Our team

How does UMC maintain its position as a top 75 Distributor in a modern world, while embracing family values? By having 3 integrated Business Units (Colorants, Deposition Products, and Additives), along with a Cosmetic and Food & Beverage Division that allows us to deliver on what we promise to both our customers and suppliers.


Phil Befumo

Educated as a “Duke” from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA, Phil spent ten years with Orient Chemical in charge of their solvent soluble dyes, charge control agents and pigment dispersions.

He managed the domestic production of Nigrosine (Solvent Black 7), as well as those products that were imported by Orient.

Phil is currently a member of the SPE, NPIRI, ASTM, Board member of CPMA and the President of the Photoluminescent Safety Association.

During Phil’s 26-year career with UMC, he has had the chance to manage each of the 4 individual Business Units at UMC (at one time or another).    He is currently the President at UMC.

Chief Operating Officer

Zelos Hill

Zelos completed his undergraduate degree in Accounting in 2007 as a Hoya from Georgetown University McDonough School of Business. Upon graduating, Zelos began a 14-year long career with a Russian owned petroleum trading company where he held roles in Trading, Finance, Risk Management and Middle Office, ultimately as the Head of Middle Office. He completed his MBA in 2014 from New York University Stern School of Business with a specialization in Business Analytics and Change Management. In the summer of 2021, Zelos joined UMC as the Chief Operating Officer.

Zelos resides in Westchester, NY with his wife and two daughters who motivate him everyday!

President Emeritus

Mike Sansonetti

Mike completed his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry in 1976 from Fordham University.  With a minor in Education, it was always his thought to teach the Sciences and coach.  In 1976, Mike decided to join ASARCO Inc (American Smelting and Refining Company) as a salesman in their by-product’s division.

After three years, he left to be an Assistant Sales Manager in the Chemicals and Pigments Division of a small importing company in lower Manhattan.  40 years have gone by since joining UMC, and several job positions along the way brought him to the Presidency in 2015.

In July of 2022, after 7 years as President, Mike has taken on the role of President Emeritus at UMC.  He will continue to be involved in company culture and mentoring the new group of UMC personnel that will take UMC into the future.

Golf, youth sports & pin collecting are his hobbies.  And, although drawn to his family in Tampa, Fl, Mike has indicated he has no plans for retirement….yet!

General Manager

Dave Kotowski

A Falcon from Bowling Green University (and a catcher on their Division I Baseball team), Dave graduated in 1980 with a BS degree in Business Administration, specializing in Sales and Sales Management.

His business career at Ashland Chemical.  From a Technical Sales Rep in the early 80’s in their Akron, Ohio location, to General Manager of the Lansing, MI location in the mid-80’s, then Back to Cleveland in the late 80’s where he was responsible for a $30 million operation as the GM.  He ventured into Specialty distribution in the early 90’s as a Vice President and Partner with Palmer Suppliers.  However, he is most well known as a full Partner and GM of Specialty Chemical Sales for 20 years.

Customer Service Manager

Joanne Slevin

Joanne was one of the lucky ones who knew what type of career path she wanted to take when she was in high school.  She graduated from high school and two weeks later started her working career at United Mineral & Chemical.

Joanne began as the Pigments Division secretary and shortly thereafter, was promoted to Customer Service for that same division.  She had great mentors that helped her learn logistics and customer/supplier relations.   After 30 years as the Pigments Division Customer Service Rep., in May of 2018, Joanne was promoted to the newly created position of Customer Service Manager.

Regulatory Manager

Preston Hykes

An NJIT Highlander, Preston sports a BS in Chemical Engineering and a Six Sigma Black Belt Certification.

He has 30+ years’ experience in industrial production supervision and plant engineering; both specialty chemicals and solids processing.

His background includes safety and environmental compliance program management, employee training, and primary liaison with regulatory authorities.

Colorants Business Unit Key Account Specialist

Joe Mele

Joe earned his BS Degree from St. Joseph’s College NY, and his post-graduate (MBA) at Fairleigh-Dickinson University, NJ.

He started his career in the ink industry with Lawter International in 1980’s selling phenolic, polyamide, poly-ketone and hydrocarbon resins, as well as, fluorescent pigments, alkyds, waxes and oleo-resinous products. From 1990-2010 he was National Sales Manager at Var-Chem Products selling oleo-resinous products.

In 2010 he joined ALLNEX as a Global Account Manager responsible for sales of UV resins, oligomers and monomers to the coatings and graphic arts industries.

UMC Ingredients General Manager

Marty Towey

Marty graduated with a marketing degree as a Golden Bear from Western New England University in Springfield, MA.

At his first job out of school, Marty became a manager with the CVS Drug Store retail chain. Eventually while running it, that store became a top 10 store in the company. While at CVS ,he was promoted to Training Store Manager and enjoyed hiring and training future managers for them.

Marty joined EMD/Merck and worked there for over 18 years. During this time, he was employed in various divisions including pharmaceutical, nutritional and eventually the industrial and pearlescent pigments group. His roles accelerated from Marketing Coordinator, Sales Analyst, Product Manager and eventually Key Account Manager for their start-up distribution network. He pioneered special projects such as ISO and SAP.

He moved from the manufacturing side of chemicals and pigments to the world of distribution and joined UMC in 2015.

