By Pete Danko – Staff Reporter, Portland Business Journal
Few Oregon companies have ever grown as quickly as Oregon CBD.
Founded in 2015 by brothers Seth and Eric Crawford, it became an indispensable provider of hemp seeds that farmers could count on to deliver loads of the cures-everything cannabinoid CBD with little in the way of THC, the intoxicating compound allowed in hemp in only negligible amounts.
Oregon CBD sold around $50 million in hemp seeds in 2019 — most of them for a buck apiece — while relentlessly plowing its profits into new production greenhouses, equipment and personnel.
“It has been quite the ride,” Seth said. “There was just no way to predict it. We started this thing with a goal of exploring the diversity of this amazing plant, of getting great seeds into farmers’ hands, and everything has unfolded from there.”
The company will have the capacity to provide seeds for 500,000 acres of hemp in 2020. That’s around a billion seeds, and if prices hold at last year’s levels … well, you do the math.
But if the Crawfords have learned anything about the young hemp industry, it’s that wild market shifts are practically inevitable. The second half of 2019 brought a steady drop in hemp and CBD prices that left many growers and processors in deep trouble.
If it happens to seed prices, the Crawfords aim to be ready. They already sell nationally, and are exploring international markets and are driving down their cost of production.
“Eric's goal this whole time was to get to the point where we could be profitable with prices down to a penny a seed,” Seth said. “So we've got those buildings getting constructed so that we can do that. They're all paid for already.”
One key tool that Oregon CBD acquired last year came at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars: a plant genome sequencer that Seth notes UC Davis, one of the top ag schools in the world, didn’t even have at the time. It will allow the company to accelerate its development of strains that fit different climates and get out in front as different cannabinoids come into and out of favor.
Another big development: Seth and Eric no longer have to do nearly everything, not after the workforce expanded from 13 to 41 in 2019.
“It was both daunting and exhilarating to have very competent people taking over day-to-day stuff,” Seth said. “We're super hands-on. It's difficult to let go — until you see the results and you go, ‘Boy, this is beautiful— and I didn't have to do it!”
Seth and Eric Crawford
Job title: Co-founders
Company: Oregon CBD
What the company does: Provides seeds for growing hemp
Revenue: Not disclosed
Originally published in the Portland Business Journal