Tony Hayes, a producer and marketer of North American wildcrafted herbs, has passed.Ridge Runner Trading Companyremembered Hayes in a Facebook post, sharing, "It is with a heavy heart we announce the unexpected passing of our Founder and CEO Tony Hayes. Tony’s immense knowledge and experience will be a huge loss to the herbal community. Tony’s wife Sandy Hayes, and children Josh Hayes and Casey Vincent are continuing Ridge Runner Trading Company, as they have all be greatly involved in the business since it started in 2000."

TheAmerican Herbal Products Association(AHPA) published a tribute to Hayes, sharing his contributions to the herbal products industry. Hayes' career in the industry spanned almost five decades. He got this his start in 1973 as an herb buyer for Lowe Fur and Herb of North Wilkesboro, according to AHPA, then began working for Wilcox Drug Company in Boone, NC in 1981 before co-founding Ridge Runner Trading Company with his wife Sandy.

Tony Hayes, 1955-2020. Image courtesy of AHPA.

AHPA highlighted the many leadership roles Hayes held, including his service as the co-chair of AHPA's Non-Timber Forest Products Subcommittee, a position he held since the subcommittee's founding in 2005.

"We are also grateful for Tony’s ongoing generosity as he and his company have been consistently strong supporters of many of the research projects undertaken by the AHPA ERB Foundation," AHPA shared in thememoriam. AHPA added: "Tony was a virtual warehouse of knowledge for herbal data, keeping records on things like the quantities and quality of herbs produced in any given year, and he shared that knowledge freely with all of us, making it available just for the asking. He was the person about whom people would say, 'Call Tony, he’ll know.' We will all miss him."

Tony Hayes is survived by his wife Sandy, his three children, sons Noel and Josh and daughter Casey (Vincent), and five grandchildren, with a sixth on the way. A Celebration of Life will be held in honor of Hayes in the coming months. AHPA shared that, in lieu of flowers, the Hayes family requested that donations be made to their local botanical garden, The Daniel Boone Native Gardens of Boone, NC. Memorial donations can be submittedhere.