CEO & Co-founder
Scott Ford, Co-founder of Westrock Coffee Company, serves as Chief Executive Officer. When Scott started Westrock Coffee, the goal was to give back in a way that led to economic change in the lives of the people of Rwanda.
Evidence ten years later is a vertically integrated coffee company that impacts over one million members of smallholder farming households in more than 20 different coffee growing countries worldwide. Prior to co-founding Westrock, Scott served as President and CEO of Alltel Corporation.
Scott began his professional career as an investment banker and subsequently served as the Assistant to the Chairman at Stephens Group where his work involved traditional investment banking services, equity portfolio management, venture capital investing, and acquisitions in the media industry. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of AT&T Inc.
Co-founder & Chairman
Joe Ford co-founded Westrock Coffee Company with his son, Scott, with the goal of creating a positive impact in the lives of people throughout the coffee supply chain and providing the very best customer service. Joe has played a key role in the development of Westrock as a vertically integrated coffee company that now supports over one million members of smallholder farming households.
Joe also serves as Chairman of Westrock Group, LLC. He began his career in telecommunications at Allied Telephone Company in Little Rock, becoming Allied’s President in 1977 and subsequently the Chairman of Alltel Corporation - a provider of wireless voice and data communications services. Joe serves on the Board of Directors of Westrock Coffee Company and Westrock Asset Management. He previously served on the Board of Directors for the Dial Corporation, Duke Energy Company, Eltek, ASA, Beverly Enterprises Company, En Pro Industries, Textron Inc., and the United States Chamber of Commerce.
Chief Financial Officer
Chris Pledger serves as Chief Financial Officer at Westrock Coffee Company, overseeing all finance, accounting, tax, and corporate development functions for the company worldwide. He also leads the global expansion of the company’s trading and export operations.
Prior to joining Westrock Coffee in 2013, Chris served as the company’s outside legal counsel as a partner at Kutak Rock LLP. He has also served as a legal, international business, and finance executive at Hunt Oil Company. Chris began his career as a corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions attorney at Thompson & Knight LLP and Vinson & Elkins LLP. Chris serves on the Board of Directors of Falcon Coffees Limited and Rwanda Trading Company.
Group President - Operations
Will Ford serves as Group President of Operations at Westrock Coffee Company. Since starting with the company in 2016, Will has worked in several of Westrock Coffee's entities around the world focusing on multiple aspects of the coffee trade. Currently, Will oversees global production, operations, and distribution logistics for Westrock Coffee where he is responsible for over one million square feet of operational space across eight facilities. In 2021, Will oversaw the construction of Westrock Coffee’s first international manufacturing facility in Johor Bahru, Malaysia and is currently responsible for the construction of the nation’s largest roasting to ready-to-drink facility. Among Will’s core skills are reviewing and improving efficiencies in order to help the company deliver complex beverage solutions at a global scale in multiple formats.
Will earned a master's degree in Coffee Economics and Science from Illy Universtatá del Caffé in Trieste, Italy. He received his B.A. in Communications from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Will serves on the boards of the National Coffee Association (NCA) and the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce.
Executive Vice President - Sales
Elizabeth currently serves as the Executive Vice President of Sales for Westrock Coffee Company where she oversees the development of new product portfolios and relationships for the largest retail chains in the world. Over the last several years, Elizabeth served as Westrock Coffee’s Group President of Sales, Marketing, and Client Services. Elizabeth was instrumental in building the company’s retail and private label manufacturing business, as well as leading the company’s sustainability initiatives, product development, and quality assurance programs.
Prior to joining Westrock Coffee, Elizabeth owned and served as Chief Operating Officer of SIR Research, a consumer marketing research firm in Richmond, Virginia. She previously worked as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at PBM Products, a private label consumer products company. She began her career in 1996 at Alltel Corporation.
