Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Published – September 28, 2020
David Hasenauer, CEO
CEOCFO: Mr. Hasenauer, what was the vision when you formed Green Point Research? What is the focus today?
Mr. Hasenauer: The idea is a concept of localization and returning manufacturing here, catalyzing job growth and wealth creation while in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way. It is a timely vision given the current impact of COVID-19 on supply chains. The closed-loop manufacturing idea is a key pillar of the next industrial revolution as we go from a “take, make, waste” industrial supply chain to a more secure one.
CEOCFO: How does that play out with specifics? That is the grand vision. What does that mean day to day for Green Point?
Mr. Hasenauer: Day-to-day, what we fashion ourselves as is biomass originators and processors, which essentially means that we leverage proprietary genetics, hemp genetics, and our logistical capabilities to bring quality crops to market and produce bulk derivative goods for manufacturers and product makers. We are mid to upstream, and we are the connection midpoint between the farmers and the manufacturers. We take that first stage process of hemp and turn it into usable goods that are put into commerce.
CEOCFO: How would you describe quality hemp and how do you know when someone has developed it?
Mr. Hasenauer: It is a multi-faceted approach because there are multiple different types of hemp. Many times, it gets talked about as a uniform crop that you grow for all purposes, but in actuality, it is like corn. There are specialty types of corn; some that are just for ethanol verses, sweet corn for food, verses feed corn for cows, and it is differentiated out because you are growing several types of corn. It is the same thing with hemp. There is a different quality, whether for fiber and textiles and structured goods, whether for food, grain, protein powders, cold-pressed hemp oil, or for cannabinoids, most notably CBD. There is a long value chain in other cannabinoids such as CBN, CBC, and these other compounds that have medical therapeutic effects. However, the market typically defines what quality hemp is, and it is what processors and manufacturers require to get their product to the ideal standard.
More specific to us is the hemp grown in a sustainable, renewable fashion without agrochemicals and other harmful products. That is done in a way that we can still meet our consumers’ needs, but also in a way that is wholly beneficial to our natural environment and makes sure we are good stewards of what we have been given.
CEOCFO: Are many growers taking that approach or is it “get it grown as quickly as possible in whatever way because it is a big market?” What do you find?
Mr. Hasenauer: Actually, what has been a great thing about the hemp industry is that we have been forced into it. Agriculturally, we have set laws and standards and things that guide all kinds of production, but because there are specific labeling and usage requirements for pesticides, herbicides, and the other agrochemicals, hemp has not been through the registration process for any of them, so you cannot use any chemicals. Up until recently, they just did not have anything approved. They just approved the first five or so chemicals, but ultimately, we do not want to use them.
We have developed a process that we think will have an impact not just in hemp, but in all agriculture, and scalable, organic agriculture. Therefore, it has been the nature of a new industry coming to market that we have had to use those organic and wholesome practices, and we do not want to change our rigorous attention to quality. We think it is the right thing to do and ultimately, it can be profitable. You always have bad actors in any industry that want to cut corners in the name of the bottom line, but short-term greed ultimately hurts consumers and can scare them away. Even though you might make a little money now, you will lose a lot of money over the next hundred years of the business. Rigorous quality standards and long-term commitment to support farmers are two of the key pillars that frame our decisions.
CEOCFO: What is happening today at Green Point? Where are you growing? How are you getting from here to there? What is available?
Mr. Hasenauer: We have a seed production greenhouse in Colorado on the Western Slope at a place call Montrose, Delta County. We start by producing our own genetics in house. We do seed production there. Then we have tailored our activity for tropical and subtropical climates, which is why we are located in Florida, and we have developed our strains and genetic varietals to form in those regions. We have a thirty-
We deliver rooted seed starts to farmers that will be transplanted in the fields. We have three pilot farms in Florida; North, Central and South Florida, Boynton Beach, Fort Meade, and Jasper, respectively. We are growing on each of those sites in conjunction with Florida State University, doing the research on the market viability, and it is conjoined with human clinical trials on a proprietary CBD based soft gel that we are comparing against ibuprofen. We have a clinical drug known as Satividol that we are working to bring to market.
The final piece of that is that we have expanded internationally into Colombia, so we have licensure to import/export road produced seeds in Colombia and should have our full-on cultivation permit here soon, as well as extraction and oil processing. We have gotten to attract some great partners down there, so day-to-day, we are continuing to develop that supply chain where we have high throughput drawing capacity to help farmers dry their product and get in an identity-preserved state for developing additional extraction capacity and expanding into fiber and grain markets outside of just cannabinoids. We are expanding our footprint internationally to serve in Latin America and the European Union out of Colombia. Therefore, we have got a lot going on. It has been a pretty explosive growth over the last eighteen months for us, and we are very excited about what we are doing. We are doing good work, so it is a good day at Green Point every day.
CEOCFO: What is the key to staying focused when you have so many irons in the fire?
Mr. Hasenauer: For me, it is trusting my team. It is the same precept I believe about the hemp industry and manufacturing and a localized economy. I try to practice what I preach internally. I want to put trust in my leaders at each of those sites, and I expect them to have ownership and control of their segments and effective communication, not trying to micromanage, but making sure you are properly defining your end state in success and making sure you have people you trust to work through it on their own with limited oversight. It comes into ultimately hiring and team building, but every industry is a people industry. I have been very lucky and thankful to attract some of the best in the business at what they do. We have recruited nationally-recognized talent from Cargill and Justin’s Nut Butter, advanced research organizations funded by the Department of Energy, and agricultural plant breeders.
