Ag Careers Spotlight: Food Equipment Sales Specialist

David Hayden was born into an Owensboro farm family. Since he was familiar with the art and business of commercial beef and poultry production, he decided to study animal sciences at Murray State University.

It was not until his senior year, however, that he discovered his professional calling.  An exchange program with Oklahoma State University introduced David to the study of meats, and he knew he wanted to learn more.

David returned to OSU and earned his master’s degree in meat science, which led him to a successful career in the food industry. He is currently a regional technical sales manager for JBT FoodTech, a company headquartered in New York. David resides in Mercer Co. and covers a region spanning from Tennessee to Michigan and east to Virginia.

David’s primary role is to work with customers to develop and utilize meat processing and cooking equipment. These tools are used for processes such as marinating, portioning, cooking, and freezing.

He said the most rewarding part of his job is being a part of product development and then seeing the product on the shelf. He also enjoys working with various companies and gaining experience from all the different sectors of the meat industry; David works with beef, pork, poultry, deli meats, and even fish.

David also said that his animal science education and farming experience have been very valuable. 

“Farmers don’t think about what happens after the animals leave the farm,” he said, “and food companies may not think about factors that affect meat characteristics. That bothered me.

“I’m trying to bridge the gap by understanding and communicating the full process, from ‘baby to box’,” he continued.

David does wish he had a better idea of what he wanted to do sooner so he could be more focused in his education… and he said he should have spent a little more time on chemistry. He also reminisced about his scary decision to leave Murray State, where he was an agriculture student rock star. At the much larger OSU, he said he was a “nobody.”

“My advice to young students is don’t be afraid to think outside the box and take risks,” he concluded. 

But following his dreams and stepping out of his comfort zone paved the way to a fulfilling career. Aside from working in agriculture, David is also a great advocate for agriculture and agricultural literacy. 

Learn more about David Hayden on his agriculture advocacy blog

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To learn about earning an Animal Science degree, check out these Kentucky schools:

University of Kentucky
Western Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University
Murray State University
Kentucky State University
Morehead State University

The University of Kentucky also has a Food Science Program and courses in Meat Science