Chief Legal Officer
Prior to joining Westrock Coffee, Bob served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary for Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises, Inc. He has held senior leadership legal and human resources roles at several publicly-held, multi-national manufacturing companies, and has a broad range of corporate, securities, commercial and transactional experience. Bob helped to build the legal functions for the successful spin-off of two publicly-held companies. Prior to moving to an in-house legal role, Bob was an associate at Smith,Helms, Mulliss & Moore. He earned his law degree at Vanderbilt University and an MBA at Queens University.
C.J. Duvall Jr.
Executive Vice President - Human Resources
C.J. Duvall, Jr. serves as the Executive Vice President of Human Resources for Westrock Coffee Company. C.J. has long been associated with serving community efforts across a wide spectrum of interests, from local community gardening in support of teaching students in the field of biological sciences to creating scholarship endowments to prepare students to be teachers, scientists, business leaders, and humanitarian leaders all with a focus of giving back to their community.
Prior to joining Westrock Coffee, he served as a human capital business consultant to CEOs in different industries. C.J.'s corporate background includes more than 25-years human resource management for companies such as software services company, Systematics, Inc., Alltel Information Services, Inc., and Alltel Corporation.
Chief Information Officer
Eric Chin serves as the Chief Information Officer of Westrock Coffee Company. Eric oversees the information technology needs and helps to enable the business to effectively and proactively serve customers through the use of technology. Eric started his career in operations and logistics and has previously worked in the food and grocery, beverage distribution, sporting goods, and retail industries.
Eric has held various roles throughout his career including Chief Operating Officer at Mack’s Prairie Wings, Division Vice President at McLane Company, and State Operations Director at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. Eric earned a master’s degree in Leadership from Baker College and received his BBA from Harding University in Searcy, AR.
Executive Vice President - Global Supply Chain & Sustainability
Matt Smith serves as an Executive Vice President of Supply Chain & Sustainability at Westrock Coffee Company where he focuses on the areas of sustainability and commodity procurement and quality assurance. In this role he has responsibility for delivering on our goal of 100% responsibly sourced coffee and tea by 2025, while continuing to feed our facilities based in the U.S. and Malaysia with ~150m pounds of green coffee and ~25m pounds of tea annually.
Prior to returning to work in our U.S. operations, Matt was the President and CEO of Westrock East Africa, Chief Operating Officer of Falcon Coffees Limited. He began is time within the Westrock Coffee family as the General Manager of Rwanda Trading Company where he oversaw its growth from a start-up coffee exporter to a respected national player that is responsible for an incremental $100 million earned by the farmers of Rwanda.
Executive Vice President - Global Insights & Customer Engagement
Sam Ford serves as Executive Vice President of Business Analytics and Client Services at Westrock Coffee. In this role, he is responsible for leading teams across pricing, corporate marketing, business processes, service and equipment, and customer engagement. Sam has worked for Westrock Coffee since 2014 in many different capacities.
Prior to Westrock Coffee, Sam worked at Circumference Group, a privately held investment and technology firm. Sam received a bachelor of finance from Pepperdine University and studied Mandarin in Shanghai, China.
Executive Vice President - Global Sales & Innovation
Kyle Newkirk serves as Executive Vice President of Global Innovation, Marketing, and Sales, overseeing Westrock's customer-focused insights to new products pipeline, sales to consumer-packaged goods customers, and international business development.
Prior to joining Westrock Coffee in 2012, Kyle held leadership roles in innovation, global supply chain, and sustainability at several Fortune 500 consumer packaged goods companies including The Hershey Company, General Mills, Sara Lee, and Tyson Foods. He also served as a career Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development with postings in Washington D.C., Kabul, and Bangkok where he managed post-conflict and post-disaster reconstruction projects.
Executive Vice President – Business Process
Scott Searls serves as Executive Vice President, Business Process. Scott is passionate about customer and operational excellence and is a three-time recipient of the prestigious Institute For Supply Management’s Award for Excellence.
