Category Archives: Meet the HQO Team

Meet the HQO Team: A Special Salute to Sara Davidson, Susan Knight and Fred Alejo

In honor of Independence Day, we wanted to take a moment and publicly acknowledge some of America’s finest on the High Quality Organics team.  Sara Davidson, Susan Knight and Fred Alejo, we salute you and sincerely thank you for your service to our country and fellow man.

Sara Davidson, National Guard

Sara Davidson this spring at HQO after earning Employee of the Month. She just began serving in the National Guard.

Sara is a more recent member to the HQO team as a Quality Control Technician. She works alongside our Manager of Quality Control and Product Development, Chef Dawn Wykoff, ensuring that we always uphold our reputation as the leading provider of the highest quality organic ingredients.  Sara just began serving as a member of the National Guard, a part-time commitment that allows her to continue to work at HQO. We couldn’t be more proud of her willingness to contribute to the safety of our country in this unique way.

Susan Knight enjoying a quick break on the hiking trails of Reno/Tahoe. She served in the U.S. Army after graduating from high school.

Susan Knight enjoying a quick break on the hiking trails of Reno/Tahoe. She served in the United States Army after graduating from high school.

Susan Knight, Army

Susan has been with HQO since its beginning. As a Sales Executive, she is an integral part of the HQO sales team and helps mentor new sales managers by sharing her vast knowledge and passion for organic ingredients. While Susan may not talk a lot about her military experience at work, she certainly exhibits the classic traits of a great soldier: discipline, determination and hard work. It’s no wonder she’s a top performer at HQO.

What made you join the military?
I was attracted to the military because of the GI Education Bill.
What was your branch/rank/job?
Helicopter Mechanic
What was your most memorable experience from serving in the military?
I was stationed in Germany and was able to travel around Europe. Looking back I should have done more but when you are only 18 you think you have all the time in the world.
What lesson(s) did the military teach you that you use to this day?
I think the military is a very good “in between” step after graduating
from high school to being on your own.  You are on your own but it is
Is there anything else you’d like to share from your military
experience? (Funny story, special encounter, etc.)
I think if I had to do it all over again I would make the same choices. It was a wonderful experience. I met many people from all over the world and saw a lot of
places.  The U.S. is a great place to live.
Fred and his father at his promotion from Staff Sargent to Second Lieutenant.

Fred and his father at his promotion from Staff Sargent to Second Lieutenant.

Fred Alejo, Army

Fred served in the United States Army prior to starting his professional career in the food industry. As the Vice President of Sales and Sustainability at HQO, he often refers to his military experience in team building exercises and when brainstorming customer solutions.

What made you join the military?
A sense of patriotism and adventure.
What was your branch/rank/job?
Army, 1st Lieutenant when I left, Infantry
What was your most memorable experience from serving in the military?
Getting into a massive brawl at a night club in Atlanta. [You’ll have to ask him about the details in person!]
What lesson(s) did the military teach you that you use to this day?
Failing a mission is not an option.
Is there anything else you’d like to share from your military
experience? (Funny story, special encounter, etc.)
There is no problem or obstacle that cannot be overcome
Photo credit:

Photo credit:

To all of the members of our armed forces, High Quality Organics thanks you and salutes you for your great contribution to the, “Land of the free, Home of the brave.”

Happy Fourth of July!

Meet the HQO Team: Eric Granata

Name: Eric Granata

HQO Role: Sales Analyst & Manager

Place of Birth: Reno, NV

Education: B.S. Economics & Finance, University of Nevada, Reno. MBA (’15), University of Nevada, Reno.

Why Eric Chose HQO:  I was attracted to HQO because of the growth opportunities in the company and the ability to work around my class schedule when I was an intern.  I am really excited to be working full-time now and expanding my role in sales. Meeting customers, learning the art of selling and working with the dynamic sales team are going to be great opportunities for me to grow and broaden my skills set.

Why HQO Chose Eric: HQO is privileged to be working in a community with a very well regarded business program at the University of Reno, Nevada (UNR). This past year we began to make an aggressive effort to seek out high-performing students at UNR and invite them to test out their knowledge in our fast-paced environment.  We’ve found the experiment to be extremely successful with our first two candidates, of which Eric is one.  His self discipline and drive, solid business knowledge and computer skills are just a few examples of why we are so pleased to bring Eric on full-time. He has quickly become a very valuable contributor to our growing sales team.

A Little About Eric: When Eric isn’t working, he’s drinking protein smoothies. (Just kidding!) While he does seem to consume an unusual amount of cloudy beverages at the office, it’s really because he’s a super active guy. When he’s not working out in the gym, he’s exploring the outdoors anyway he can, a classic result of growing up in the foothills of the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Eric also spends countless hours every year improving his vast knowledge of useless (according to him) sports trivia knowledge. (Note to self: choose Eric for the next office Trivial Pursuit throw down.)

