Harrisonburg’s Farmer Focus hires CFO, R&D head
Debarshi Sengupta comes from Clarity Food Ventures; Sean McLendon from JBS USA
Harrisonburg-based Farmer Focus has hired Debarshi Sengupta as chief financial officer and Sean McLendon as head of research and development, it announced on Aug. 26 and Sept. 9.
“Debarshi is an instrumental hire to guide our future, creating a strategic path forward to plan and resource our tremendous growth,” Farmer Focus president and Chief Operating Officer Erik Vaughan said in a statement.
Sengupta will oversee finance and accounting, financial planning and analysis and other financial aspects of the company. He most recently worked with Clarity Food Ventures LLC, a consumer packaged goods startup that he co-founded. Prior to joining Clarity Food, Sengupta was an executive vice president overseeing mergers and acquisitions, strategy, investor relations and financial planning and analysis at JBT Corp, a food processing machinery provider. He was also division CFO of the company’s FoodTech Protein segment. Before joining JBT Corp., Sengupta was an investment banker at Banc of America Securities LLC, now Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
“Growing up in the city, I was unaware of the challenges of our food system and how critical farmers are to the future of our food supply,” Sengupta said in a statement. “Joining the Farmer Focus team will enable me to use my experience and talent to help transform an industry and be an example of how food companies can create meaningful and lasting change.”
Sengupta holds a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a master of engineering management (MEM) from Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering.
Sengupta succeeds Dan Detamore-Hunsberger.
McLendon was previously the senior director of research and development at JBS USA Holdings Inc. Before that, he was head of research and development for Lumina Foods LLC. He also worked in research and development for CraftWorks Holdings Inc., now owned by SPB Hospitality. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and in 2009 was nominated for a James Beard Award when he was the owner and chef of Sean’s American Bistro.
“As a chef, I have always had the deepest respect for farmers,” he said in a statement. “So working for a company that is committed to the preservation and promotion of generational family farms is incredibly meaningful to me. One of the best ways I can honor our farmers and the birds they so carefully raise is to develop products and flavors that bring out the best in each part of the bird.”
McLendon led the development of Farmer Focus’ pre-seasoned product line, which includes Peruvian, Chophouse, Red Curry, Toasted Lager and Lemon and Cracked Pepper chicken products.
“In addition to his passion for the Farmer Focus mission, Sean brings an abundance of talent and experience to this critical role,” Farmer Focus founder and CEO Corwin Heatwole, said in a statement.
Founded in 2014, Farmer Focus is an organic chicken processing company with a mission to protect and promote generational family farms. The company currently works with more than 70 family farms and has more than 100 more on a waiting list. Its chicken is available in 2,500 stores on the East Coast and in the Midwest, including Publix and Kroger.