BOSTON — Freight Farms, the global innovation leader of containerized vertical farming with the world’s largest network of IoT-connected farms, announces today that it has hired veteran consumer brand executive Rick Vanzura as CEO who will also join the company’s Board of Directors, while cofounder Brad McNamara will remain as Freight Farms’ President. The company also welcomes automation and robotics specialist Jake Felser as Head of Engineering.
The need to simplify supply chains and ensure reliable access to healthy, traceable food at a local level has become more crucial for communities worldwide. Expansion of Freight Farms’ team follows a year of strong momentum for the company as forward-thinking organizations, particularly at the institutional level, recognize the benefits of a secure, distributed, and transparent food supply. As the company scales for growing demand at speed, expansion of Freight Farms’ leadership is positioned to quicken new extensions of its technology platform and deepen market reach.
“What excites me about Freight Farms is the ability to join a passionate, mission-driven business that is already perfectly positioned to address the growing critical need for sustainable, hyper-local food production,” says Vanzura. “Freight Farms has an incredible technology platform as the originator of container farming, as well as a global footprint driving numerous sources of value. Beyond providing a meaningful solution across industries, Freight Farms’ innovation addresses issues like urban land scarcity, traceability and the need for hyper-local solutions with speed to market. The current environment demonstrates more than ever the value of Freight Farms’ offerings.”
Vanzura has driven value for companies from start-up to Fortune 5 across technology, restaurant, retail, and entertainment sectors. With a focus on leveraging innovation and developing new market channels, he led strategy for Panera, General Motors Information Services and GameStop, and as the original CEO of Wahlburgers, he built the company from a single unit into one of America’s fastest growing restaurant brands. Vanzura’s 20 years in President and C-level roles include a decade in foodservice working with markets central to Freight Farms’ business. He also brings significant international experience to his role, having run Borders Group’s nearly $1 billion International business.
“As cofounders, Jon Friedman and I have taken Freight Farms from an idea to help decentralize the food system to being the leader in containerized vertical farming that’s truly putting the power of hyper-local food production into people’s hands,” said McNamara. “Rick has amplified growth across interconnected industries, and his international experience lends itself to our ongoing global expansion. His personal alignment with Freight Farms’ mission was crucial for us as well—he’s a welcomed addition to the team as we scale.”
“The potential is extraordinary,” Vanzura added, “I’m excited to be working with Brad, Jon and the team on the spectacular opportunities ahead, all while doing our part to help build a better, more sustainable food system for all.”
Jake Felser, former VP of Engineering for eatsa (now Brightloom), has also joined the Freight Farms team as Head of Engineering. With teams across hardware and software, Felser led robotics R&D and the development of eatsa’s shelf-style pickup system from conception to deployment across the company’s network of partners. Prior to eatsa, Felser was Senior Engineer and Product Manager at Cooper Perkins and has worked in hydraulics, refrigeration, structural optimization, design for development, and agriculture for companies including Blue Origin, Promethean Power Systems, and AGCO. With a passion for sustainable development, Felser is focused on automation, IoT and machine learning-based integrations for Freight Farms growing technology portfolio.
Company growth, including ten new roles across all departments in Q1, also follows Freight Farms’ recent launch of the Greenery. Nearly 100 have been adopted by customers in 9 countries to date, bringing Freight Farms’ global footprint to more than 300 container farms around the world. The innovation also spurred interest from Sodexo in a strategic national partnership to grow food onsite at educational and corporate campuses nationwide and new investment from Ospraie Ag Science.
About Freight Farms
Founded in 2010, Freight Farms debuted the first vertical hydroponic farm built inside an intermodal shipping container—the Leafy Green Machine—with the mission of democratizing and decentralizing the local production of fresh, healthy food. Now with the Greenery and integral IoT data platform, farmhand®, its technology empowers people anywhere in the world to grow more than 500 varieties of pesticide and herbicide-free produce, from leafy greens and herbs to root vegetables and vine crops, with 99.8% less water—onsite, year-round. Freight Farms’ network of IoT-connected container farms is the largest in the world, with more than 300 operating in 25 countries and 44 U.S. states. Customers range from small business farmers to the corporate, hospitality, retail, education, and nonprofit sectors. To learn more, please visit freightfarms.com, or visit us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.