Eric Lofquist, President & CEO

Magnus International Group

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For three decades, Eric has been an accomplished entrepreneur with significant experience in natural products manufacturing, renewable energies and traditional fuels.

He founded Magnus International Group in 2007, an award-winning developer and manufacturer of one-of-a-kind products ranging from natural animal feed ingredients, and natural industrial and consumer waxes for a variety of applications to customized fatty acids, biodiesel fuel feedstocks and other specialty chemicals.

Prior to Magnus, Eric held various leadership and consulting roles in strategic planning, business development, product development and marketing for businesses including the Phillips Services Corporation, Ashland Chemical, Ensco, American NuKem and REI. He also owned Industrial By-Products Trading, a firm that made and blended high-carbon products for industrial purposes.

Magnus has received nearly 20 major honors for innovation and growth, including Eric’s 2012 win of Ernst & Young’s National and Northeast Ohio Entrepreneur Of The Year™ awards for distribution and manufacturing. He was a judge for the 2013 Northeast Ohio EOY competition and a judge for national EOY events from 2014 through 2016. In 2015, Eric chaired the national Entrepreneur Of The Year judging panel for the distribution and manufacturing category.

He is a guest columnist for Smart Business magazine, a national chain of journals for C-level executives. Eric was also acting president of the Maingate Business Development Corporation in Cleveland and a member of the Cuyahoga County Blue Ribbon Taskforce. He graduated from Clarion State College with a Bachelor of Science degree in business.

Sharon Stefan, Corporate Controller
Magnus International Group

mig_sharon new bio photo_cropSharon is an accounting professional whose career has spanned both public accounting and closely held companies. She has significant experience in GAAP, corporate taxes, management reporting and financial statements. Sharon brings to Magnus her exceptional analytical skills, attention to detail and in-depth knowledge of numbers.

She manages the company’s financial system and helped to create standard accounting procedures for Magnus and its production companies. Sharon oversees our staffing accounting, HR, client support and logistics functions, and works with our leadership team on top-level cost analysis. She also coordinates all work with Magnus’ outside accounting firm.

Sharon prepares monthly, quarterly and annual financial statements and analyses, manages cash flow, handles financial forecasting and budgeting, and takes on other accounting and tax functions for our fast-track enterprise.

She has an MBA in accounting and a Bachelor of Science in business accounting. 

Brian Desantis, Director of Sales
Magnus International Group

mig_brian bio photo edited_croppedBrian is a biochemist who brings to Magnus nearly 20 years of business, product and process development accomplishments in the agribusiness, oleochemical and specialty chemical industries. He was previously engaged in leadership positions with organizations such as Peter Cremer North America and Unilever.

Brian’s areas of expertise include new market and supply chain development, new product introduction, co-product and biodiesel material placement, and facility startups. Brian has an extensive background in technical sales consulting and management, and is also a regulatory compliance specialist.

At Magnus, he focuses on the procurement of sustainable raw materials and on industrial product sales, including natural wax, customized fatty acids, glycerin and biodiesel fuel feedstocks.

Brian works closely with our on-site, high-tech laboratory, and production and engineering teams to develop new manufacturing technologies and plant-wide process improvements.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from the University of Cincinnati and has two years of study toward his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Brett Ayers, Product Manager
Magnus International Group

mig_brett new bio photo_cropBrett began with Hardy Industrial Technologies in utility operations in August 2013, shortly after earning a 4.0 GPA and Master of International Affairs degree from Texas A&M University. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Denison University, from which he graduated magna cum laude. In addition, Brett is a National Merit® scholar who has received a host of impressive academic awards and scholarships, including membership in the exclusive Phi Beta Kappa honor society.

Quickly becoming proficient in Hardy’s production of innovative oleochemicals from food industry co-products, Brett was promoted to shift supervisor in March 2014. He advanced to Magnus’ product manager, a corporate office position in Chagrin Falls, in November 2014.

In this role, he will apply his plant experience and exceptional problem-solving ability, communication skills and service attitude to source and procure raw materials such as vegetable oils and cooking greases used in our award-winning natural products manufacturing.

Gregg Rechner, Vice President of Technical Affairs
Hardy Industrial Technologies

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Gregg has worked with Magnus owners Eric Lofquist and Scott Forster since 2001 as a key leader on several environmental management and recycling service enterprises. Prior to his current role, he was the lab manager for our exclusive production facility, which operates as Hardy Industrial Technologies and Hardy Animal Nutrition.

Gregg brings to his plant position more than 20 years of chemical engineering experience in natural products development and manufacturing. His areas of expertise include new product formulation, regulatory compliance, animal feed quality assurance, production analysis and troubleshooting, lab experimentation and management, inbound and outbound raw materials testing, and staff supervision and development.

Gregg was instrumental in the company’s ISO 22000:2005 and PAS 222 certifications and helps ensure we maintain food and feed safety management systems and standards for manufacturing high-quality liquid and dry animal feed ingredients. He takes a comprehensive approach to advising both our corporate office and plant on the best methods for on-spec processes and products.