Prior to joining Westrock, Scott held executive leadership roles in the telecom industry across a range of operations and business development accountabilities. He began his career in Bell Laboratories, holds several patents, and serves as an advisor to companies in both the wireless and outdoor products industry. He is an accomplished Alpinist, competitive skier and BASE jumper.
Executive Vice President - Technical Services
Shay Zohar serves as Executive Vice President for Technical Services at Westrock Coffee. Shay has over 18 years of executive management leading turnaround and high-growth environments, driving business initiatives for major corporations with a deep passion for strategy and innovation.
Prior to joining Westrock Coffee, Shay worked for Barrie House Coffee as Director of Sales and Marketing, as well as leading R&D, and eventually serving as Chief Operating Officer driving the Automation and introduction of new formats. He has also served as Chief Executive Officer at Packline USA, one of the leading Packaging and Automation companies in the USA.
Executive Vice President - Manufacturing
Nicolas is responsible for the manufacture of all products distributed from Westrock Coffee’s global enterprise to its blue-chip customers. Lorenz joined the company from PACCOR Packaging Solutions, based in Düsseldorf, Germany, where he served as Chief Commercial Officer (COO) and as Vice President ,Sales, and Managing Director, Northern Europe.
In previous roles, Nicolas has been COO of Shalina Healthcare DMCC with its Headquarters in Dubai and served customers in sub–Saharan Africa region. From 2009 to 2013 Nicolas held responsibility as General Manager for Ditra, Scitra and Abiat Oleo Industries in Sharjah, UAE, the largest contract manufacturer in the Middle East. Other previous roles have been Sales Director for Budelpack International B.V. in Bergenop Zoom, Netherlands, one of the leading contract manufacturers at this time in Europe as well as Business Development Director for SCA Packaging Middle Europe in Nuremberg Germany.
Senior Vice President - Global QSR
Wendy Redmond serves as the Senior Vice President, Global Division of our largest QSR customer at Westrock Coffee Company. Wendy has long had a passion for working with customers and considers it a privilege to create lasting partnership-relationships. She has always enjoyed giving back to the industry in which she works so she has held many positions on Supplier Boards and Committees. And after trying her first cup of Guatemalan Huehuetenango coffee, she was completely hooked on the coffee industry!
Prior to joining Westrock Coffee, Wendy worked extensively in the CPG industry in snack foods, focused primarily in the Convenience Channel with Lance, Inc. based in Charlotte, NC. She began her career at Frito-Lay, Inc. in a sales management training program. She holds a B.S. Degree from Virginia Tech and a MBA from Elon University.
Senior Vice President - Restaurant Sales
Joe Gaer serves as Senior Vice President of Restaurant Sales at Westrock Coffee. Joe is responsible for the sales strategy, account management, and customer experience for the U.S. commercial division.
Prior to joining Westrock Coffee, Joe spent 17 years at Alltel Wireless, where he served in a various roles in Corporate Retail Distribution, Vice President/General Manager, and Division President. Joe currently serves on the Board of the Fort Smith Boy’s Shelter and volunteers at the Central Arkansas Food Bank during his spare time.
Senior Vice President - Non-Commercial Sales
Steve McElhanon serves as Senior Vice President of Non-Commercial Sales for Westrock Coffee Company with an emphasis in convenience stores and distribution. In his role, Steve leads customer acquisition and category and account management. His coffee roots trace back to a March 2009 trip to Rwanda where he experienced coffee farming and learned of the positive impact it has on the people who grow it for a living.
Prior to joining Westrock Coffee, Steve served in many roles within the wireless industry where he was responsible for IT, business processes, sales operations, and sales. He specializes in building and growing high performing teams through a leadership execution model that creates a winning culture by developing team members and future leaders.
Westrock Coffee's Culture
Everyone at Westrock Coffee Company is an equal participant in living our mission of producing great beverages that improve the lives of our farmer partners, customers, and the industry as a whole.