New leaders appointed at Stella & Chewy’s

Coccari to serve as CEO

The former Stella & Chewy's factory in Milwaukee. The company moved to Oak Creek in July

Gregg Coccari has been appointed chief executive officer of Oak Creek-based pet food manufacturer Stella & Chewy’s LLC.

The former Stella & Chewy's factory in Milwaukee. The company moved to Oak Creek in July
The former Stella & Chewy’s factory in Milwaukee. The company moved to Oak Creek in July

Coccari replaces Jen Guzman, who has left the company to pursue other opportunities, said spokesman Lee Hessenthaler. Her LinkedIn profile now lists Guzman as founder and CEO of JJ Nutrition. Guzman worked in investment banking and then spent 12 years in the private equity industry before joining Stella & Chewy’s as CEO in 2011.

Coccari, who came on board in late November, has more than 30 years of leadership experience, having previously served as CEO of Futuredontics, Netquote and Teleflora. He specializes in consumer and business-to-business marketing, technology and sales.

The company also today named Mark Sapir as its first ever chief marketing officer. Sapir most recently served as vice president of marketing and innovation at Merrick Pet Care, and also has held senior marketing positions at TOPPS, Atkins Nutritionals and Kraft Foods.

Stella & Chewy’s, which has about 200 employees, manufactures premium raw freeze-dried and raw frozen food for dogs and cats at its 164,000-square-foot facility in Oak Creek. The company has been gradually moving into its newly constructed Oak Creek facility, which quadrupled its production capacity. It still has about 10 percent of its equipment at its former location, 2842 S. Fifth Court in Milwaukee, Hessenthaler said.

In July, the company voluntarily recalled some of its products after one of its products tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

“(The leadership change) was not at all related to the recall; we just wanted to continue the fast growth we have and see if we can accelerate it even more,” Hessenthaler said. “We’ve had phenomenal success the past few years—we think we’re just getting started.”

Stella & Chewy’s expected more than $50 million in sales in 2015, and is considered southeastern Wisconsin’s fastest-growing company.

“Gregg and Mark are proven leaders, both with a wide breadth of experience and impressive track records of successfully growing businesses,” said Marie Moody, founder and chairwoman of Stella & Chewy’s. “Their in-depth marketing, sales and product development experience will help Stella & Chewy’s build on its leadership position in the premium pet food market.

“Together with Gregg and Mark’s leadership, Stella & Chewy’s will continue to invest in the business, focusing on its products in order to contribute to the health and happiness of dogs and cats everywhere.”

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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