Meet the Ocean's Balance Team

IMG_1289 (1).jpg

We love the coast of Maine, are committed to supporting local coastal communities and are serious foodies.

 
IMG_3358.jpg

Tollef Olson, President

Born and raised in Maine, Tollef has saltwater in his blood having worked as a commercial fisherman, captain of marine salvage expeditions, and for the past 30 years in the aquaculture industry. Tollef founded Bangs Island Mussels, which is the leading mussel brand in Maine and is distributed to top restaurants and stores around the country. While growing mussels, Tollef started experimenting with farming various species of seaweed. He ended up creating the first commercial scale seaweed farm in the US and wrote the manual on kelp farming that is still used by farmers in the US and throughout the world. Tollef has processed seaweed in every form imaginable and has received feedback from consumers for more than 14 years regarding what species people like and in what forms. Tollef manages Ocean’s Balance farming and harvesting operations. He has not only built its farms, but he also trains and helps set up fishermen/lobstermen on their own farms to grow kelp and diversify their income stream and to prepare for the impacts of climate change on their livelihoods. It takes a rare breed of person to enjoy being out on the water in the middle of January in Maine, but Tollef fits the bill.

Tollef’s passion for talking about seaweed is contagious and he is a known fixture throughout Maine as well as in aquaculture circles throughout the country. He has been featured on Martha’s Stewart’s TV show, The Food Channel with Alton Brown’s Good Eats, and written about in the New York Times, Boston Globe, The Japan Times, NBC's Today, Seafood Source, Gastropod, The Portland Press Herald and Maine Magazine. He is also a partner and staff member at the Macroalgae Nursery and Research Cluster in the University of New England's Marine Science Center.

Mitchell Lench, CEO

Mitch has been an entrepreneur from the time he was 9 years old, selling coffee and doughnuts to a captive audience of drivers stuck in gas lines during the oil crisis of the 1970s. He went on to manage large and very profitable businesses within global institutions including Bank of America and Credit Suisse. Besides enjoying building businesses, he is also a passionate and active supporter of conservation as well as providing opportunities to help people rise out of poverty, here at home and in developing countries. Mitch founded one of the early impact investment management companies that invested in and provided opportunities to micro-entrepreneurs across the developing world while delivering solid financial returns to investors. He also has built operating companies in the agricultural/aquaculture field that have a triple bottom line objective. Mitch co-founded Ocean’s Balance because he recognized that seaweed was going to be a long-term healthy food trend for people and the planet, and that locally grown kelp in the clean, cold waters of Maine compares favorably to crowded Asian waters, the source of 95% of the seaweed consumed in the US. Mitch manages most of the strategic and business aspects of Ocean's Balance. He has learned throughout his career that success comes from being aggressive, continually overcoming challenges, being responsive to customers, creating efficiencies, and sweating the details.

Mitch is on the Board of the Nature Conservancy of Maine. He earned a Master from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and a B.A. from the State University of New York at Binghamton.

DSC_0522.jpg

Lisa Scali, Director of Sales & Marketing 

Lisa is a foodie at heart, growing up in an Italian family where food was the glue that bound everyone together, and living for years in France where she savored the cuisine with devout reverence. Having spent 20 plus years developing strong relationship and marketing skills in senior sales positions for large companies in complex industries, Ocean’s Balance has provided Lisa with a platform to unleash her tenaciousness and sales skills in a business that she feels incredibly passionate about that combines her love of food and protecting the environment. Besides building strong relationships with retailers, chefs, and distributors, Lisa loves creating new seaweed recipes and experimenting with new products. In addition to her sales and culinary abilities, Lisa developed some strong organizational skills working for multinationals, ones that help keep Ocean’s Balance operating efficiently. She also can be seen out on the water in the middle of winter helping Tollef on the farms, which is a far cry from dining in a Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris, but more rewarding in other ways.

Lisa earned a Master in International Political Economy from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and a B.S. in Economics and French from Lehigh University.