Gregg was an integral part of the construction of our original and new, one-of-a-kind prill tower, which manufactures solid, natural animal feed ingredients from domestic and tropical vegetable oils, cooking greases, animal fats and other renewable raw materials. Additionally, he’s been critical to the design of our new, state-of-the-art lab, which comes online in the fall of 2015.

Gregg holds a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Ohio University and is trained in Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting.

Nick Pudder, Production Manager
Hardy Industrial Technologies

mig_nick new bio photo_cropNick launched his career at Magnus’ Hardy Industrial Technologies in the summer of 2014 as a utility floater, primarily for our hydrogenation system. Gaining diverse experience plant-wide, he quickly established himself as a leader and critical thinker with complex problem-solving ability and great communication skills. Three months later, Nick was promoted to shift supervisor.

In his current role, he helps oversee total plant operations and is responsible for production, employee training and development, quality control, safety and compliance. Nick is enthusiastic about the record-setting pounds of material that Hardy is producing and about fine-tuning our processes to maximize the capabilities of our facility.

Outside his full-time position at the plant, he is a paid volunteer EMT-firefighter for the Northwest Ambulance District. Nick also worked in the ER at TriPoint Medical Center in Concord Township and as an EMT-firefighter for the City of Geneva, Ohio. Before these positions, he was a professional plumber in Virginia.

Nick holds an OSHA Safety Training certification. In addition to his Firefighter-EMS certification, he completed his National Incident Management System (NIMS) training through FEMA. Nick’s had nuclear radiation training, too, and is certified in CPR and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS).

Ray Richards, Shift Supervisor
Hardy Industrial Technologies

mig_ray new bio photo_cropRay came to Magnus in January 2015 with more than 20 years of notable experience as a production supervisor, and machine and setup operator. He gained these successes during a two-decade career at Swagelok, a $1.8B global developer and provider of reliable, high-quality fluid system solutions. Ray also worked in operations in the distribution center at Lincoln Electric, a worldwide leader in welding products.

Ray’s management areas of expertise include staff supervision and scheduling, employee training and development, production performance, quality control, safety, compliance and delivery logistics. He is also very proficient in scrap reduction, process improvements, manufacturing efficiencies and equipment reliability.

Ray’s technical specialties include Lean manufacturing strategies and Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP II). He is well versed in the setup, operation, troubleshooting and maintenance of conventional machines, and the operation of lift trucks and towmotors. Ray is trained in hazardous materials and fire safety, and is also a first aid responder with CPR and bloodborne pathogens certifications.

At Hardy Industrial Technologies, Ray leads our night shift’s significant contributions to record-breaking volumes of raw materials refining, and exclusive natural products development and manufacturing.

Dave Wolf, Shift Supervisor
Hardy Industrial Technologies

mig_dwolf new bio photo_cropDave has been an influential leader of our plant’s chemical lab team since 2011. He joined Hardy Industrial Technologies as a technician responsible for sampling inbound raw materials, testing mid-process products and quality-checking finished natural goods such as industrial and consumer waxes, and liquid animal feed ingredients.

Dave quickly advanced to senior lab technician in 2012, taking on the additional roles of training and delivery logistics for the plant’s refining of co-products such as vegetable oils, cooking greases and animal fats into renewable materials. He was also charged with testing our water effluents for EPA compliance.

Prior to Hardy, Dave gained significant experience at companies including The Lubrizol Corporation in staff management, business development, testing and quality control, training, Lean manufacturing, R&D and marketing.

He holds an Associate of Science degree in chemistry and is certified by the DOT in hazardous materials management and hazmat training. Dave is also a member of the Sandler Sales Institute President’s Club.

Randy Lewis, Production Manager
Hardy Industrial Technologies

mig_randy new bio photo edited_cropSince Randy began his career with the Magnus companies in 2008, he has accelerated through various plant utility and operations positions, ultimately leading to his current management role in training and safety. The depth of his experience with Hardy Industrial Technologies’ proprietary distillation and hydrogenation systems primes him for creating critical staff development processes and tools.

Highly skilled as a troubleshooter, problem-solver and critical-thinker, Randy is participating in the Wells Fargo online safety training and recordkeeping program. He onboards new utility employees in our fast-growth business and orients them to their positions and to the inner-workings of our state-of-the-art production facility. His day typically begins with a safety debriefing with our production staff, and every week he trains the team on a new safety topic.

Randy is also responsible for creating and maintaining employee and contractor safety manuals, and preparing our operation for safety audits. The plant has had no recordable safety incidents since late 2012. This is an impressive accomplishment for the manufacturing industry.

Prior to Magnus, Randy rebuilt screw machines for Screw Machine Services for clients including Autocam. He also served in the U.S. Army Reserves for eight years as a military police officer. Randy was deployed to Iraq for a year, where he trained staff and conducted joint combat operations with the Iraqi police. Additionally, he was a certified combat lifesaver and team leader.