FARIBAULT, Minn. ― Growing up in Brooklyn, some of George Pastrana's first jobs were at a Burger King in his neighborhood and as a bicycle messenger in the summer.
Now Pastrana has been named as the new president, CEO and board member of Living Greens Farm.
Living Greens Farm, based out of Faribault, Minn., is one of the largest indoor aeroponic farms in the country and produces year-round salad greens, bagged salad kits, microgreens and herbs.
"Pastrana is a commercial leader with a successful record of managing iconic consumer brands for innovation and profitable growth at leading, growth-oriented, market-driven companies," said the press release by the company announcing Pastrana's hiring. "His marketing and operational experience includes Fortune 100 multinational companies as well as smaller entrepreneurial organizations, where he was successful in growing sales, profit and market share."
Pastrana, whose prior position was president and COO of Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Del., said his first job out of college was for Procter & Gamble, where he worked as a plant engineer.
"I got exposed to marketing while working there, and that's where I think I understood what brand building was about, and I developed a passion for it," said Pastrana, who went on to get his MBA with a focus on marketing.
After getting experience in marketing management with a handful of companies, Pastrana took a job as vice president of marketing for Novartis, running a contact lens division called CIBA Vision. He said that's where he learned of his knack for building marketing teams.
"I really got to learn the benefits of selecting great marketers and great teammates," he said of his job with Novartis. "And the sense of what a strong team can do."
He said that work contributed to the division's "strong growth" over the five years he was there.
Pastrana said when he first looked into the role with Living Greens Farm he was immediately impressed by the unique operation in Minnesota.
"Our technology is the future of agriculture for the world," said Pastrana. "It has the enormous potential to transform how the world feeds itself sustainably."
He said concerns of food safety, droughts and global warming are avoided through the aeroponics process of farming that Pastrana said Living Greens Farm has perfected.
Living Greens Farm currently operates a 20,000 square-foot farm in Faribault, which Pastrana said is the equivalent to a 200-acre farm that operates year-round. The company distributes primarily in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin, said Pastrana, with some of its biggest customers being Whole Foods, Walmart, Hy-Vee and Cub Foods.
The plan under Pastrana is to expand that reach nationally.
"We have very ambitious growth plans to serve two-thirds of the households in the United States over the next four years," said Pastrana. "And continuing to innovate, both in the technology that we use to continue perfecting aeroponic farming, but also in new products and expanding our line in offerings to the tables and clients of American consumers."
Growth is the main priority of Pastrana as he takes the lead of Living Greens Farm.
"Leading the company through this phase of growth, coming out of the 10 or 11 years that we've been testing and perfecting aeroponic farming in Minnesota," he said.