UMC Ingredients Sales Manager

Chris Gratch

Chris graduated from Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He spent a year in technical sales for a flow meter manufacturer in South Carolina before joining Ashland Chemical.

At Ashland, Chris spent two years as the Plant Supervisor in Cincinnati, OH. He then joined Ashland’s Engineering group in Columbus, OH managing projects at manufacturing and distribution facilities across the US. Chris had numerous roles in management, engineering and organization orthodoxy before becoming the youngest Plant Manager in the company taking over two distribution facilities in Philadelphia, PA.. Chris then joined Ashland’s Fine Ingredients Division as a Supply Manager and was responsible for managing supplier relationships and negotiating distribution agreements for the Food & Beverage and Personal Care businesses.

Chris then moved to Atlanta, GA as the Southeast District Manager for Ashland’s Ingredients Division. In 2004, Ashland sold the Food Ingredients Division to Mitsubishi. Chris became the Eastern Regional Manager for Mitsubishi and managed the Corporate Accounts Team.

In November of 2009, Chris left Mitsubishi and joined a recently purchased company by the ICD group called JRS International. Chris was the General Manager of JRS, which now will be married into the newly formed Ingredients Division of UMC.

Additives Business Unit Manager

Aida Pleho

Aida, with her mom, and dad immigrated to the USA in 1994 from war-torn Croatia. The Pleho family traveled light, bringing a little more than the clothes on their backs. Aida quickly adapted to the US and learned English by the age of 7. As a young adult, she helped her family establish a business in South Jersey prior to attending the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Aida, another Highlander, graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 2016. During her time at NJIT, she excelled in subjects such as organic chemistry, biotechnology, technical writing, thermodynamics, and designing of a real chemical plant. Along with chemistry classes, she took courses such as business management, marketing, and intro to finance. Besides her affinity for chemistry and engineering, her business classes ignited a creative spirit in the world of marketing.

We discovered Aida at a College Fair.

Additives Business Unit Sales

Ed Tysl

A real ZIP from the University of Akron, Ed was a Business Major with concentrations in Marketing.

Ed has been a true warrior in the Chemical Sales business, with stops at JH Hinz, a Cleveland based distributor, and Laporte Pigments (later to become Rockwood, now Huntsman). Then on to Itochu Chemicals, a Japanese corporation based in Tokyo, and involved with the importing and exporting of products produced by such well known Japanese companies as Toyo Aluminum, Mitsubishi Gas and Nippon Shokubai.

His last stop before coming to UMC was with Matteson Ridolfi for 10 years. There he principled such lines as those produced by Cabot Corp., Hexion, and Eckart Effect pigments.

Additives Business Unit Sales

Noel Kavanagh

Noel was born in Ireland and came to America in 1991. He worked in logistics for Kraft Foods, Circuit City and CSX Railroad.

He joined JLM Chemicals, Tampa FL in 2000. He initially wanted in the purchasing department, then moved into sales; which involved Industrial, Food, Pharma and Performance Chemicals.

From 2012 to 2018 he worked for F2 Industries and became well known for his expertise in the area of Water Treatment and Pool Chemicals. In 2018 Noel joined UMC to play a key role in our water chemistries business.

Deposition Products Business Unit Manager

John Braun

John has an Associates of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has had Lead Quality Auditor Training in both ISO 9001 and ISO 13485. He is a Certified Project Management Professional.

Before joining UMC, John worked in the highly regulated healthcare industry. During his
19-year tenure at Siemens, he held positions in Design, Manufacturing, Quality, and Procurement. In his final position as Global Commodity Manager he was able to use his experience to partner with his 157 managed suppliers to maintain year over year cost reduction on the purchase of manufactured metal products.

John also holds 7 US patents for maxillofacial surgical equipment among other mechanical products.

Holding various leadership positions has enabled John to further organize our Metals Group, and now take over our new Deposition Products Business Unit.

Deposition Products Technical Sales

Claudio Goncalves

Claudio has a BS in Industrial Technology and Electronics.

He worked for 6 years in the Biomedical Industry for Hudson Robotics. Claudio worked in systems services for Hudson, who is a producer of molecular biomedical automation equipment.

He spent 8 years in the Semi-Conductor Industry at Rudolf Technology, a manufacturer of metrology equipment. There, Claudio was involved with worldwide technical support, whereby he would perform upgrades and service on the various systems.

Deposition Products Business– Sales

Tom Kocovic

Currently a member of our Deposition Products sales force, Tom came to us from the New York City Board of Education where he was the assistant to the Stationary Engineer.

During his time there he coordinated daily operations at The Roosevelt Educational Campus.

He graduated from Manhattan College in Riverdale, NY with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering in 2018.

Additives Business – Operations & Sales

Michael Prelevic

Hired in 2004, Michael was working for the plywood division of ICD, formerly known as IPC.

He was in charge of bringing in new business, entirely from overseas customers. Over the years, Michael became more involved with the ICD Metals unit before finally joining the UMC Additives team in 2020.

His current role with UMC is Operations Management and inside Sales.


UMC Corporate Headquarters located at 160 Chubb Ave. Suite 206, Lyndhurst, NJ 07071
+1 (201) 507-3300




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