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Guayakí Yerba Mate Strengthens Leadership: Promotes Rutledge, Welcomes Mand as CEO to Spearhead Future Growth
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Guayakí Yerba Mate Strengthens Leadership: Promotes Rutledge, Welcomes Mand as CEO to Spearhead Future Growth

Benjamin Mand appointed Chief Executive Officer, Robyn Rutledge, Interim CEO, Promoted to Executive Chair, Consumer Visionary, Steve Lesnard Appointed to the Board

VENICE, Calif. / SEBASTOPOL, Calif., March 21, 2024 - Guayakí Yerba Mate, the category leader in yerba mate, is pleased to announce the appointment of industry veteran Benjamin (Ben) Mand as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Robyn Rutledge, who has served as interim CEO since November 2023, will continue as a leader of the company in the role of Board Executive Chair.

“As I transition to Board Executive Chair, I want to recognize and sincerely thank Chris Mann, our outgoing Chair, for his contributions over the past 28 years in building Guayakí into a generational company,” said Rutledge. Chris served as the company’s CEO from 1998 to2018 and will continue as an integral member of the company’s Board.

Mand joins the company at an exciting time. “Yerba Mate is increasingly known and enjoyed by consumers. Our national distribution network is established and ready to connect the last leg of our seed-to-shelf distribution model, bringing our growers in South America and our passionate consumers closer together. Our recent launch of on-trend, low-sugar and low-calorie organic innovation SKUs, including Berry Lemonade, has propelled us into a new phase of growth. We are proud of our early leadership in this category.  With our strategic partnerships, we will continue to steer the yerba mate category and embrace the responsibility of stewarding regenerative practices across our industry,” said Rutledge.

"Ben's proven success with leading organic brands resonates deeply with our mission at Guayakí Yerba Mate,” said Rutledge. A natural food and beverage industry veteran, Mand is known for building global brands and high-performing teams that scale purpose along with profit. At Harmless Harvest, Mand demonstrated his commitment and ability to shepherd and scale industry-defining and high-quality organic coconut products.

Additionally, his significant contributions at Plum Organics underscore his talent for driving brand growth through marketing and innovation, establishing new benchmarks in the industry.

“With two decades dedicated to scaling and creating value for food and beverage businesses, I am excited to lead Guayakí through its next phase of growth,” said Mand. “I'm joining a beloved brand with incredible purpose, which is invigorating.  As we embark on this next chapter, I'm ready to work closely with the team and Board to build on our brand's tremendous momentum.”

Additionally, the Board is pleased to welcome Steve Lesnard, a globally acclaimed brand strategist, as a Board Director. With decades of experience in global marketing and brand management, Lesnard has helped build and lead iconic brands. His extensive background includes more than 20 years at Nike, where he held various leadership roles, notably in the Women’s and Running divisions, and led campaigns for the Olympics and World Cup. At The North Face, he served as the head of Product Creation and Global CMO, and most recently, the Global Chief Brand Officer at Sephora. Lesnard's strategic brand expertise is expected to greatly complement the Board's capabilities.

About Guayakí Yerba Mate

Based in Sebastopol and Venice, California, Guayakí [Gwy-uh-kee] is the leader in yerba mate [yer-bah ma-tay] beverages. As a certified B Corp and registered Social Purpose Corporation, Guayakí's regenerative business model aspires to create a net positive impact in the world throughout its operations and supply web, starting at the source. That's why Guayakí sources shade-grown, certified regenerative, organic, and fair-trade mate that helps conserve and restore the Atlantic Forest in South America. Guayakí works closely with smallholder and Indigenous producers to implement its high environmental and social impact standards and invest in community-driven projects. Guayakí products are available at more than 45,000 stores across the US and Canada. More information about retail locations and products can be found online at www.Guayaki.com.