OUR MANAGEMENT TEAM
Our commitment to producing the highest grade of sports nutrition and energy products starts with our incredible management team. Our
executives maximize potential through their high standard of excellence, innovation, passion, and empathetic leadership.
John C. DiDonatoInterim CEO & CTO
John DiDonato is the Interim Chief Executive Officer and Chief Transformation Officer of Vital Pharmaceuticals/Bang Energy.
John joined Vital Pharmaceuticals/Bang Energy in 2022 and has more than 35 years of experience leading companies through complex financial and operational transformations. He has extensive experience in servicing companies with complex capital situations, with expertise in a wide range of industries.
Under John’s leadership, Huron’s business advisory experts and transformative client work have been recognized multiple times by the Turnaround Management Association. Prior to joining Huron, John was the president of Glass & Associates. He has also held a variety of management consulting roles at PwC.
Eugene BukoviChief Operating Officer
Eugene Bukovi is the Chief Operating Officer at Bang Energy.
“Gene” joined Bang Energy in 2009 as beverage sales director and has since progressed in senior sales roles with increasing responsibility, leading global sales for the over $6 billion company. With over two decades of executive experience in all aspects of manufacturing management operations --from high volume to custom job shop environments in privately owned companies and Fortune 500 firms -- Gene has instrumentally transformed organizations for optimum functionality and impact.
Aside from his numerous professional accolades, Gene and founder Jack Owoc have had an over 30-year-long relationship. Starting off as novice young men in their careers, Gene has played a uniquely important role in helping create the Bang Energy machine that we know today as a powerhouse in the beverage industry.
David WisdomVP of Sports Nutrition
David Wisdom is the Bang Energy Vice President of Sports Nutrition.
After rejoining the company in 2021, David has since played a vital role in helping Bang Energy re-establish its international and domestic sports nutrition business while building a strong distributor network across numerous international markets including South Korea, Brazil, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as with several other U.S. based distributors.
With more than two decades of sales experience in retail and the nutrition and fitness industry, his strong leadership and relationship-building skills led to securing the company’s first $20 million long-term international private label contract in Brazil. During his previous tenure from 2009-2014, Wisdom expanded the company’s distribution from 47 to 84 countries.
Wisdom holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from the Florida Institute of Technology, and continually works to share his passion for - and educate others about - the importance of health and fitness. In his free time, he serves as an assistant wrestling coach at American Heritage School in Plantation, Florida.
Esther PolancoDirector Operational Excellence
Esther Polanco is the Bang Energy Operational Excellence and Continuous Improvement Officer. A distinguished leader who drives global corporate strategies through to success with a specialization in dynamic communications, process engineering and digital transformation.
Merging her extensive experience across various industries (Technology, Manufacturing and Telecommunication), Esther has been instrumental in driving the successful implementation and adoption of innovate business solutions across our operation. In addition to introducing and successfully leading the implementation of a Training & Development and an Employee Performance Management framework – Esther designed and let the implementation of our first Center of Excellence structure to introduce Program Management, and Process Engineering capabilities to the organization.
A recipient of the 2021 Leadership Award, she is a champion for innovation and culture transformation.
Hal GersonVP of Global Supply Chain
Hal Gerson is the VP of Global Supply Chain at Bang Energy. As an experienced leader in analyzing commodities and supply chain mechanics, developing pricing formulations, and building supplier relationships, he has a long career of strengthening and streamlining relationships between the supply chain and customer base, creating extreme value for organizations such as Burger King / Restaurant Services Inc., Subway / Independent Purchasing Cooperative, and Performance Food Group (PFG).
Results-oriented, with proven success in complex contract negotiations, category development, and project management, Hal is committed to creating efficient supply chain processes that are cost-avoidant, yet expansive for long term product distribution.
Proficient at multi-tasking with strong analytical, organizational, and communication skills, Hal has led corporate animal welfare initiatives, as well as championed margin improvement and disaster recovery programming.
Liangxi LiVP of Product Development
Dr. Liangxi Li is the Bang Energy VP of Product Development. Dr. Li has provided scientific guidance to the company for over a decade.
