Founder and COO

Dan Smith runs operations and manufacturing for Polar Sapphire.  He has broad manufacturing and management experience in companies ranging from small startups to medium sized companies, both privately held and publicly held.  Dan has run operations and scaled companies from small private companies to large publicly traded ones.  Dan was instrumental in advancing the technology at 6N Silicon, where he designed the factory as well as designed and procured the equipment to expand into a 100,000 sqft manufacturing facility.

Board Member

Charles Cherington co-founded Ara in 2017, co-heads the firm alongside Troy Thacker, and is a member of the firm’s Investment Committee. He has more than 25 years of private equity experience in the industrial, energy and chemical industries in which he has executed over 50 transactions. Charles’ ten most recent investments have all targeted carbon reduction in the industrial and chemical industries.

Prior to co-founding Ara, Charles founded Intervale Capital in 2006 after successfully managing two smaller private equity firms focused on industrial buyouts. Charles previously worked for Lochridge & Company, a strategy consulting firm. Prior to that, Charles worked for the Vietnam Fund in Hanoi and Saigon. After graduating from business school, Charles’ first job was with Credit Suisse, in municipal finance.

Charles holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Wesleyan University and a Master of Business Administration, with honors, from the University of Chicago. Charles has long been active in the land conservation movement. He serves on the Board of Directors of The Conservation Fund, a national land conservation organization. Charles and his wife Ashley have donated more conservation easements in the State of Vermont than any other individual or private entity.

R&D Manager

Iman Zargaran holds a master of degree in materials engineering.  He has over 10 years of materials development experience in different industries, including advanced materials, catalysts industries and nano-materials.  He started his career as a project analyst by participating in feasibly study of advanced materials projects.  He was in charge of process design and materials development of an alumina based catalyst production plant (2500 tons/year).  He has proven skills in developing ideas and products modifications in R&D departments and has developed several commercial products and equipment for chemical and oil industries.


Sean Doherty oversees the Finance and Administration for Polar Sapphire.   Sean brings over 25 years of financial leadership across a wide variety of industries.  Most recently, Sean has led the finance teams in both large and small organizations, as well as private and public companies.   He spent 13 years with Navtech inc., being promoted from Director of Finance/Corporate controller to CFO, as well as playing a key role in its acquisition by European industrial leader Airbus, where the company merged with existing Airbus divisions to become Navblue, and led the financial integration into Airbus. He has experience in strategic planning, accounting, treasury, and M&A, as both a purchaser and a seller.  He is a designated Canadian CPA.

Founder and Chairman

After graduation from university, Scott Nichol started a secondary aluminum smelter to recycle scrap aluminum.  Scott then joined Cymat where he developed and scaled up a new process for manufacturing aluminum foam, and was a member of the management team that took the company public on the TSX.  Scott then founded 6N Silicon which developed a new process for purifying silicon for use in Solar Cells.  6N Silicon was sold to Calisolar in 2010.  Scott then was the COO for Jaco, a Chinese solar company, before starting Polar Sapphire in 2013.

Hap Hewes joined Polar Sapphire as CEO in June 2022 bringing over 25 years of leadership experience in the specialty materials industry.  Polar Sapphire is Hap’s fifth early-stage company involved in high growth markets and technologies for materials, ceramic products, and equipment.  He has significant HPA market experience, specifically in downstream uses of HPA to grow sapphire for use in LED, aerospace and defense, semiconductor processing, medical, and optical end markets.

Before joining Polar, Hap was President and CEO at Pallidus Inc., a high-growth specialty materials company utilizing disruptive and proprietary technology to grow ultra-high quality silicon carbide crystals. He previously held senior management roles focusing on strategy, sales and business development, operations, and customer relationships at Rubicon Technology, Saint Gobain, ARC Energy, and Saphikon. Mr. Hewes has an MBA degree from the University of Michigan and a BS in biology from Cornell University.Type your paragraph here.

Board Member

Tuan Tran is a Managing Director at Ara, is a members of the Firm's investment committee, and is involved with all aspects of the firm’s investment process. He has over 20 years of experience in private equity, investment banking and equity research.

Prior to joining Ara, Tuan was a Partner and a member of the Investment Committee at Intervale Capital (“Intervale”), a $1.3 billion firm he helped build over 15 years. As a Founding Member of Intervale, he led numerous M&A assignments, equity issuances, and debt financings. He was instrumental in developing the firm’s strategies around environmental services, industrial services, energy technology, growth equity and combination investing. While at Intervale, he also spearheaded recruiting, firm building, fundraising and implementation of portfolio management best practices. Across three funds, he served on the Board of Directors for over 15 portfolio companies.

He started his professional career in Lehman Brothers’ Investment Banking Division, with assignments in New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Tuan earned a BA with honors from Harvard University. In his spare time, he volunteers for “Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly” and serves as a Mentor for the Harvard Alumni Association.