Chairman of the Board, President and 3rd Generation Owner
As the third-generation owner of Birko and a Colorado native, Kelly Green carries on the vision for food safety started by her grandparents, Ward and Florence Smith. By creating the Birko Advantage – highly trained experts offering exceptional service, the best chemistry, and the most innovative equipment – she is committed to continuing their legacy.
From inception on, Birko has been a company built on listening to customers’ needs. Kelly’s vision to combine technical services, sanitary equipment design, and innovative chemistry to meet customer challenges has resulted in a trusted food safety company, known for superior customer experiences. Based on her ability to bring all the necessary components together, customers rely on Birko to be a value-added partner. Helping customers protect their brands is key.
Prior to becoming President, Kelly earned her MBA from Colorado State University and a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Colorado. She is a former MVP for the University of Colorado’s women’s golf team and is a former Colorado Women’s First Data Corp. Open champion! If not at Birko, she can be found on the links or cycling Colorado’s 14-ers.
Kelly is active in the food safety arena and currently is a member of the United Fresh Government Relations Council. She is a former member of the North American Meat Association’s board of directors, the CSU Executive MBA Board and the Colorado Women’s Business Chamber of Commerce. She is a past board member for the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council-West and Birko is a WBENC-certified company.
In 2014, Kelly was recognized as a Woman of Influence in the Food Industry by The Griffin Report of Food Marketing. She was also named a finalist for the 2012 and 2014 Outstanding Women in Business award, sponsored by the Denver Business Journal. Under Kelly’s leadership, Birko was ranked #34 in the 2014 Top 50 Family-Owned Companies by ColoradoBiz magazine and Birko was named a 2013 Top Company winner by ColoradoBiz magazine.
Chief Executive Officer
Ensuring consumers enjoy safe, high-quality food and beverages – that’s the mission of Birko and the mission of CEO Mark Swanson. Mark, who’s led Birko since 2008, is passionate about offering innovative chemistry and equipment solutions, supported by the best in technical expertise, to help companies save lives, reduce risks and protect brands.
Food safety has been an integral part of Mark’s professional experience while working with some of the most respected institutions in the protein industry, including Iowa Beef Processors, ConAgra Foods and Swift & Company. He draws on that experience leading Birko in its mission to help food processing plants provide clean and safe fruits and vegetables, protein products and beverages.
Mark is a member of the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) board of directors and recently completed a term on the U.S. Meat Export Federation’s (USMEF) Board of Directors Executive Committee. He a member of the Produce Marketing Association, the United Fresh Produce Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
Mark is a member of the Association for Corporate Growth and is a frequent speaker at their events. He routinely presents on food safety topics to industry groups, government agencies and graduate degree programs including Colorado State University’s (CSU) College of Business and College of Agriculture Sciences.
Mark earned a bachelor’s of science in agriculture business and an executive MBA, both from Colorado State University, and is the past president of the CSU Alumni Association Board of Directors. He is a member of the CSU CIS Advisory Board and a past member of the CSU Entrepreneurs Center Board of Directors. In addition, he serves on the CSU College of Ag Sciences Dean’s Leadership Council. Go Rams!
Vice President, Sales
John leads Birko’s chemical sales division, driving strategy and performance, and oversees the company’s technical managers and technical sales representatives. Together, John and his team provide quality and sanitation solutions to help protein, further processing, produce and brew customers produce safe products.
Not only does John bring a deep understanding of the food industry, his passion for protecting the food supply is clear to Birko customers. Plus, his strong leadership results in customer solutions that truly add value at every level.
With more than 25 years of senior leadership experience, John has held positions in sales and marketing at prominent companies in protein and further processing, including JBS, Cargill, and Johnsonville Sausage. John serves on the board of the Luca John Foundation and was a member of the Colorado Beef Council’s board of directors from 2012 to 2016.
John earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and is a graduate of the MBA/MEP program at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business.
Vice President, Birko Equipment
With more than 22 years of experience in the food safety and food equipment industry, Bob Ogren knows the value of custom equipment and integrated chemistry. If our customers are satisfied with our products and the follow-on service and support, Bob is a happy man!
In 2013, Bob brought his passion for quality and superior customer service to Birko when he joined the company as Chad Equipment’s director of sales and marketing. He was promoted to VP, Birko Equipment Division in 2016, and continues to lead the division in developing, servicing and supporting new industry-leading equipment for the protein, further processing and produce markets.
Previously, Bob was the director of North and South American sales for System Cleaners A/S, a Danish-based manufacturer of automated food and beverage plant cleaning systems. He began his career in 1991 at Specialty Food Equipment (SFE), an industrial food equipment distributor in the Midwest. At SFE he served as director of foodservice operations and ultimately as company president before joining System Cleaners A/S in 2006.
Bob is a frequent participant in industry events and recently authored two industry articles: Continuous Improvement in Sanitary Design in the April 2017 issue of Food Manufacturing Magazine, and Improving Water Efficiency in the Carcass Washing Harvest Room in the May 2017 issue of The National Provisioner.
Bob earned a bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis in economics from the University of Kansas and is a big Jayhawks fan.
VP, Strategic Initiatives, HR, Administration
With a background working in global health companies and an interest in consumer safety, Diane McCoy is proud to work at Birko and play a part in ensuring the food chain is safe, secure and pathogen free. Diane joined Birko in October 2014 as director of human resources and marketing. In 2017, she became the VP, strategic initiatives, HR and administration and, in addition to human resources and administration, is responsible for guiding the company’s major strategic projects.
