Management Team

Benjamin P. Cowart

Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board

Mr. Cowart has served as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President for Vertex Energy since April 2009. Mr. Cowart has been involved in the petroleum recycling industry for over 30 years. Mr. Cowart is the founder of the Vertex group of companies and has served such companies since 2001. As a leader in the recycling field, Mr. Cowart helped pioneer the reclamation industry by developing recycling options for many residual materials once managed as a hazardous waste. Mr. Cowart has served on NORA’s Board of Directors and as President in 2008. Mr. Cowart was a finalist for the 2015, Gulf Coast Area, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year®. Mr. Cowart has taken an active role in the petroleum industry with his involvement in speaking, consulting, chairing, and serving on various committees and industry associations. Prior to the formation of Holdings, Mr. Cowart served as the Vice President of Aaron Oil Company, a regional recycler in Alabama.

Chris Carlson

Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Carlson has served as Secretary since inception and Chief Financial Officer since June 2010. Mr. Carlson brings a range of experience to his role with the Company. Mr. Carlson worked for Vertex Holdings, L.P. (“Holdings”) as the Vice President of Finance prior to the April 16, 2009, merger between Holdings, the Company, World Waste Technologies, Inc. (“World Waste”) and Vertex Merger Sub, LLC (the “Merger”) where he oversaw the administrative functions of the company, including legal and banking, a position which he had held since October 2001. Mr. Carlson worked for FuelQuest, Inc. before joining Holdings in 2001. There he worked as a Project Lead managing implementations of e-commerce services for new customers. In addition, he also planned and developed testing requirements for e-commerce applications. Mr. Carlson was with Pagenet, a wireless communications company prior to FuelQuest, Inc., where he worked as a Strategic Account Supervisor. Mr. Carlson earned his BS degree in Business Finance from the University of Houston.

John Strickland

Chief Operating Officer

Mr. Strickland was appointed as Chief Operating Officer of the Company effective on October 1, 2015. Mr. Strickland served as our Manager of Supply from the date of our April 16, 2009 merger transaction with Holdings. Prior to the consummation of the merger, Mr. Strickland had worked with Holdings as its Manager of Supply since October 2007. Prior to joining Holdings, Mr. Strickland was employed by Texpar Energy L.L.C., first as General Manager from November 1999 to November 2003, and then as Project Manager from November 2003 to October 2007. From 1986 to 1999, he was the General Manager and Vice- President of Sellers Oil Inc., then one of the largest recycling and fuel marketers of used oil and #6-fuel oil in the southeast. Mr. Strickland has over 21 years of experience in management roles of developing companies in the recycling of used oils and the fuel blending business. In his various positions, he has developed used oil collection fleets, environment services (non-hazardous), Terminal business of #6-oil from water ports and helped develop software for used oil collection fleets

Dave Peel

Corporate Advisor

Mr. Peel has extensive experience in the industry having served over the years as: Chief Operating Officer of Omega Holdings, LLC, President of Peel Management Consulting, Vice President of Oil Refining and Divisional Vice President of Oil Recovery and Envirosystems for Safety-Kleen Corporation, Vice President of Manufacturing, and as Director of Operations for Breslube Enterprises, a re-refining company where he managed that company's re-refining operations.

Mr. Peel received a degree in Mechanical and Production Engineering from Manchester Polytechnic (now the University of Manchester, Institute of Science and Technology) in Manchester, England in 1974. He is a Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (UK) and a Chartered Engineer (UK).

Alvaro Ruiz

Vice President of Business Development

Mr. Ruiz joined Vertex Energy in September 2013. Mr. Ruiz's main focus at Vertex is working with the leadership team to identify, develop and execute strategic commercial and market opportunities, including strategic acquisitions in support of the company's vision, mission and tactical growth strategy. Mr. Ruiz also has an active role managing the relationships with investors and the banking community. Prior to Vertex, Mr. Ruiz held numerous senior management positions throughout his 20 years of experience in the equipment manufacturing, telecom, energy, automotive and environmental services industry sectors. Mr. Ruiz has a solid international background in Europe and Latin America and his leadership positions have included marketing, finance, business development, operations, sales and project management. Mr. Ruiz received a degree in Electric and Electronic Engineering from the Valladolid Polytechnic, Spain, in 1993 and holds an Executive MBA from IE Business School and a Masters in Marketing and Sales from ESIC Business School.

Smith E. Howland

Commercial Manager

Mr. Howland joined Vertex Refining and Marketing in June 2018. Mr. Howland holds BChE and MSc degrees from The Ohio State University, a MBA from Marshall University, and a MIA ( International Affairs) degree from the University of Pittsburgh and has over 45 years of experience in the chemical industry. He has plant operations, process and project engineering, and commercial experience. He served from 1998 through 2007 as President and CEO of Nisseki Chemical Texas, a Texas based specialty chemical company and a subsidiary of Nippon Oil Corporation. He was also recently employed as Director of Assets for Enterprise Products, LP, a midstream company, for their C3 and C4 NGL business.

Mike Stieneker

General Manager of H&H Oil

Mr. Stieneker brings over 30 years of environmental services experience to Vertex Energy, Inc. Mr. Stieneker joined the Vertex team in 2009 heading up the collections arm of Vertex, known as H&H Oil. Mr. Stieneker was Branch Manager for Heritage Crystal Clean in the Houston market from 1990 to 2002, managing everything from parts washers' service and hazardous waste to used motor oil. In 2002, he became Regional Manager for Atlantic Industrial Services. At Atlantic Industrial Services, Mr. Stieneker was responsible for locations in Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, Georgia and Florida.

Erica Snedegar

Base Oils and Intermediate Products

Ms. Snedegar joined Vertex Energy in 2014 and offers over 20 years of business expertise in leadership and executive management, with 18 years of special focus in the petroleum industry, the procurement and sales of off-specification petroleum hydrocarbons, distillate fuels, non-hazardous chemicals and transformer oils. Prior to joining Vertex Energy, she was Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Heartland Petroleum, LLC where she was responsible for all sales and procurement efforts for Heartland’s used oil & street collection division across the mid-western US. Ms. Snedegar has successfully built and owned several businesses over her 20 years — most notably, she was the Co-founder, owner and Vice President of Heartland Refinery Group, LLC, which was the United States' third successfully built GR II+ base oil re-refinery, now a division of Vertex Energy, Inc. Currently, Ms. Snedegar oversees the sales and marketing of Vertex Energy’s Group II+ base oil division. In addition, Ms. Snedegar directly manages the GR III base oil division (Penthol relationship), overseeing all sales, marketing, distribution, accounting and logistics efforts across North America. Ms. Snedegar is also responsible for intermediate by-product stream sales at Vertex Energy’s refinery. Ms. Snedegar earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Toledo, in Toledo Ohio.