On a list that’s filled with innovative leaders of some high-tech operations, it might seem strange to include a farmer. But Mark Thomann is not your average farmer.
As chairman of FarmedHere, Thomas helps lead an effort to prove that healthy, organic food can be grown efficiently indoors, and that one can make money doing it. In July, Thomann moved to chairman as Matt Matros took the CEO role at FarmedHere.
Thomann, who started in finance and has built an entrepreneurial career reviving dormant iconic brands — he’s also CEO of River West Brands — said FarmedHere is about passion as well as profit.
“I spend 95 percent of my time doing this because it’s something I’m passionate about,” he told the Tribune. “People ask: ‘How will we feed 9 billion people in 2050?’ But that’s an incomplete question. It’s not only ‘how.’ It’s also about what we’re feeding them. We grow local, healthy, organic food.”
A graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, Thomann spent his early career in politics. He worked on two U.S. Senate campaigns, then was Midwest Finance Director for the Clinton/Gore campaign in 1996.
He’s also an investor in Aiwa, a Chicago startup that’s re-imagining the old audio equipment brand as a Bluetooth speaker.
“Mark brings that little different perspective,” Aiwa CEO Joe Born said. “He’s very entrepreneurial in his approach.”