Leadership

As stewards of The Christy Way, it is our privilege to lead Christy’s people in seeing our purpose on this earth beyond the essential products and services we provide.  Embracing that vision requires our leadership team to foster a culture where the work our people do, the way they are treated and the experiences they have promotes their wellbeing and helps them lead fulfilling lives at Christy. When we demonstrate a sincere commitment to that culture, the company receives the very best our people have to offer in return, creating a win-win outcome for everyone.

Executive Officers

Frank O'Brien

“We believe that in the end any entity is judged by the good that it does. Complying with just laws and simply making money, we felt, is a rather low bar to achieve. This belief led to Christy’s current set of mission and value that guide our daily efforts.”

Mr. O’Brien currently serves as Managing Partner for O’Brien Industrial Holdings, LLC dba Christy Industrial Holdings (www.christyco.com). Mr. O’Brien started his career at Babcock and Wilcox’s Refractory Division (now Thermal Ceramics). He held the positions of Application Engineer, Foundries and Non-Ferrous Metals Market Manager and Sales Engineer. He joined Christy Refractories Company in 1977 as a Sales Engineer. Successively he held the positions of Regional Sales Manager, Vice President of Sales, Vice President of Sales and Manufacturing and President. He purchased the assets of the Company in 1995. 

In 1996 Mr. O’Brien was a finalist for the Ernst and Young LLP Entrepreneur of the Year. O’Brien Industrial Holdings LLC has been listed as one of INC Magazine’s INC 5000 fastest growing companies in the U.S. for 2007, 2009 and 2015.

President of the Cedar Lake Foundation
The mission of Cedar Lake Foundation is to provide spiritual education programs to people of all ages and help them grow in virtue, family life and Christian love as modeled by the Holy Family. The foundation manages a 40-acre site in St. Charles County, MO where a shrine to the Holy Family has been erected. Plans are in place for the development of a 35-bedroom conference complex and retreat center to be built in the future. For more information go to www.CedarLakeFoundation.org.

Emeritus Board Member of Family Enrichment Network
The mission of Family Enrichment Network is to provide supportive services for the optimal development of children and families. The organization offers courses developed by the International Federation for Family Development that have helped thousands of people foster strong, health families over the years. These courses teach important communication skills that empower parents to work as a team in educating their children and improving the quality of life for their family. They also provide a fantastic support system and community among participating families. For more information go to www.FamilyEnrichment.org.

Education: 

  • 1974 BS Ceramic Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • 1990 Honorary Degree of Ceramic Engineer from the University of Missouri Institute of Science and Technology
  • Emeritus Vistage member
Brian K. Osborne

“I have spent my entire career at Christy. What I love about this company is how our team values innovation and getting results. If you want to make a difference in the world, while advancing your knowledge and developing your skills, I cannot imagine a better place to be.”

Mr. Osborne currently serves as CEO of Christy Industrial Holdings with four operating units which mine, manufacture and distribute industrial ceramic products for the global heavy industries. He also serves as president of Christy Catalytics, LLC.

Mr. Osborne began his career with Christy Refractories immediately following graduation from college.  He sequentially held the positions of Research and Development Engineer, Environmental Compliance Officer, Assistant Plant Manager, Operations Manager, Vice President of Operations and Vice President of Sales and Marketing before he became President of Christy Catalytics in 2004 when this business was formed. He subsequently served as president of each of the various Christy affiliates before becoming CEO of the holding company in 2011.

Mr. Osborne has served on various civic, education, charitable and corporate boards and currently serves on the boards of Rhodey Construction, The Refractories Institute and True Vine Christian Counseling.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Education:

  • 1990 B.S. Ceramic Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology Magna Cum Laude
  • 1991 M.S. Ceramic Engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • Vistage member for 15+ years
James Spellmeyer

“What makes this company special is how they truly live their values – even when it costs a few bucks more or it’s inconvenient. It’s a place where the only limit on what you can achieve is YOU, not someone else who is keeping you from reaching what you want to accomplish.”

Mr. Spellmeyer currently serves as CFO of Christy Industrial Holdings. He started his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP where he advanced to the position of Manager, leading teams providing accounting, auditing and tax services primarily to privately held companies. 

Prior to joining Christy, Mr. Spellmeyer served in various financial management roles at Emerson Electric Co., Kellwood Company, and a variety of private companies in both manufacturing and service industries including private equity-owned organizations. Mr. Spellmeyer joined Christy in 2013 and is responsible for banking, accounting, tax and other financial matters for the company. 

