Published on June 30, 2021

Shenandoah Growers taps ex-Starbucks exec as new CEO

Indoor agriculture company also hires new CFO.

Rockingham County-based indoor agriculture company Shenandoah Growers Inc. has appointed former Starbucks Inc. Chief Marketing Officer Matthew Ryan as the company’s new CEO. And Mike Buckley, former senior vice president of business for Postmates, has been hired as Shenandoah Growers’ chief financial officer, the company announced Wednesday.

Former Shenandoah Growers CEO Tim Heydon, who stepped down from his post after 20 years helming the company, will continue to be “fully engaged” with Shenandoah Growers in a strategic advisory role to the company’s board of directors, according to a news release.

Prior to working for Starbucks, Ryan served as head of brand management at The Walt Disney Co. He sits on the board of Kaiser Permanente and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University. Buckley served as CFO for Nike before he was at Postmates. He received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University and also graduated from Harvard Business School’s General Management Program.

The leadership appointments follow the recent hires of lighting and plant biology expert Tessa Pocock as the company’s chief science officer and former Walmart executive Cameron Geiger as Shenandoah Growers’ chief operating officer.

“When I looked at the booming business of indoor agriculture, Shenandoah Growers stood out as the company with the strongest track record, and the best technical and biological know-how to transform its existing market-leading position into a long-term strategic advantage,” Ryan said in a statement. “My career has been shaped and defined by innovative, market-leading companies. Here, the opportunity for growth could be even greater, as Shenandoah Growers is uniquely positioned to deliver against the converging demand for affordable, high-quality and organic produce, and the need to grow it sustainably and reliably.”

Shenandoah Growers President Philip Karp said, “Matt is a proven leader and strategist with an impressive track record of building strong, competitively advantaged brands in roles at Starbucks and Disney. As Shenandoah Growers seeks to do the same in produce — scaling across many different crops, sales channels and geographies — Matt’s leadership will be invaluable.” He added that the company “is also incredibly fortunate to be retaining the deep institutional knowledge of our outgoing CEO, Tim Heydon. Tim’s vision and steady hand have guided the company’s growth for the past two decades. The strong position we hold today as both a market and technology leader are a credit to Tim, and we are so pleased that he will continue to be an integral part of our team as this journey continues.”

Founded in 1989, Shenandoah Growers provides organic herbs and leafy greens to more than 18,000 retailers nationwide. Billing itself as developing the nation’s largest indoor organic growing systems, the company specializes in indoor vertical farming using hydroponics, aeroponics and aquaponics.

Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan. Photo courtesy Shenandoah Growers.