I have been lucky to have some co-founders that started the business with me that are extremely talented people that have matured from law students with me into incredible business operators and entrepreneurs in their own right. I think any CEO’s goal is to become kind of the CEO of nothing, where you set a system in place with people you trust, and they go forward and do great things. That is really it. It is trust and making sure you do not get distracted. As long as everybody knows the mission and knows their goal within that mission, then you can keep driving towards that focus. As long as I define the end state properly and have a focused vision for the company and the trust is there, then it becomes very easy to manage. If I get distracted and try to go chase every new opportunity or every fly by night thing that people say, instead of focusing on our core competency, that is where you get in trouble. I heard Mark Cuban say once on Shark Tank that “entrepreneurs turn down on opportunity all the time,” and means know what you do and do that very, very well. Then make sure that everybody knows what they have to do and do not try to hold their hands.
CEOCFO: You recently hired a new Chief Marketing Officer. Why now?
Mr. Hasenauer: The scale and the collaboration that we are coming into a new phase and growth level of the business. The industry around us is maturing, and it is not just us engaging with hemp people anymore. We are working with Fortune 50 companies and publicly traded multinationals. We are working with major corporations now that were not previously involved in the hemp industry, and the level of care and diligence required as you move on and have these more sophisticated purchasers is significant. We have to focus on our customers from a B2B standpoint, where we are a B2B company to the upstream, and we have to focus on our consumers and the B2C audience. Communication and messaging to those critical parties is key, and adding a well-respected CMO with the level of credibility needed to engage with these audiences was strategic and timely. The industry still has some kind of a scarlet letter effect from being a cannabis industry, even though it is federally legal and fully authorized by law.
CEOCFO: Why is Colombia a good place to start in Latin America?
Mr. Hasenauer: Colombia offers extremely stable weather patterns, high functioning horticulture and agricultural community, and high access to banking. They have a full federally legal program that is regulated and it is close by. You can be from our office in Fort Lauderdale to our office in Bogota in three hours. Just logistically, because of the established coffee ecosystem, they have great distribution networks through the EU and great human capital down there. That was what initially attracted it to us, it is our team members that we engage that are down there.
One of our boots on the ground leaders down there, our Director of Latin American Operations, is a gentleman named Filipe Robayo, who is the former Chief Commercial Officer for the Colombian Coffee Federation, one of the largest agricultural import/export businesses in the world. Colombian coffee is huge and drank in pretty much every country in the world. To bring in that talent, skillset, and unique knowledge to bring identity-preserved agricultural goods to market in that manner is just something you cannot replicate in other areas.
CEOCFO: What has changed in your approach since you started? What have you learned along the way?
Mr. Hasenauer: I think that leaders probably have a tendency to get self-righteous over a lot of things, and when you feel like you have done well and something does not go right, you cannot blame other people. Holding yourself accountable has got to be the number one thing. Starting really from me, almost eight years ago now, in Green Point, watching it mature from just two people, to three, to five, to now sixty and managing those human interactions.
It is easy for me to focus on myself and doing my job, but if you only have an inward focus you are going to fail. You have got to take care of your people, and you cannot get self-righteous about any failure. Even if you feel like you have done your job, you have to know that the buck stops with you, no matter what. It is your company; you are the leader and that is why accountability funnels down like that in an organization. That is the biggest thing; keeping your ego in check, especially if you experience success. Ego is the enemy.
CEOCFO: Are you seeking funding, investment or partnerships as you move forward?
Mr. Hasenauer: Absolutely! We are always looking for strategic partnerships and potential investment opportunities. The nature of the business is that there are so many new avenues of the hemp supply chain that need to be developed and critical infrastructure. Therefore, we speak out and talk to all kinds of different agricultural organizations about the ability to pivot existing resources into this commodity and how we can harden each other’s existing businesses and diversity opportunities. We are still in the first quarter of this thing. The industry has got a long way to go. We are focused on how our core competency can drive value to those partnerships. However, it is something we do actively and daily, try to find new friends in the business.
CEOCFO: Where do you see the most untapped potential? What industries have totally missed the boat so far?
Mr. Hasenauer: Construction! Construction in the industry is going to benefit significantly from hemp as a feedstock. We are talking about being able to make mold-resistant, renewable insulation. There is a special need for certifications for products that are made out of materials that are totally renewable in under a year. There is achieving patent credit and specialty status. I think that home building and multifamily and these different construction industries are going to see a rapid adoption of hemp-based construction products in the next five to seven years. This is where the ability to simplify these things for hemp to be able to come in as an adaptable replacement to existing products for totally novel construction technologies, which are hard to teach and retrain workers, hemp replaces on a one to one with existing products like plywood installation and other things and are just better for the environment. I think that is the area of greatest market growth over the next five to seven years, from a product standpoint in an outside industry that will benefit from having a relationship with the hemp industry.
CEOCFO: Do people who are focused on the environment recognize hemp?
Mr. Hasenauer: I think they have. We have a lot of environmental activism tied into the hemp movement, primarily as part of the legalization movement That next phase is now the business interests are starting to take note about the economic potential and coupling that with a super heightened awareness for consumer preference for environmentally friendly products. The carbon capture ability of the hemp plant and its robust natural nature makes it a very logical solution to a lot of issues in agricultural and manufacturing supply chains.
Socially responsible investing is up thousands of percentages over the last two decades. People are aware of where their money is going, and people are much more informed as consumers because of the ability to look things up pretty readily. Environmentalists have led that the way to heightened awareness around environmentally friendly products and other industries are expected to follow suit now.
CEOCFO: Why pay attention to Green Point Research?
People should pay attention to Green Point Research because we all too often get assessed as if we are a hemp company, but we are an agricultural biorefinery. While we will have a core competence in hemp, we have a much-heightened value chain throughout several different agricultural seed stocks that will be able to provide both live and manufacturing opportunities as we adapt to a post COVID world.RETURN TO NEWS