Education:

  • 1979 Honors B.S.- Business Administration from St. Louis University, Saint Louis, Missouri
  • 1980 MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
  • Certified Public Accountant, Chartered Global Management Accountant
Vernon Christensen

“Christy offers our employees the opportunity for true professional and personal growth. We encourage people to take smart risks, to be committed to excellence and to learn from their mistakes. Then we support that effort with great benefits, the resources they need to succeed and a management team that truly cares about the best interests of our team.”

Mr. Christensen began his career as a research analyst for the Tax Division of the State of Utah directly reporting to the Utah State Tax Commissioner. There he was involved primarily with issues associated with Utah’s natural resources-based industries.

He then served as Program Manager for Westronix, Inc., a publicly traded company involved in contract manufacturing to the electronics industry. Subsequent to this he worked for BHA Group Inc., a supplier of replacement parts and accessories to industrial particulate control equipment. There he served in a variety of positions including Technical Services Engineer, Product Manager and Manager-Technical Services for the company’s European subsidiary.

Following BHA Group, he worked for Rauschert Process Technologies, Inc as Vice President-Sales and Marketing. He then served as Manager-Global Business Development for Penta Engineering Corporation, a provider of engineering services to the global minerals processing industry.

Mr. Christensen joined Christy in 2009, and he currently serves as Vice President-Business Development at Christy Catalytics LLC. 

Education:

  • 1981 B.A. German with honors from University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT Substantial undergraduate course work in mechanical and mining engineering.
  • 1989 M.S. Industrial Engineering University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Kevin Dustmann

“From the first day I started here, I could feel Christy’s strong culture of personal growth. I was given the freedom and the resources right away to expand our supply chain and logistics capabilities. Coming from a large corporation, it was gratifying to have the ability to make a direct impact on the results of the company.”

Mr. Dustmann started his career as a Process Engineer at Olin Brass.  During that time, he developed casting and rolling procedures for experimental copper-based alloys, found solutions to quality complaints from customers and drove plant-yield improvement. 

In 2006, Mr. Dustmann became the Materials Coordinator at Olin Brass and was responsible for procuring copper, zinc, nickel and tin as well as eliminating commodity risk to the company by using financial derivatives.  Annual purchases exceeded USD 90,000,000.

Mr. Dustmann joined O’Brien Industrial Holdings, LLC in 2008 as Sourcing Manager.  While in this role, Mr. Dustmann developed and solidified the supply chain for Christy Catalytics, LLC, as well as two other operating entities under O’Brien Industrial Holdings, LLC.  Today, Mr. Dustmann serves as Vice President of Operations for Christy Catalytics, LLC.  Mr. Dustmann oversees all customer service, quality control, plant operations and supply chain related activities, including the creation and startup of Christy Catalytics (Shanghai) Trading Co., Ltd., a wholly owned foreign enterprise located in Shanghai, China.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Education: 

  • 2006 M.B.A. Washington University, Saint Louis, MO
  • 2000 B.S. Materials Science and Engineering at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL
  • Vistage member
Kelvin Zhenwei

“Christy offers the right balance between being a leading company in an important global business without being too big to move quickly and focus on the needs of the individual. The company’s mission demonstrates how they care for the mutual benefit of our team and for the people who count on the products and services we provide.”

Mr. Yang started his career as an inspection engineer at Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau in the raw material laboratory. After he left his inspection job, he joined Huayi Micro-Electric Material Company to learn about advanced analysis equipment. From mid-2006, he worked as quality assurance manager for Seves Shanghai Glass and later Riello Burner Company.

In 2012, Mr. Yang joined newly formed Christy Catalytics Shanghai where he is responsible for Christy’s Shanghai, China based operation for supply chain management and export activities, as well as coordination of domestic sales in China.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Education:

  • 2004 M.S. of Materials Science and Engineering, Shanghai Jiaotong University. China.
  • 2001 B.S. of Materials Science and Engineering, Shanghai Jiaotong University. China.
Shane Bower

“I joined the Christy team years ago hoping to find a long-term home that encouraged professional development while placing a strong value on work/life balance. Not only did that hope become a reality, but I found much more, including a commitment to making a difference in the community helping families who have endured personal setbacks.”

