Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer
Arie Kotler serves as the Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Arko Corp. since the closing of the merger transaction with Haymaker Acquisition Corp. II on December 22, 2020. Mr. Kotler also serves as the Chief Executive Officer of GPM Investments, LLC (“GPM”), a role he has held since September 2011 and GPM’s President, a role he has held since April 2015. From November 2005 through December 2020, Mr. Kotler served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Arko Holdings Ltd., a publicly traded company on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and GPM’s controlling owner until it merged with Haymaker Acquisition Corp. II to form Arko Corp. After forming GPM and initiating and managing the acquisition of fas mart and shore stop in 2003, Mr. Kotler served as the Chairman of GPM through November 2005. From 2011 to 2014, he served as a director and, from 2012 to 2014, he served as Chairman of Malrag 2011 Engineering and Construction Ltd., a publicly traded company on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Since 2011, Mr. Kotler has served as Chairman of Ligad Investments & Building Ltd., a corporation which was publicly traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange until it was taken private in January 2013.
Michael J. Gade
Michael J. Gade has served as a Senior Advisor to the Global Consumer Group of Boston Consulting Group since 2007. He has been serving on the Board of Directors of Rent-A-Center, Inc. (NASDAQ: RCII) and of the Crane Group, Inc., a 4th generation family office. Previously, he has served on the board of the following corporations: MACS, Inc, a private equity owned convenience chain and gasoline distributor in the Mid-Atlantic region; One Network, Inc, a leading software developer in the area of Demand Based Supply Chains as part of a Total Logistics solution; and Strive Group & Strive Logistics, a promotional group serving the consumer products industry. Additionally, Mr. Gade was the Senior Partner and Chairman of Coopers & Lybrand’s Retail and Consumer Practice (now PWC) as well as a senior executive at 7-Eleven, having been responsible for merchandising, marketing and business development.
Lead Independent Director
Andrew R. Heyer, President and a Director of Haymaker Acquisition Corp. II since inception through the closing of the merger transaction, is a finance professional with over 40 years of experience investing in the consumer and consumer-related products and services industries, as well as a senior banker in leveraged finance during which time his clients included many large private equity firms. Mr. Heyer was an officer and director of Haymaker Acquisition Corp. I until it completed its business combination with OneSpaWorld Holdings (NASDAQ:OSW) in March 2019, and has remained on its board since such time. Currently, Mr. Heyer is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Mistral Equity Partners, a private equity fund manager founded in 2007 that invests in the consumer industry. Prior to founding Mistral in 2007, from 2000 to 2007, Mr. Heyer served as a Founding Managing Partner of Trimaran Capital Partners, a $1.3 billion private equity fund. Mr. Heyer was formerly a vice chairman of CIBC World Markets Corp. and a co-head of the CIBC Argosy Merchant Banking Funds from 1995 to 2001. Prior to joining CIBC World Markets Corp. in 1995, Mr. Heyer was a founder and Managing Director of The Argosy Group L.P. from 1990 to 1995. Before Argosy, from 1984 to 1990, Mr. Heyer was a Managing Director at Drexel Burnham Lambert Incorporated and, previous to that, he worked at Shearson/American Express. Mr. Heyer also serves on the board of several private companies owned in whole or in part by Mistral, including Worldwise, Inc., a pet accessories business from 2011 to the present, and The Lovesac Company (NASDAQ: LOVE), a branded omni-channel retailer of technology-forward furniture, from 2010 to the present. Mr. Heyer also serves on the boards of Tastemaker Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: TMKRU), AF Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: AFAQ), and Haymaker Acquisition Corp. III (NASDAQ: HYAC).
Morris Willner served as Chairman of the board of GPM from January 2015 through December 2020. Mr. Willner is the founder of Willner Realty & Development (WRDC), a full service, multi-faceted real estate development company focused on value-add adaptive-reuse projects spanning the east coast US and Israel. He was also a certified public accountant previously associated with the accounting firm of Arthur Young & Co. and the investment firm Fidelity Bond & Mortgage Co.