With a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry and 20 years as a scientist in the industry, Dr. Li plays an instrumental role in Bang Energy product development, research, efficacy, and testing to help fuel ongoing innovation and growth.
Prior to joining Bang, Dr. Li worked at Shanghai ECA and Texas Tech University's Health Sciences Center. He holds both a master's degree and Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Lanzhou and Fudan Universities in China. Alongside Jack Owoc, Dr. Li is a major contributor when it comes to many of our most exciting Bang Energy flavors and the continued release of new additions.
Lourdes BarskyVP Employee Services
Lourdes Barsky is the Bang Energy VP of Employee Services.
As a strong human resource professional with 26 years of experience, Lourdes holds solid experience in human resources and administrative management, with a robust amount of knowledge in all things employee relations and organization planning. Having spent over a decade with Gold Coast Beverage, she is well-versed in the intricate organizational functions of beverage industry processes.
Not only has she elevated the employee experience for thousands of individuals but Lourdes can also be credited with improving the overall workforce development across various industries throughout her career. Leading as an effective motivator and contributor to the strength and growth of many employee organizational departments, Lourdes has provided businesses with strong culture governance, structure, and strategy for financial and cultural success.
Carlos Gutiérrez de PiñeresSenior Creative Director
As the Senior Creative Director for Bang Energy, Carlos Gutiérrez de Piñeres is responsible for overseeing the development of the brand's design system. This includes working with a team of designers to create a cohesive look for the brand across all consumer touch points. This can include anything from packaging retail to eCommerce and email marketing.
As a creative strategist with over 10 years of experience in retail merchandising, design, trade shows/events, manufacturing, and store operations, Carlos adds creative value to organizations by appropriately forecasting trends, results, and solutions effectively in aesthetic and various organizational channels with ease.
Carlos’ role is key in shaping the brand's identity and image. This means that he is able to think strategically and holistically about the brand, and have a deep understanding of the consumer. As the creative director, he is a key leader within the organization, and his vision and expertise are essential to the success of the brand.
Having a varied experience in projects, ranging from visual merchandising to product development, with companies such as Whole Foods, Amazon, Google and Microsoft, Carlos not only ensures consistency in brand storytelling, visual and voice delivery, and marketing for organizational brand success alongside various cross-functional stakeholder, but also uses his business acumen to make critical decisions with design decisions that are not only aesthetic but also functional and effective.
As a creative leader who is responsible for creating new ideas and concepts to help the organization grow, he enjoys positively influencing others in unique ways, he works to create effective results-oriented solutions while uplifting and encouraging those around him. He is someone who has business acumen because his decisions have a significant impact on the company's bottom line. For example, to create a balance between choices that are more expensive but will result in a higher quality product, or, a less expensive manufacturing process that will save the company money but might result in a lower quality product.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Our board of directors is a chosen body of shareholders committed to our brand mission and overall values. Our organization aims to provide
excellence in production, innovation, community engagement, sustainability, and integrity— their support is unparalleled.
Bob DickinsonBoard of Director
Bob Dickinson has held positions on the finance staff of Ford Motor Company and the corporate planning office of RCA before joining Carnival Cruise Lines as executive vice president in 1972. He was promoted to president in 1993 and retired as President & CEO in 2007.
Dickinson is a former chairman of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the Travel Industry Association of America, and the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority. He is the co-author of Selling the Sea: An Inside Look at the Cruise Industry (first and second editions), and The Complete 21st Century Travel and Hospitality Marketing Handbook.
During his career, Dickinson received Travel Weekly's Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the travel industry and was named "Travel Executive of the Year" by Travel Trade magazine twice. He was named one of the 100 Best Marketers in the Nation by Advertising Age magazine.
He received his BSBA in management from John Carroll University and his MBA from Duquesne University. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration Degree from Johnson & Wales University in 1995, an Honorary Doctor of Science from Maine Maritime Academy in 2006, and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from John Carroll University in 2009.
Dickinson is Chairman Emeritus of Camillus House - the largest service provider for the homeless in South Florida. He is a member of the St. Thomas University Board of Trustees.