Mr. Bower began his career as a Sales Engineer for A.P. Green Industries in Mexico, MO supporting the Aluminum Industry. While at A.P. Green he also ran a distribution center and sales territory in Western Washington State.  He moved back to Mexico, MO with A.P. Green as a Senior Applications Engineer – International developing sales strategies and technical support for the international customer base. A.P.Green was purchased by Harbison Walker Refractories and he took a role as Aluminum Market Specialist setting strategy and supporting sales of refractory products to the primary and secondary aluminum markets.

Following Harbison Walker, Mr. Bower worked for Allied Mineral Products in their Matrix Refractories Division as Senior Sales Representative and Product Manager. In this role, he was responsible for a sales territory in the Midwest along with providing technical product support for the worldwide sales force and distribution network. 

Mr. Bower joined Christy Minerals in 2003 as V.P. of Sales and Marketing and accepted the role of President in October 2017.

Education:

  • 1991 B.S. Ceramic Engineering from Alfred University, Alfred, NY
Chris Perry

“I’ve been given the opportunity to train, design, invent, learn, improve, and fail, all the while helping Christy grow into a better organization. It’s been especially rewarding to see how our design concepts have had a positive impact on our customers’ operations.”

Mr. Perry started work with Christy as an application engineer troubleshooting the US production of support media for CATCO as well as sole design and costing for Christy Refractories fabricated products.  With Christy’s acquisition of the Ohio facility, he commuted there to rebuild cars, managing the kiln retrofit and improving the product and QC. 

He transitioned to Engineering Manager for Christy Refractories in 2015, taking on leadership of CRC Engineering and Customer Service.  In 2017, Chris took on the Vice President of Engineering role, later adding responsibility for R&D and quality control.  In 2020, he was promoted to president of both Christy Refractories and Christy Industrial Services.

Education:

  • 2010 B.S. Ceramic Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO.
  • Vistage Member
Jeff Porter

“Christy is a family of businesses that appreciates the importance of our employees’ families, as well, and how integral they are to the success of our team and our company.”

Mr. Porter began his career with Christy following two years of employment in refractory contracting as a project engineer for Fleischer – Seeger Construction. His first position with Christy was as project manager with Christy Industrial services. He accepted a transfer to Christy Minerals as the plant engineer, was promoted to plant manager, and then VP of Operations for the Minerals division.

He assumed responsibility for Shamrock Proppants as VP. He then accepted a transfer and promotion to president of Christy Refractories and later, Christy Industrial Services where he served for several years before transitioning to his current role as VP of Operations for both entities.

These businesses offer turnkey refractory supply and installation, primarily with in a 500-mile radius of St. Louis, MO with an emphasis on precast refractory shapes, installation services and distributed product offerings to the non-ferrous metals, specialty alloy, power and petro-chemical industries.

Education

  • 1990 B.S. Ceramic Engineering from University of Missouri Rolla, Rolla, MO
  • Vistage member for 8+ years

Board of Directors

Michael DeCola

Mr. DeCola served as Chief Executive Officer of HBM Holdings from January, 2014 until February, 2019 when he became Vice Chairman.  He is a member of the Board of Directors for HBM and is Chairman of the Board for Mississippi Lime Company, a subsidiary of HBM Holdings.

Prior to joining Mississippi Lime in 1999, Mr. DeCola was the General Manager of FMC Corporation’s Pharmaceutical Division, which markets excipients to the global pharmaceutical industry.

Mr. DeCola joined FMC in 1977, and has held a number of increasingly responsible positions, primarily in planning and marketing.  He holds an MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia and a BA degree in Economics from Franklin and Marshall College.

Mr. DeCola resides in Naples, Florida with his wife Lee.

Mr. DeCola is a member of the President’s Regional Advisory Board and Class Agent for Franklin and Marshall College. He is a Trustee Emeritus of the Darden School Foundation, and serves on the Advancement Committee.  He also serves in an advisory role for the Darden Annual Fund.  He is also a regular visiting teacher at Darden and at the MBA Programs at St. Louis University and Washington University.  He is a Board Member of Enterprise Financial Services Corporation, and serves on the Compensation Committee, which he formerly chaired.  Mr. DeCola was the General Chairman of the 2018 PGA Championship, which was held at Bellerive Country Club.   Mr. DeCola serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committees for the United Way of Greater St. Louis and the St. Louis Sports Commission, where he is also the Chair of the Development Committee. 