Sherman K. Edmiston III
Sherman K. Edmiston III has served as a Managing Member of HI CapM Advisors, a consulting firm providing strategic and financial advice to corporations, private equity firms and hedge funds, since August 2016. In addition to our Board, Mr. Edmiston is currently serving on the board of directors of the following corporations: GTT Communications, Inc. (NYSE: GTT), a multinational provider of telecommunications and internet services; Key Energy Services, Inc. (OTC: KEGX), a leading provider of oilfield services in the Permian Basin and California; and SpecGX LLC and related entities (subsidiaries of Mallinckrodt plc (NYSE: MNK)), a leading developer and manufacturer of high-quality specialty generic drugs. Mr. Edmiston formerly served on the boards of Arch Resources (NYSE: ARCH) and Centric Brands and is also a director on several private company boards. From November 2009 through December 2015, Mr. Edmiston served as Managing Director of Zolfo Cooper LLC (now Alix Partners), where he provided financial and operational advisory serves to corporations and investment firms.
Steven J. Heyer, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Chairman of Haymaker Acquisition Corp. II since inception through the closing of the merger transaction, has over 40 years of experience in the consumer and consumer-related products and services industries, leading a range of companies and brands. Mr. Heyer has applied his experience and analytical skills in a variety of leadership positions across diverse industry groups, including broadcast media, consumer products, and hotel and leisure companies. Over the past eight years, he has been acting as an advisor and director to, and investor in, several private companies across the consumer subsectors of health and wellness, restaurants, technology, marketing services and technology and furniture. From its formation until it completed its business combination with OneSpaWorld Holdings (NASDAQ:OSW) in March 2019, he was an officer and director of Haymaker Acquisition Corp. I. Since its business combination, he has served as Vice Chairman on the board of directors of OneSpaWorld Holdings. Mr. Heyer’s operating experiences include: leading the turnaround of Outback Steakhouse as an advisor (from 2010 to 2012); as Chief Executive Officer of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (from 2004 until 2007); as President and Chief Operating Officer of The Coca-Cola Company (from 2001 to 2004); as a member of the boards of Coca-Cola FEMSA, and Coca-Cola Enterprises (all from 2001 to 2004); as President and Chief Operating Officer of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., and a member of AOL Time Warner’s Operating Committee (from 1994 to 2001); as President and Chief Operating Officer of Young & Rubicam Advertising Worldwide (from 1992 to 1994); and before that spending 15 years at Booz Allen & Hamilton, ultimately becoming Senior Vice President and Managing Partner. For the last five years, Mr. Heyer has served on the boards of Lazard Ltd, Lazard Group, and Atkins Nutritionals Inc. as well as investing in a private capacity in early stage and venture consumer and consumer media companies.
Avram (Avi) Friedman
Avram (Avi) Friedman is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Business at Columbia Business School since 2021. From 2001 to 2020, Mr. Friedman worked at Davidson Kempner Capital Management LP (“Davidson Kempner”), a global investment management firm with approximately $37 billion in assets under management and over 500 employees across seven global offices. Mr. Friedman was a Managing Member of the firm from 2006 through 2020. During his time at Davidson Kempner, Mr. Friedman co-managed the firm’s credit portfolios, including distressed investments, high yield, convertible arbitrage, real estate and structured products. In addition to portfolio management, Mr. Friedman also served on various investment and risk committees. Prior to Davidson Kempner, Mr. Friedman was a Vice President at Nomura Securities Special Situations Investment Trust from 2000 to 2001 and a Director in the Special Situations Group at PricewaterhouseCoopers Securities LLC from 1995 to 2000. Previously, Mr. Friedman was a Director of GPM Investments, LLC (ARKO Corp.’s main operating subsidiary) from 2014-2020.
Laura Karet has over 30 years of experience in the grocery and consumer products industries. From 2012 to 2023, Ms. Karet served as the Chief Executive Officer of Giant Eagle, Inc. (“Giant Eagle”), one of the nation’s largest retailers with approximately 32,000 team members and $11 billion in annual sales. She also served as the chairman of Giant Eagle’s board of directors. From 2000 to 2012, Ms. Karet served as Vice President of Marketing of Giant Eagle, during which period she was honored as one of Progressive Grocer Magazine's 2010 Top Women in Grocery. During her tenure at Giant Eagle, Ms. Karet was noted for a variety of innovations, including enhancing manufacturing and fresh food production capabilities that led to expanded product offerings. She also focused on applying next generation technologies such A.I., robotics, and automation to retail, e-commerce, customer behavior and supply chains to streamline operations in stores and online. Prior to joining Giant Eagle, Ms. Karet was a marketing executive at the Sara Lee Corporation from 1997 to 2000 and a brand manager at the Procter & Gamble Company from 1990 to 1997, where she oversaw such household names such as Secret antiperspirant, Folgers coffee, and Crisco. Ms. Karet is a Trustee for the Brookings Institution and the Committee for Economic Development. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.