. Walker Chan is the co-founder of Avangard Innovative, and currently holds the top leadership position in Research and Development, as well as the Import/Export trade of the business. In this capacity, Walker is accountable the company’s engineering and technical needs in different fields, as well as to scout out new technologies and innovation for the company’s future development. Walker’s experiences include machine designs, machine manufacturing, software development, customizing mechanical solutions for the waste industry, and identifying plastic material applications.
Mr. Reinhard recently joined Avangard Innovative as Chief Commercial Officer. In this capacity Eric was accountable for all external customer, vendor, and environmental partner affairs. He is also tasked with advancing the company industry purpose and company branding. He has since been named President of Avangard Innovative, leading that business unit throughout all its operations. Prior to joining Avangard, Eric served as Region President, Sysco South Texas, where he was responsible for all operating functions of the business at the companies Houston and New Braunfels (Austin/San Antonio) sites. Prior to joining Sysco, Eric was CEO of Spyglass Capital Partners, LLC, a collaborative effort by beverage entrepreneurs formed to identify early-stage brands and innovations that directly impact the beverage industry and was a Partner at Rumble, LLC, a consulting firm that provides guidance and strategic planning for early-stage consumer products.
Jon Stephens is the President of Avangard Innovative’s (AI) Natura PCR division, the manufacturing business unit producing post-consumer resins (PCR). He is responsible for the business strategy, technical performance and applications for PCR, marketing, sand sales for one of the largest polyethylene film grade PCR manufacturing facilities in the Americas. Stephens has more than 24 years of experience in the plastics recycling industry. He is a recognized industry leader in plastics materials processing, recycling and waste optimization, and commodities marketing. Stephens is involved in many industry and non-profit organizations in his pursuit of environmental and sustainability excellence. He has served on the board of directors for the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), Keep Texas Beautiful and the Recycling Committee for the PLASTICS association.
Mr. Gradvohl joined Avangard Innovative Group in 2021 as Chief Financial Officer (CFO). As CFO of the Avangard innovative Group, his responsibilities include Investor and lending relationship management, Capital raising and financing, operational and financial strategy, assessment of organic and acquisition expansion opportunities, governance, compliance and risk management. In his previous role with Hastings Equity partners, he served as CFO for 3 Hastings portfolio companies. Mr. Gradvohl was fundamental in leading the legal, financial and cultural integration of the 3 entities, purchase accounting efforts, implementation of higher audit standards, compliance and governance procedures, and the development of the go forward market strategy.
Mr. Herrera is co-founder and shareholder of Innovative Management Group Investments (IMG Investments) and the president of Innovative Group (IG). Innovative Group is the leading provider of integral solutions for recyclables, to retailers and multinational corporations, specializes in the implementation of turn-key recycling programs to identify, recover, reduce cost, and maximize the byproducts generated in their plants, distribution centers and stores, currently operating in 6 countries (Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica). In addition, Mr. Herrera was also the co-founder and shareholder of PETSTAR, a plant in Mexico that recycles PET into food-grade recycled resin, which is sold to the domestic bottling industry.
Shafiq is an accomplished supply chain management, finance and analytics executive with more than 20 years experience. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer North America for Avangard Innovative, a $100M annual business. His focus is on scaling the operations leveraging the company’s Sustayn hardware and software-as-a-service platform helping transform the waste and recyclables industry. Shafiq started his career in Sales, moved into Finance and onto Supply Chain and Operations. That experience, along with scaling up NatureSweet’s supply chain operations enabling the company to grow from $60M in annual revenues to over $225M, is now being applied towards the digitization of the waste and recycling industry.
Adrian Collins is the Senior Vice President of Development at Avangard Innovative (AI). He is responsible for AI’s strategic planning processes, international and domestic expansion, and stakeholder engagement. An expert in logistics and high-level executive support for more than 20 years, Collins moved into the waste and recycling industry following his political career. Adrian worked in Texas and U.S. politics for more than 15 years, serving as a senior staff member in the Texas State House of Representatives and the Texas State Senate. Adrian also served as a Presidential Appointee in the Obama Administration for eight years. He served in roles that included Director of Operations for the United States Department of Energy; Deputy Director of Advance for the United States Environmental Protection Agency; and Lead Advance Associate in the Executive Office of the President at the White House. After his presidential appointment, Adrian served as Director of Operations at the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation (HCSCC).
Adrian is a Certified Venue Professional.
Mr. Stalnaker is currently serving as Vice President of Strategic Sourcing for Avangard Innovative. In this role Joe is responsible for ensuring their manufacturing facilities have ample feedstock to maintain customer demands. Mr. Stalnaker has over 30 years of experience in Recycling and Warehouse leadership. From 1993-2004, he worked in distribution and warehousing for companies such as Unisource Worldwide, McMaster Carr, Ace Hardware and Rooms To Go Furniture in various capacities. Mr. Stalnaker joined Avangard Innovative in 2004 and has assisted in building the US Natura model of business that Avangard uses today. Mr. Stalnaker has successfully built programs with many of the top industry leaders within Warehousing, Distribution, Logistics and Retail today. He serves on the Texas Retailers Association Board. He is an active member of Suppliers Partnership for the Automotive industry, previously was on the Board of Advisors for the Sustainable Furnishings Council, previously on the Board of Directors for Quilts for Kids a non-profit that provides quilts to children in hospitals across America.
Mr. Herrera joined Avangard Innovative in 2022 as the Vice President of Business Development. In this role, Ryan will be responsible for the development of new prospective clients, fostering relationships with existing clients, and strategically planning with the internal Business Development team and Operations team to develop programs most suited to fit our client’s needs, ensuring they meet their company goals and initiatives. Ryan has over 16 years of experience in business development and accelerating growth within these organizations. Prior to joining Avangard, Ryan served as the Vice President of Business Development for Strike LLC, an energy services firm in the oil and gas sector focused on midstream construction and Integrity services where he was responsible for expanding Strike’s footprint in the market and development of the major capital projects group as well as the eastern region spanning from Texas to the east coast.
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