Wyandot Snacks expands leadership team and capacity to deliver on B Corp values
BY JORDAN WINTER
MARION, OH — Wyandot Snacks, a better-for-you (BFY) national snack manufacturer, has filled two new- ly created senior management roles that support the company’s geographic and product line expansions, as well as its commitment to environmental and social responsibility.
Ravi Chermala, an accomplished food safety and global quality management systems leader, is the company’s new VP of quality & food safety. He leads Wyandot’s culture of safety; ensures engagement among company stakeholders; and directs all of the company’s quality assurance policies.
Stephen Shamrock, the company’s new VP of finance, brings expertise in strategic business development, mergers and acquisitions and investor relations. He manages Wyandot’s financial reporting structure, provides guidance around capital financing options to support company growth and coordinates relationships with lending and financial institutions.
“As befits our B Corp certification, we are committed to delivering ever higher quality products in an increasingly safe workplace environment,” said Rob Sarlls, CEO and president of Wyandot. “Additionally, we are utilizing our financial resources to develop new products and secure new geographic presence in the rapidly grow- ing better-for-you marketplace.”
This expansion contributes to Wyandot’s capacity to deliver on its commitment to “being a force for good.” As a Certified B Corp — a growing movement that encompasses 4,000 companies in more than 150 industries and 70 countries — Wyandot meets rigorous legal standards of social and sustainability performance. Their goal is to positively impact stakeholders such as its neighbors, co-workers, suppliers and the environment.
And as a SNAC International chair, Sarlls hopes to lead by example and spread B Corp values further in the industry.
“Capitalism needs to be directed for good,” Sarlls said. “My philosophy is, everybody needs to win and there should be no losers. Winning means being a net benefit to everything you touch, with everything you do both within and outside the company.”
But with so many issues in the world, it can be hard for organizations to decide where to start making an impact. That’s why many B Corps focus their philanthropic efforts into the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Ranging from gender equality to climate action, these SDGs provide a framework for doing good in the world. Wyandot has focused on donating both time and money to SDG #2: Zero Hunger, the goal most aligned with its sector.
“It’s interesting how we actually selected the goal, because we brought four UN initiatives to our entire workforce and we had town hall discussion to vote on it,” Sarlls said. “Everybody was behind the hunger element. For years, we’d already had a dedication to providing that benefit and trying to solve that need with product donation. But you have to put your money where your mouth is. With our B Corp certification, we’ve agreed to put at least 50% of our charitable efforts toward any sort of ending-hunger initiatives.”
The B Impact Assessment is the tool that quantitatively measures a company’s impact in four areas: governance, workers, community and environment. Wyandot scored highest in the workers category.
“One thing we’ve always aspired to do is to be the employer of choice in our immediate area and surrounding community,” Sarlls said. “We bring what I call ‘financial literacy’ opportunities to our workers, so not only providing an above-average base hourly rate but also 401(k) matches and information on saving money for retirement.”
“Capitalism needs to be directed for good,” Sarlls said. “My philosophy is, everybody needs to win and there should be no losers.”
These benefits include a high standard for work-life balance. In January, Wyandot’s leadership team made the decision to give employees two days off each year to do volunteer work on something B-Corp related. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 2022 will be the first time Wyandot’s entire workforce will donate time to food banks and other hunger-related initiatives. Additionally, this September, the company will shut down completely for one day so employees can engage in volunteer work for four hours — and get paid for eight.
According to Sarlls, these B Corp initiatives go hand- in-hand with Wyandot’s role in the better-for-you snack space.
“They’re connected completely,” Sarlls said. “Treating yourself well physically and making things to eat that are less harmful — or even beneficial — to the environment are aligned with being a B Corp. Conscious eating is so important, as people are starting to ask themselves why they eat what they eat. Then the other thing is voting with your dollars. Increasingly, younger consumers globally are saying, ‘I don’t want to give my dollar or euro or yen to a company unless their values align with mine.’”
Wyandot Snacks is leading that front. And as a driver of change, Sarlls hopes the rest of the snack industry will follow.