Cyanotech CEO steps down as company shifts focus
Cyanotech Corp., a Kona-based producer of nutritional products, said yesterday that founder Gerald Cysewski will be stepping down as chairman, president and CEO.
The move is part of the company's shift from the processing and distribution of microalgae products to a marketing-oriented focus on its human nutrition products, astaxanthin and spirulina. Cysewski, who founded the company nearly 25 years ago, will serve as chief scientific officer, where he will develop new microalgae products.
"I think I can make a real contribution by getting back and devoting 100 percent of my time to that effort," Cysewski said in an interview yesterday.
Cyanotech's board has hired Chicago-based executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles International Inc. to manage the search for the new chief executive officer. Cysewski will serve in his current position until a new president and CEO is found. No timeline has been set for that hiring, he said. The company has not yet decided how to fill the position of chairman.
Cysewski, 58, started researching commercial microalgae production 40 years ago as an assistant professor at the University of California's Santa Barbara campus before starting small-scale operations at the Battelle Institute in Pasco, Wash. He then chose Kona to begin large-scale microalgae cultivation and processing.
On Thursday, Cyanotech said sales of spirulina, a nutrient-rich microalgae, fell 2 percent to $1.4 million for the second quarter. Sales of natural astaxanthin products jumped 18 percent to $1.2 million from $1 million. Revenue was dragged down by NatuRose, an astaxanthin used in animal feeds, which decreased by 35 percent from a year earlier.
The company also launched two formulations in the quarter as part of its efforts to improve its product mix with more human nutrition products and higher-margin branded products.