About Us

From the soil to mint oil and everything in between, no one knows mint better. We are mint oil experts. We are Essex.

Essex in a nutshell

We are pioneers in the field of mint, with decades of experience to prove it. So, what sets us apart from the rest? Respect is our core value at all levels – we respect mint, people and the environment. We believe in creating whole oils which require as little processing and reformulation as possible. Our innovative breeding program is what established us and is the focus of our future. We prioritize transparent working relationships and respect the environment and everyone we encounter, from employees, colleagues, growers and customers. And finally, our relationship with Firmenich merges our mint expertise with their perspective and skills to offer a wide and global mint palette, cementing our place as pioneers in what we do.

The people behind the mint

Ankush Agarwal, Managing Director

Ankush was raised in Uttar Pradesh, India immersed in the world of mint. His family was part of the first Indian mint distillery in the early 1970’s and eventually developed a mint company that continues to grow today. After graduating high school, he immigrated to the US and earned a BS and MS in Chemical Engineering and began his early career in the petrochemical industry. This experience grounded him in the critical importance of health, safety and environmental considerations, and was an incredible launching pad into the world of hydrocarbons. In 2004 he began moonlighting in the mint industry, facilitating the sales of Indian mint oils to companies around the world. This path introduced Ankush to Essex and Firmenich, leading to his current role as Managing Director of the Essex Firmenich joint venture. Driven by the ‘kaizen’ philosophy, Ankush is excited about the potential our industry holds for new varieties and applications, constant improvements in quality and safety, and the ways we can develop personally and professionally together. When not at work he spends time with his wife and two young kids, keeps up with an ever expanding reading list and indulges in a passion for commercial aviation.

Stacia Krause Ledbetter, Lead Chemist

Stacia leads the sensory and analytical labs, responsible for ensuring the quality of Essex materials, supporting innovation work, and collaborating with Firmenich teams and customers around the world. At the age of four Stacia decided to become a scientist after seeing Valerie Taylor in a Jacques Cousteau film, driven by a powerful curiosity to learn what lies below the surface of things. The path to the lab became a winding road as she began her professional career in advertising, leading to a stint at a web start-up, and product marketing management for a large technology company. When an opportunity arose to go back to school she seized it and fell in love with chemistry and the lab. Stacia holds dual bachelor’s degrees in communications and chemistry. Outside of work Stacia is an avid fun fact collector, house plant propagator, and is continually trying to interest her kids in the wonders of science.

Matt Fagerness, Purchasing Manager

Matt was raised in Chehalis, WA, at a time when it was an active agricultural region. His interests in agriculture followed with him to university, where he earned BS, MS and PhD degrees in agronomy. After a brief career in the academic world, Matt developed business and professional training skills in the exciting and volatile world of real estate in the 2000-2010 decade. Family and a renewed interest in his passion for agriculture brought him back to the Pacific Northwest, and he joined the Essex team in 2018, bringing with him both a strong background in agriculture and business acumen to help support the needs of the business. Matt’s experience with the French language has also proven to be an asset in working with Firmenich colleagues around the world. When not in the office or traveling to meet with growers or other colleagues. Matt enjoys golf, backyard grilling, discussing world events, and spending quality time with his six pets and his better half.

Emily Carrington, Production Manager

Emily came into the mint world following in her father and grandfathers’ footsteps. Some would say mint is in her blood. The founders of Essex were in her life from the beginning and at the age of 16 she began her mint journey in the Essex lab, handling projects/tasks ranging from reading analytical data to weeding mint beds and everything in between. She took a short break to get her degree in biology and came back to Essex to begin a more professional career. Learning from the founders, Emily progressed into becoming the production manager where she handles production formulations and scheduling, inventory and logistics while ensuring compliance with both food and workplace safety. In her free time, Emily enjoys outdoor activities with her son, soccer, puzzles and keeping up her hobby farm.

Chad Hoffman, Finance Manager

Chad joined the Firmenich and Essex joint venture in 2018 to find new challenges after spending the previous eleven years at a confectionary company. There he started out as an accounting assistant and worked his way up to controller. Obtaining a degree in accounting seemed like a logical path as math was always one of his favorite subjects in school. Chad is also an eagle scout, though ironically he never earned the accounting merit badge in the Boy Scouts. In addition to his passion for numbers, Chad is an general aviation enthusiast, loves roller coasters, and riding motorcycles.

Chris Jenkins, Innovation Manager

Chris was raised in Ohio, splitting his time between the city and his family farm where he first became fascinated with plants and natural systems. This interest continued throughout his life and education, leading to a BS in Environmental Science and Botany, and professional pursuits ranging from urban ecology studies in NYC, managing a native plant nursery in California, and starting his own diversified farm operation in Oregon, which he continues to operate with his wife today. Chris’ relationship with Essex began in 2008 when he began propagating mint plants for Essex’s then recently established breeding program. Fast forward to 2018, when Chris officially joined the Essex team as Innovation Manager directing all aspects of Essex’s mint breeding program. Today, Chris continues to push Essex innovations into the future, focusing on genetic improvements that benefit the company and the mint industry at large. In his free time, Chris loves playing and listening to music, cooking for friends and family, and enjoying the farm life with his wife and two daughters.

Partnering with the best: Essex and Firmenich

Bringing the richest mint portfolio in the industry, along with our innovative breeding program, Essex partnered with Firmenich, who offer flavor and fragrance expertise, application technologies and market insights. By merging the two, we’ve added more cutting edge techniques to accelerate our breeding program.

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Our roots

Essex was founded in 1992 in Salem, Oregon by a team of technical, production, and field managers with a passion and skill set for mint. Our founders were committed to respecting the farmers and the land, trusting that this would lead to excellent mint oil, and they are recognized for their contributions to the mint industry. The foundation of our breeding program can be traced back to them, and we’ve continued to innovate, adapt and build on it in the present day. As a company we have continued to uphold the goal to set the highest possible standard for mint, which we achieve through transparent, sustainable, and innovative practices. With our active global network and ventures into new geographies, we care for people and the earth while challenging conventions of traditional mint oil production.