His hobbies include chess, tennis, wine appreciation, and fine dining. He is the past president of The Society of Bacchus and a lifetime member of the International Wine and Food Society.
Eric HillmanFormer CEO, Europa Sports Products
Eric Hillman is co-founder and former CEO of Europa Sports, the world's leading distributor of nutritional and sports supplements, sports drinks, and accessories representing more than 300 of the industry's best brands.
With a passion for fitness, Mr. Hillman partnered in his first gym in 1985 in Winston-Salem, NC, later opening Powerhouse Gym and is the current owner of Linny Mac's Powerhouse Gym. Since starting Europa Sports nearly 32 years ago, Hillman has received multiple "Entrepreneur of the Year" nominations and honors. His "leadership and entrepreneurial vision have culminated in numerous organizational growth and employee satisfaction" awards, including back-to-back recognition as one of the “Best Places to Work.”
Outside of his professional accomplishments, he serves on the National Physique Committee and is an IFBB Professional Judge. He is a global advisory member for The International Sports Hall of Fame, which honors the world's greatest athletic legends across all sports. He has also served as director for the USA Rugby Trust, the philanthropic arm of USA Rugby, and from 2015 to 2019, was head size coach within the strength and conditioning department of the Appalachian State University football program, winning 4 consecutive bowl game appearances.
Steven G. PanagosIndependent Director
Steven Panagos is a widely recognized turnaround expert with a long and distinguished career of leading companies through complex financial and operational restructurings and reorganizations for large multinational to middle-market companies and their creditors across various industries.
Steven specializes in serving as an independent director in companies undergoing significant changes to their operations and capital structures. He has extensive experience leading special committees on behalf of boards as they examine value-maximizing opportunities in financially distressed situations as well as companies that have completed a restructuring and are evaluating their next set of options.
Steven has extensive investment banking experience and CEO and CRO management experience. Steven has personally turned around several financially troubled companies and restructured more than $100 billion worth of liabilities across more than 100 transactions. In addition, Steven has provided expert testimony regarding valuation and restructuring matters.
As an independent director, Steven has led numerous special committees empowered to run, structure, evaluate, and transact M&A processes, refinancing, recapitalizations, and special investigations both in and out of court.
Stephen S. GrayBoard of Director
Stephen Gray has more than 40 years of experience developing and implementing restructuring and crisis management plans for public and private companies and judicial bodies.
Gray was the founder and CEO of The Recovery Group, Inc. (TRG) from 1981-2007. In 2007, TRG merged with Corporate Revitalization Partners (CRP) to form CRG Partners (CRG), where Gray served as Senior Managing Partner. As Deloitte acquired CRG in 2012, Stephen was the leader of Deloitte’s Fiduciary Services Practice until he resigned in 2014 to form Gray & Company LLC, a practice specializing in restructuring and fiduciary services to clients and courts.
Stephen Gray has led the successful operational and financial restructuring of hundreds of companies serving as CEO, CRO, trustee, receiver, and restructuring advisor. He is well known in the financial and legal communities throughout the U.S. for his work as a fiduciary.
He has served as a chapter 11 trustee, state or federal receiver, examiner in bankruptcy, post-confirmation trustee, Subchapter V and chapter 7 trustee, and future claims representative. Gray regularly serves as an independent member of the board of directors of companies pre, during, or after a restructuring process. These matters include a sizable online furniture retailer; Liberty Power Holdings, LLC, an energy provider; URS Holdings, LLC, a financial services company; and Datacon, Inc., a military electronics manufacturer. During the last seven years, Gray has served as an independent director for other companies in restructuring processes in the healthcare, retail, machine tool manufacturing, consumer products distribution, diagnostics laboratory services, food processing, energy, security, auto rental, and automotive supply industries.
Before forming TRG, Stephen was president of Gray and Company, a turnaround and workout consulting firm. He also served as vice president for Exeter Management Corp., a firm specializing in consulting for distressed businesses. As a member of the Corporate Development Staff at Arthur D. Little, Inc., Gray is a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy, a member of the International Insolvency Institute and American Bankruptcy Institute. He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering science from George Washington University and was a master’s level teaching fellow in mechanical engineering at Tufts University.
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