Roger Lallemand

CEO of Sienna Agricultural Foods

Roger Lallemand Jr. MD is a thriving entrepreneur, medical professional, and the CEO and Managing Partner of Sienna Agricultural Foods SA. With over twenty years of experience in medical settings, Dr. Lallemand holds a BA in Biology from Harvard and an MD from Duke University. After completing his academic education, Dr. Lallemand founded a medical urgent care practice in 2004. He went on to open an additional four practices and under his leadership, the facilities saw more than 15,000 patients over the course of several years.

Despite having cultivated a highly rewarding career in medicine, Dr. Lallemand also saw opportunities in the business sector. The connections he has made during his years at the clinic brought him to Haiti where he used his research and business expertise to establish large scale horticultural farms to boost the local economy. Dr. Lallemand obtained his certification as a crop advisor in Plant Biotechnology and Precision Agronomy and works diligently to engage with innovative technology and industry-leading trends. Dr. Roger Lallemand specializes in generating revenue growth and conceptualizing new business endeavors.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

Our main crop is papaya. We made an analysis on the local market and out of all the possible produce that local farmers grew, papaya turned out to be very difficult to cultivate. It mostly came from the Dominican Republic. It was a matter of import substitution, which means a crop that can be produced pretty cheap, but can also sell for a high price. It can potentially be very lucrative and you have to choose the lucrative crops since Haiti does not offer crop insurance for farmers.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

In New York, I wake up around six in the morning and work out for an hour and a half at the gym. After I get home, I have my coffee and go over the news for the day. Then my business day starts by going over emails, financial reports sent to me that morning or the night before. That’s where I decide if we need to make any changes in terms of work flow, personnel, or approach. Usually, I get most of that done by about three o’clock in the afternoon.
Once work is done, I give myself time to read. Publications such as Business Reviews or health care magazines, which I’ll go over a few times to check out the latest ideas in terms of innovation and new processes. I especially dig deep in the latest in agriculture news as agriculture is in the process of being revolutionized given the use of AI, drones, and big data analysis. I try to make it a point to maybe call four or five people to keep in touch on a personal level and see how they’re dealing with the pandemic and everyday life. It makes you appreciate the connections you have. Everyone needs to know that they’re appreciated.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I consider myself a student of life. I live in Manhattan. You see so many different business ideas and models out here. You expose yourself to alternative ways of thinking, this brings me back to the reading that I do to keep up to date on the latest developments in healthcare, information technology, and agriculture. At the very least, if you’re willing to see how far people are willing to go outside the box, you don’t need to be scared to think so as well. I love trying out new things without fear because others have done the same and have been successful.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The introduction on the reliance on information technology in healthcare. I just read an article about Columbia Dentistry school integrating dental care records in their hospitals. I think this is so important, because for the longest time, dentistry has worked in isolation of traditional medicine. This is an area where both have to be combined, since inflammation is a major factor in all disease states. When you see periodontal disease, which is connected to inflammation of chronic diseases and occurs in 50% of adults, these people are set up for a higher incidence of strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, and maybe even Alzheimer’s. In fact, the relation to periodontal disease and major pathology has already been documented. So, I’m looking at trends where care is becoming more integrative. It was something I started in the practice I had back in Jersey, where we took care of the whole individual, not just one physical complaint.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

For me, it’s not stopping until you get something done. I can sometimes spend too much time on a task that may not be important in the grand scheme of things. I’m very detail oriented, and an out of the box thinker, and these have helped me become quite successful. It’s taking a holistic approach to tasks that help me generate revenue.
I also love scientific literature. I learned how to read academic research papers during my time in the lab and I can discern the correct information for the answers I’m looking for. Like with Papaya, because I am adept at reading scientific journals and reports, I am able to implement strategies that your typical farmer would not have access to because you would have to be able to discriminate good from bad, scientific literature.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t be scared to speak and voice your opinions. Most people aren’t as discerning or as critical as you would think. If you don’t speak up for yourself, who will?

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I know to be true that life is out there in the universe. I think that whatever you want to call it, aliens or whatever, have been visiting this planet for a long time. Cultures have chronicled the visitations of extraterrestrial beings since ancient times.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Know the numbers. Be very discerning and detail oriented in terms of your costs. Track all revenue. If you have a tech person on board, know what they are doing and understand what they are doing. It’s not enough to be a CEO and operate in your own bubble, know what your chief technology operator is doing so you can provide guidance, understand what they’re doing, or go along with the decisions they need to make.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

When I was working in healthcare, I hired a data engineer to find out where our patients were coming from within Jersey. I realized that if people are traveling forty minutes to an hour away for urgent care, there’s probably a need for a center in that area. That helped me learn what locations we needed to go to, which would guarantee our success. I also made it an important fact to analyze our patients’ demographics, categorize them by disease processes and understand the pathology behind the largest disease groups within our patient population. For example, Chronic cervical or lumbar pain first exists as inflammation of the nerve but this eventually leads to contractures and immobile joints which causes continued aggravated pain. For this reason, we integrated physical therapy and chiropractic in addition to providing interventional pain therapeutic measures. Also when we eventually had a large diabetic population, we got into cardiovascular diagnostics and hired a cardiologist. We did this understanding that chronic pain and chronic diabetics often where not fully evaluated for coronary artery disease or peripheral arterial disease despite pain being a major cardiovascular stress factor for heart disease and higher sugar levels being a major one as well. In short, analyzing the data to help make your business decisions can be so crucial. If you know how to get and use that information, you’re golden.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

The problem I see in myself is that I’m a very empathetic person and when someone else has failed in their role, I take it personally. I come to realize that maybe I did not explain what the person needed to hear, well enough. And for that reason, I make sure to double check to make sure there is as little ambiguity in my vision and how I believe we should get there.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

On LinkedIn, I offer my services to help with new inventions or processes. I really like the home health model. When you look, telehealth medicine is only holding at a five to fifteen percent usage rate. However, it’s estimated that by 2030, this could grow up to thirty percent. I love the elderly and knowing that staying at home is the safest thing you can do when we have Covid running rampant, it’s a really good idea to create a means for the patients to interact with their provider at home.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I would think it’s my gym membership. As we all get older, physical ailments will come in. But for me, my exercising on a daily basis is the key to my mental health and is something I will not compromise on.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

The closest thing I would have to say would be Excel, since that’s how I get my financial reports from my company. It deals with numbers in a way that’s compatible with what I need from it.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

A Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sowell. Sowell is an economics professor and philosopher. He makes you really think about different legislation and how it impacts life of everyday people. For example, one thing he asks is how can politicians decide on laws where if they make the wrong decisions they are often not the ones that are impacted by a particular laws failure. In this comparison, he forces us to at least question and make informed decisions based on our empathizing with the people that our decisions impact.

What is your favorite quote?

‘I wouldn’t be standing if not for my people. They carried me when I could not walk. They covered me in love. They breathed life back into me. I wouldn’t have made it through without them. I will forever be grateful for the people who love me.’ That’s from ‘Leave Her Wild’.

Key Learnings:

  • Be sure and understand what the numbers mean.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up.
  • Take care of yourself and others.
  • Trust in others as much as you trust in yourself.