Area business leaders set for Nov. 5 event

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The general manager of the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit – which later this year plans to expand its Santa Rosa to San Rafael commuter rail line to Larkspur – is the latest CEO to be added to the CEO Roundtable luncheon Nov. 5 in Rohnert Park.

Farhad Mansourian joins executives from the food, beverage, human resource, manufacturing and the nonprofit world at the Business Journal’s event from 11:30 to 2 p.m.

The event is underwritten by Union Bank and Vistage CEO peer groups.

“We started the CEO Roundtable three years ago because no venue existed for our region’s CEOs to provide their unique perspectives on business trends and the economy,” said Business Journal Publisher Brad Bollinger. “We are looking forward to another entertaining and high-level discussion about the business, transportation and community issues that impact all of us.”

In addition to discussion of the area’s train transit future, the conference includes a look into one of the area’s top natural food companies, Amy’s Kitchen from its president and CEO, Xavier Unkovic. Amy’s has grown into a producer of more than 250 organic and non-GMO convenience and frozen foods. It began in 1987 when new parents Andy and Rachel Berliner began their quest for natural foods for their newborn daughter.

Unkovic joined the company in May 2017, after a 25-year career with food and beverage company Mars.

Giving the panel a manufacturing focus will be Jim Happ, president of Labcon, producer of disposable laboratory equipment. Workers at the 125,000-square-foot facility Petaluma facility produce 6 million parts daily for laboratories in hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and research facilities globally.

In August, he told the Business Journal that a $40 million investment in robotics at the facility over the past 15 years has increased the number of units produced each day by 1 million.

“It used to be (our workers) were afraid of robots,” Happ said. “And now the employees are like, ‘We need a robot over here to make this thing go faster.’”

From a simple stall to partnering with a mega coffee seller, Sean Lovett will discuss the rise of Revive Kombucha, which he co-founded with his, Rebekah in 2010. The brewed drink was first offered to customers in a farmer’s market in 2010. In December, Peet’s acquired a majority stake in the firm.

An executive with a long history in Marin County joins the panel as well. Patricia “Patty” Garbarino is president of Marin Sanitary Service, Marin Recycling Center and Marin Resource Recovery Center, as well as the first woman president of the California Refuse Recycling Council.

Marin Sanitary Service began in 1948 when several families moved north from San Francisco to Marin to start a new garbage service.

Getting the best from employees will be among the topics of the conference through the experiences of Brenda Gilchrist, co-founder and managing partner of The HR Matrix, Inc. Also a founding faculty member/professor of Sonoma State University’s Executive MBA program, Gilchrist is a certified as a senior professional in Human Resources and has held positions at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Sutter Health.

Helping the community by helping those with disabilities live complete lives is part of the daily mission of conference speaker and Luana Vaetoe, CEO of Santa Rosa-based Becoming Independent. Taking over in 2013 after serving as agency director, Vaetoe have overseen growth of the nonprofit’s program for young adults with autism and expansion of programs to offer job training (BI now operates two food service businesses). It recently announced plans to expand its programs in the Marin County.

CEO Roundtable Luncheon will take place Tuesday, Nov. 5 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel in Rohnert Park.

The Business Journal event is underwritten by Union Bank and Vistage with major sponsors, Moss Adams, Star Staffing and Western Health Advantage.

Tickets are $90 per person, $750 for a table of 10. Register at

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