Prior to Birko, Diane was a senior business operations director for Inviragen, Inc., an R&D company developing vaccines for infectious diseases. In early 2013, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, a global human health company, purchased Inviragen and she became a business operations director within Takeda’s vaccine business unit. Prior to Inviragen/Takeda, she was the VP, HR and operations for Optibrand, a company that develops technology for the automatic capture of human and animal biometric data.
Diane has a master of arts degree in management from Webster University and a bachelor’s of science in business administration, with a concentration in human resource management, from Colorado State University. She is a member of the Society of Human Resource Management and has earned the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) designation. Her past certifications also include the CEBS (Certified Employee Benefits Specialist) and CCP (Certified Compensation Professional) designations.
Consultant, Former President of Chad Equipment
Having a passion for food safety and innovation, Mike Gangel has dedicated his impressive career to the meat and poultry industry. From 1986 to 2011, Mike was the owner and President of Chad Company, a well-known industry supplier that developed specialty harvesting and processing equipment. In 2011, Birko purchased Chad and Mike continued as President of the operation.
Mike is highly regarded in the industry for his forward thinking and innovations in red meat harvesting and processing. He invented the patented Chad hot water pasteurization system and pioneered the development of lactic acid mixing stations. Under his leadership at Chad, the company introduced the patented WaterSmart equipment, which reduces water usage in its carcass, head and tripe wash cabinets.
Throughout his career, Mike has been extremely involved in the food safety industry and has served on boards for the North American Meat Association (NAMA) and the North American Meat Processors (NAMP), now NAMI. He was also a member of the National Meat Association (NMA), the Southwest Meat Association (SMA), the American Meat Institute (AMI) and NAMI.
In 2017, Mike was recognized with the Industry Advancement Award from the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) for his innovation and leadership in food safety technology.
He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from St. Benedict’s College and a master’s degree in economics from Notre Dame University. On his first day at St. Benedict’s, Mike met his wife Susan and they have been very happily married for 46 years!
Mike retired from Birko in July 2016 and continues to consult on new product development and strategy for the company.
Director, Technical Services
Protein, brew, produce and further processing, Elis Owens leads Birko’s Technical Services group which supports all of these industries. His team includes the technical experts involved in research and development, quality assurance, regulatory compliance, and customer education and support.
Elis has a passion for food safety and process improvement, and sharing knowledge with customers and their employees gives him great satisfaction. A frequently sought-after presenter, he speaks often at industry and professional association meetings and has presented at PMA, BIFSCo and NAMI. He has been an instructor at the UC Davis Post Harvest Workshop and at various events of the Pacific Northwest Horticultural Council.
Active in the food safety industry, Elis serves on the PMA Science and Technology Committee, the Center for Produce Safety Technical Committee, the United Fresh Food Safety and Technology Council, the Listeria Task Force – a joint PMA/United Fresh working group, and the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Food Safety Committee. He a member of the International Association for Food Protection, the Master Brewers Association of the Americas and the American Society of Brewing Chemists.
Elis is equally active in research and has published in the peer reviewed journals FEMS Microbiology Ecology and FEMS Microbiology Letters as well as recently authoring Battling Listeria in Produce Processing in Food Quality and Safety Magazine, and Sanitary Design’s Role in Fresh Produce Processing to Prevent Listeria Contamination in Food Safety Magazine. Elis is named as a co-inventor on a number of Birko’s patent applications, including the Beefxide® and Chicxide® blends of lactic and citric acids.
Prior to joining the Birko lab team in 2005, Elis worked in the brewing industry where he held a variety of positions in quality assurance and as head brewer. Having spent seven years as a master brewer, he is acutely aware of the role brewery sanitation plays in beer quality and shelf stability. And just in case you were wondering, he’s currently enjoying porters and stouts.
Elis earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wales in Cardiff, and conducted postdoctoral research at Michigan State University’s Center for Microbial Ecology. He has a diploma in brewing science from the American Brewers Guild and is a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual.
Director, Accounting and Finance
Suzan Damron joined Birko in June 2017 as Director, Accounting and Finance.
Prior to Birko, she was the Chief Financial Officer at VIPAR Heavy Duty, Inc., and its subsidiaries, a manufacturing and distribution network. She also served as the COO of VIPAR’s manufacturing subsidiary. Prior to VIPAR, she was an Accounting Manager at Eisenmann Corporation, and an Audit Manager at a public accounting and tax firm.
Suzan has an MBA from Northern Illinois University, a B.S. in Accountancy from Illinois State, and is a certified public accountant.
Technical Director, Craft Brewing
As the Technical Director of Craft Brewing for Birko, Dana consults craft breweries, wineries and distilleries on food safety and sanitation practices. He has more than 20 years of experience serving Birko’s brew customers and is known in the industry as one of the leading voices on sanitation.
He has formulated many Birko products including the patented Xlerator, Acid Brite #2, Brute Plus, WAY-VOS, Cell-R-Mastr and invented and consigned the keg cleaning with acid and detergent only patent (Ultra Niter and X-Puma) to Birko in 2012.
A home-brewer since 1989, Dana had authored numerous articles for Zymurgy, The New Brewer and other brewery trade publications and a frequent speaker at industry events. He is a member of the Brewers Association Safety Subcommittee, (SSC) and the current President of the MBAA (Master Brewers Association of the Americas) Rocky Mountain District.
Dana joined Birko in 1979 and attended Mesa College in Grand Junction, Colo.