HBM Holdings was formed in January, 2014 to oversee all of the business interests owned by the Harry B. Mathews, Jr. Trust.  Mississippi Lime, founded in 1907 by Harry B. Mathews, Jr. is a leading supplier of calcium products throughout the U.S.  Its Ste. Genevieve facility is the world’s largest and most complex calcium plant in the world.  Other calcium facilities are based in Verona, KY; Weirton, WV; Vicksburg, MS; Chester, SC; Huron, OH and Mobile, AL.   Tru-Flex, LLC, is a manufacturer of high performance metal hoses and bellows that connect emissions systems to the pollution control platform on heavy duty trucks and equipment, with several manufacturing facilities in Indiana and Poland.  Schafer Gear manufactures gears for a wide variety of applications and drive trains for a light and medium duty off-road vehicles.  Aerofil Technologies is a major contract manufacturer and packager of aerosol and liquid products for a large number of consumer products.

Jackie Levin

A former President and CEO of two global industrial food companies, Jackie Levin brings over 35 years of experience in building teams and delivering profitable growth.

In 2002, she was recruited by Ensign-Bickford Industries to be President and CEO of its largest business unit, AFB International.    During her tenure Jackie:

  • Quadrupled sales and profits through consistent organic global growth and a strong acquisition strategy;
  • Led initiatives to create world-class facilities in North America, Europe, Argentina, Australia, and Brazil;
  • Built laboratories to support new technology platforms;
  • Created sales offices in Europe, Asia Pacific and Mexico to service the total global market.  

Her leadership resulted in AFB becoming one of the world’s top suppliers of pet food and treat flavors with sales over $200 million and 300 employees worldwide.

After graduating from Purdue with a degree in mechanical engineering she joined Procter & Gamble as a product engineer, successfully launching its prepared orange juice business as a member of a small, cross-functional team which became the model for future new business initiatives.

Subsequently, Jackie earned an MBA at the Ross School of Business and was recruited to the consulting firm, McKinsey & Company.  For three years she played a key role in the Consumer-Packaged Goods Practice developing long-term strategies and operational assessments for Fortune 500 companies.

At Griffith Laboratories (now Griffith Foods), an industrial ingredient producer for CPG and Foodservice, she served as Global Marketing Chief and ultimately, President of Innova, Griffith’s flavor division.  From a startup in 1997, Jackie grew Innova to $25 million in revenue.  Subsequently she was invited to join private equity firm Willis Stein as a sponsored executive before joining AFB International.

A strong proponent of family and wellness, Jackie is committed to creating a healthy, welcoming environment for all stakeholders.  Though firmly rooted in her home community of St. Louis, Missouri, the experienced traveler enjoys exploring the world both personally and professionally.

Stephen Notestine

Stephen Notestine received a BSBA in Marketing from the University of Denver in 1975.  Upon graduation, he began employment in the Industrial Sales Department of Turley Martin Company, St Louis’ largest commercial/industrial real estate brokerage firm.  In 1984, he relocated to become Executive Vice President of F.L. Sweeney Corp., another commercial real estate brokerage firm.  His interest gravitated toward the sale of income producing properties, with a primary focus on shopping centers.

In 1990, he joined Midland Development Group as a Partner.  His duties grew to  overseeing all development activities throughout 14 Midwestern states.  Midland was sold in 1998 to Regency Realty for $253M.  Mr. Notestine remained with Regency to complete 8 shopping centers which were under construction at the time of sale.    

In 2000, he joined 2 former Midland partners to found Quadrant Properties, LLC, a real estate development firm which primarily focused on land development in Denver and Dallas.  Quadrant Properties began winding down in 2008 when the credit markets were becoming unstable and the real estate industry was showing signs of stress. 

Since his departure from Quadrant Properties, Mr Notestine has been focused on non-real estate activities, Not-for-Profit activities and personal interests.  Specifically, Mr. Notestine is currently focused on the following:

Sequoia Sciences, Inc- an early stage drug discovery company, with current  programs in a vaccine for antibiotic resistant UTIs, currently in human trials, an early stage cancer compound and an early stage Cystic Fibrosis treatment.  Mr. Notestine is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Roman Catholic Foundation- a founding and current member of the Board of Directors and current Chair of the Audit Committee.

Academy of St Louis- a longtime supporter of this small special needs school  located in Chesterfield, MO, recently approved as a Catholic school within the Archdiocese of St Louis.  Mr. Notestine is currently President of the Board of Directors