Managing Director, SDA Ventures LLC
Mr. Gillison is currently a Managing Director of SDA Ventures LLC, a firm focused on assisting emerging growth, middle-market and multi-national companies, primarily in the health & wellness, nutritional products and food service markets, on matters including corporate development, business acquisition, customer relationships, growth strategies, technology licensing and corporate finance. He is also a member of the Managing Board of Brassica Protection Products LLC. Brassica is a nutritional ingredient company that markets and sells truebroc™ brand broccoli seed extract containing glucoraphanin, a phytochemical naturally found in broccoli.
From January 2006 until May 2012 Mr. Gillison served as the Vice President of Corporate Development for Martek Biosciences Corporation (NASDAQ: MATK), a leader in the innovation, development, production and sale of high-value products from microbial sources that promote health and wellness through nutrition. The Company’s technology platform consisted of its core expertise, broad experience and proprietary technology in areas such as microbial biology, algal genomics, fermentation and downstream processing. This technology platform resulted in Martek’s development of a number of products, including the company’s flagship product, life’s DHA, a sustainable and vegetarian source of algal DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) important for brain, heart and eye health throughout life for use in infant formula, pregnancy and nursing products, foods and beverages, dietary supplements and animal feeds.
Mr. Gillison played a key role in transitioning Martek’s business from an R & D company to a fully integrated, profitable, commercial organization with over $470 million in annual sales. During Mr. Gillison’s tenure with Martek, annual revenues rose from $270 million to over $470 million; gross margins increased from 36% to over 53%; annual pretax income grew from $24 million to $91 million and annual cash flow from operations went from $36 million to $146 million. Mr. Gillison had primary responsibility for the corporate development operations at Martek, which included the successful negotiation of a number of sole source license and supply agreements with industry leaders such as Coca-Cola, General Mills and WhiteWave for the inclusion of life’s DHA in functional foods and beverages in such iconic brands as Minute Maid, Yoplait and Horizon Organic. Mr. Gillison lead the technology licensing efforts at Martek that sought to leverage Martek’s microbiology skill sets to use microbes to grow new bioactive nutritional ingredients, resulting in joint development agreements with both industry and universities. Other accomplishments include Martek’s 2010 acquisition of Amerfit Brands, Inc., a developer, marketer and distributor of branded consumer health and wellness products focused on women’s and digestive health benefits with annual revenues of approximately $100 million; and his involvement in the sale of Martek to Royal DSM N.V. in 2011 for close to $1.1 billion.
Prior to joining Martek, Mr. Gillison was the Senior Vice President and Treasurer for U.S. Foodservice (1997-2006). In this position Mr. Gillison raised more than $3 billion in capital in the form of syndicated bank loans, asset securitizations, equipment leasing and equity offerings to support the growth and acquisition activity at the company. Upon the sale of U.S. Foodservice to Royal Ahold, N.V. , Mr. Gillison added mergers and acquisitions to his responsibilities and led five transactions on both the buy-side and sell-side covering $7 billion in revenues and $2.5 billion in acquisition proceeds. His responsibilities also included investor relations, treasury management, asset management for pensions and 401-k plans and fuel hedging programs. Mr. Gillison started his career with NationsBank (1986-1997), the predecessor to Bank of America, where he held a number of positions ultimately becoming Senior Vice President and Client Manager for the Mid-Atlantic Corporate Bank with responsibility for the bank’s Fortune 1000 relationships throughout the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area.