This is how Lars Opdam went from farmer to CEO of a benchmark CBD oil producing company, operating in the top layer of the hemp industry:
Lars Opdam is founder and CEO of Dutch Natural Healing (DNH), one of the largest CBD oil producers in Europe. In the EIHA’s new publication ‘Our Stories: The people behind hemp’, we learn how he came to where he is today. As he explains his story, from farmer to CEO of a benchmark CBD oil producing company, operating in the top layer of the hemp industry:
From farmer to oil producer
CBD oil - and hemp in general - are part of a multi-billion euro industry in 2021. Though it wasn’t always as big as it is now. Actually, when Lars Opdam started exploring the plant and it’s potential benefits many years ago; there was (close to) nothing on the market. And while the focus throughout his life hasn’t always been on cannabinoids - Opdam’s journey with hemp was inevitable. As described in ‘Our Stories: The People Behind Hemp’. An elaborate publication by the European Industrial Hemp Association, EIHA. Featuring some of the most important faces behind today’s hemp and CBD industry.
Being born and raised on the farm of his grandfather, the then young Lars Opdam became inspired by his passion and wisdom on harvesting and growing grass. This paved the path towards Lars’ specialization in growing solutions. And while looking for new natural alternatives and perfection, inspired by his grandfather, he learned about hemp.
Lars started to grow hemp varieties such as ferimon and felina32 in his greenhouse in 2003. But it wasn’t until ten years later, in 2013, that he was asked for hemp flowers for extraction by a Lyme-support group. He then quickly got introduced to the extraction process of cannabinoids with alcohol. After testing the extracts on his inner circle and seeing the effects, he had set himself new goals in life. Dedicating himself fully to hemp and CBD extractions from thereon out.
Online CBD sales expand to large retailers
‘Things got big in a very short time’, Lars says in EIHA’s portrait of him. As he quickly ended his own crops to start working with dutch farmers for his starting material. Though this is also the time when the challenges began. As most Dutch hemp farmers turned out to be less reliable than he expected them to be. But by getting up after each setback - ranging from losing customers to losing suppliers - Opdam kept his focus on his mission.
Thanks to this focus, he rapidly expanded his business from the Lyme support group to various online marketplaces, like Etsy. Until he founded his own webshop in 2014, dutchnaturalhealing.com, with which he gathered global reach within no-time. But still, there were improvements to be made to the products and service. Luckily, Lars soon found a Biochemist to partner up with and started to do decent research and development work. This helped him understand the chemical processes inside hemp much better, he describes in EIHA’s publication.
Then when Lars introduced CBD oil to the retail market in 2015, whole store chains quickly filled up their shelves with his products. This move helped double the annual production volume year after year. But then in 2019, the market changed into an aggressive industry. Housing companies with bad ethics, offering more and more products of questionable quality. While at the same time DNH’s turnover halved; after his retail partner dumped Opdam as a producer, the moment he wasn’t needed anymore.
Consumer-focused CBD brand
Though ‘strengthened by the inspiring feedback on our products our consumers gave us’, Lars says, ‘we changed our focus and stuck to our mission’. And with the goal of helping millions of people worldwide on a daily basis, DNH’s CEO and his team were able to keep the drive and motivation. With as a result the company it is today: running an excellent organization producing over 200 SKU’s for respected brands all over the world.
‘We may call ourselves blessed’, Opdam realizes reflecting on the positive effect his products have on the health and well-being of over a million people every day. ‘At the same time, we also feel honored to have played an essential part in paving the path towards the acceptance of CBD in Europe generally’, he concludes.
His adventures in the hemp industry made him learn and develop a set of skills, Lars explains in EIHA’s publication. A set of skills which make him and his team able to quickly ‘adapt to the continuously changing situations in the dynamic world of hemp’, he says. And considering the vulnerability of the average CBD consumer - often ill or looking for alternative medicine. It requires great ethics to grow hemp and produce these food supplements for this group of people, DNH’s CEO says. Concluding his story stating that ‘only one or two companies in Europe can match that image’.
The original story is told by Lars Opdam and published in ‘Our Stories - The people behind Hemp’. A publication by the European Industrial Hemp Association. Curious to read more about Lars, the EIHA or its other members? Click here and download the full publication in PDF.