In this blog Eric Siereveld, CEO of cannabis-seed company Dutch Passion reflects on turbulent times of international expansion, renewed focus on their core activity, and extreme growth.
You joined Dutch Passion in 2018. How come?
Eric: ‘Henk van Dalen, the company owner, was looking for a CEO with knowledge and experience in the field of ‘the green’ and the skills to manage extreme growth. With my background at Wageningen University, my extreme growth-years at Compaq and Hewlett-Packard, ánd my knowledge of the cannabis trade – the industry I was working in at the time – I fit the profile very well.’
What have you achieved in the past few years?
‘We have decided to apply more focus on our core activity, put all our efforts into the sale of seeds and expanding slowly into the international market. Also, in the past few years we’ve started to concentrate on the B2B market. Take a look, if you will, at www.dupacan.com. This is a website with info for our licensed producers, all of them companies who have the right ro grow our seeds in their markets, providing it is legal in those territories. Thanks to this dedicated approach, we now export to more than 50 countries worldwide. Finally, I’ve been busy reorganizing the internal operation, which is now much more structured and professional. Tasks and responsibilities are clear.’
Which activities have been discontinued?
`We no longer sell CBD-oil. That is a specialist’s trade. Also, we stopped selling grow lights. And I’m very happy we did, because it would have been a great hassle to import these products from the US and the Far East during the corona pandemic. Also, we revoked licenses and stopped the export to countries that underperform, or where legal issues obstruct the trade.’
What is your management style?
‘Asking a lot of questions is my main task. Asking people why they do the things they do the way they do. And if there might be a different or better way to do them. In a small company such as this, everything you do has instant impact. Very different from a large organization with multiple management layers – we don’t have those. I thrive in an environment such as ours: solve the problem, reboot and scale up. Because we do wánt to be big – we’ve got lots of ambition. In terms of branding we want to be the Heineken of the cannabis industry. And we’re well on our way. We’re growing in terms of turnover and in terms of colleagues. And we have a great atmosphere, because everyone now has the time to fulfill their tasks. We now have 27 workers. When I started out, there were only 10!’
What is the secret of Dutch Passion?
‘Our heritage – where we come from, since 1987. And, obviously, the quality of the product – people really get very fine products for their money. Finally I would say: the love for the product among our workers. Very few people here look at their work as just a job.’
Just curious… How many seeds do you sell per year?
‘We sell our seeds in small packages of three to five pieces, of course, so it’s hard to tell. I would say we sell about six million seeds per year.’
What will the future bring?
‘I observe an international growth in the demand for medicinal cannabis. For instance, recently, in Thailand, a licence has been issued to produce CBD- en THC-oil. Also, smoking of cannabis is applied more and more in a medicinal way – apparently people with rheuma and Parkinson’s disease benefit from that. We are busy developing specific cannabinoïds, like THCV, which reduces hunger reflex. And in the Netherlands legislators are working on the legalization of cannabis – a beautiful and important step forward. I hope one day cannabis will be legal worldwide.’
Nothing left to wish for?
‘Well… I’m still looking for good partners in Canada and the USA. If you’re interested, don’t hesitate to drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. Goes straight in my mailbox!