Meet the HQO Team: Rachel Fransen

Name: Rachel Fransen

HQO Role: Supply Chain Administrator

Place of Birth: Genoa, NV

Education: B.S. in Business Administration with a focus in Management and Marketing, University of Nevada, Reno.

Why Rachel Chose HQO: Nutrition is one of my passions. I have been researching our food system and buying organic for about five years now. I had no clue High Quality Organics existed, but when I saw the job posting for an organic food company on the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) job board, I immediately applied because I wanted to find a career that blended with my passions with my skills set. I am really excited to be able to grow within the organization. There are a lot of opportunities to move around, learn new things and make a positive impact.

Why HQO Chose Rachel: Rachel is another great candidate from our new effort to attract top talent from the well-regarded business program at UNR. Her passion and knowledge of organics was a natural match for High Quality Organics. That, paired with her positive energy, organizational skills and excellent business knowledge, made her the perfect compliment to the supply team.  And, as our Vice President of Supply Chain openly acknowledges, “She can put up with me!” was another excellent reason to welcome Rachel onto HQO’s supply team full-time.

A Little About Rachel: Like most others at HQO, Rachel is a health and wellness nut that loves to play in the beautiful areas surrounding Reno, NV.  Whether it’s going to Lake Tahoe with her dog Louie, or hiking one of the hundreds of trails in the immediate area, Rachel is always happiest when active and outdoors. She also loves to travel – be it to Boston to see her sister or abroad. (Rachel spent a semester abroad at the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain a few years ago learning the Spanish language and culture.)

Meet the HQO Team: Michael Klass

Name: Michael Klass Michael Klass Pic copy

HQO Role: East Coast Sales Manager

Place of Birth: A Jersey boy and proud of it! (Well, for the most part.)  Born in Newark and now lives in Morganville, just 40 minutes from the beaches. He lived in Brooklyn for 18 months and vowed he’ll never go back.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Rowan University. MBA in Marketing from Rutgers Graduate School of Management.

Why Michael Chose HQO: Michael has always had a passion for food and fitness and was eagerly seeking a place that was a better fit for his values.  HQO’s entrepreneurial, fast-paced environment and dynamic sales team sealed the deal for Michael.  He’s excited to put his strengths to work on growing sales on the east coast.

Why HQO Chose Michael: Great experience in food ingredient sales paired with a love of food, family and fitness is what brought Michael to the attention of HQO. His energetic, go-get-‘em attitude and demonstrated sales experience will make him a valuable asset to the HQO team. He has hit the ground running and we’re confident his contributions will be a great asset to the next chapter in HQO’s growth.

Memories with Michael: Michael refers to his wife of 20 years as his beautiful bride. (Can we say brownie points?) He’s fully aware his teenage daughter is totally embarrassed by his presence.  Meanwhile, he’s happy to have a nine-year-old son who still thinks his dad is “kinda” cool.  Michael loves to entertain but not just at home, he has been known to do some killer DJing at a handful of parties each year.  (Now, to come up with a reason to put that skill to work at HQO!)

Meet the HQO Team: Liam Le

Name: Liam LeLiem Boat Pic copy

HQO Role: Senior Buyer

Place of Birth: Born and raised in Saigon, Vietnam. Immigrated to Southern California at age 14.

Education: B.S. Business Management

Why Liam Chose HQO: I have a background in sourcing and managing a supply chain but have never been able to match my career with my passions for health and cooking. When I saw an ad for the position, I thought it would be a great fit. I was affirmed with that feeling when I went through the interview process.  From my first phone calls with Toby (VP of Supply Chain) and Raju (HQO’s CEO) to meeting the entire team, I have been blown away by the time and energy HQO not only puts into serving their customers but recruiting, training and welcoming new team members.  I’m so happy to be part of HQO family!

Why HQO Chose Liam: Liam not only demonstrated a great supply management skills set from his time at International Paper and Quickstart, but he also shows great drive, interpersonal skills and a sense of adventure.  Those strengths married with his passion for health and wellness made him an easy pick for our growing team.  We’re very excited to watch him develop and add value to our supply chain. Welcome Liam!

A Little About Liam: One of Liam’s favorite quotes is by the great Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

From backpacking in Asia for six months to cruising around stateside on his Harley Davidson Sportster, Liam is an adventurous soul with a desire to enjoy the outdoors any way possible.  Just ask him about that time in Yosemite. Yeah, thank goodness we didn’t know about that one before we hired him! ;0) (Liam’s reply, “Ah, ya live and learn.”)