Our Team

James Szarko

President & CEO

An entrepreneur at heart, James brings to Botaneco® a vast array of experiences in technology-focused start-ups through every stage of their development. Involved as an investor, advisor, executive and board member, James has run the gamut of entrepreneurialism and, as Botaneco’s President and CEO, is committed to crafting Botaneco® as a truly global business with a focus on excellence and a commitment to building a high performing team. Identifying as a Courageous Explorer, James believes that a strong balance of grit and determination and focusing on what really matters are key to cultivating a healthy organization.

Jos De Smedt

Chief Financial Officer

With over 30 years of experience in finance and accounting, including holding previous positions as Partner, CFO, CEO and Chairman of an audit committee for both public and privately held organizations, Jos brings to Botaneco® invaluable knowledge in the areas of strategy, process reengineering, system implementations and project management for finance and accounting related initiatives. As a Difference Maker, Jos believes in driving business through corporate accountability, focused long and short term planning and an unwavering commitment to getting the job done.

Dave Matthews

Production Leader

With a chemistry background and decades of innovation in Omega-3 extraction technology, Dave brings experience and a vision for tailor-made design to Botaneco’s manufacturing ambitions. Already established internationally as a developer of proprietary processes and a driver of growth, Dave comes to Botaneco® having built 13 plants across four different countries in addition to leading numerous expansion projects. Identifying most as a Courageous Explorer, Dave believes that it takes a combination of industry knowledge and ingenuity to develop manufacturing solutions capable of supporting Botaneco’s unique products.

Kent Shafer


Kent Shafer has 15 years of experience within process design, research and development, supply chain and production management and project management. With a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences and 6 years of formal training as a chef, Kent offers invaluable knowledge, innovation management and manufacturing facility design expertise. On deck next for Kent is manufacturing automation design and logic programming to further aid production quality and full scale manufacturing capabilities.

Kristin Brancato

Chief Technology Officer

Kristin Brancato has over 17 years of experience in technical and executive positions in the consumer products space primarily focusing on new product development for home care, personal care, women’s health, and the nutraceutical markets. Bringing invaluable knowledge and expertise, she plays a key role in establishing and delivering Botaneco’s innovation and technology strategy. Kristin has a Ph.D. in Bioinorganic Chemistry from the University of Notre Dame, a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Pennsylvania State University, and is the holder of six patents.

Stacey Walstrum

Chief Sales & Marketing Officer

With over 20 years of brand marketing and sales experience, including management of brands for Prince Tennis, Benetton and Sara Lee Household & Body Care, Stacey brings Botaneco the know-how to develop high impact brand strategies, drive product innovation, and work across all sales channels to drive market penetration.  Botaneco® has a unique, natural product offering that aligns with today’s consumers who want to use more natural products to keep their families safe and healthy.