Startland News: Olathe lab could harvest Kansas’ first legal hemp harvest
Potential for a high-yield payoff grows with each day as Michael Wilson and James DeWitt inch closer to their first hemp harvest — likely the first in the state in modern times, they said.
“It’s the jumping off point to create a repeatable process,” said DeWitt, co-founder and CEO at United American Hemp. “We’ve learned the technology and now we’re at the point where we feel like we can scale. Even if we get zero dollars for anything that happened with this first harvest, we’ve learned as individuals and as a company what we need to be successful in this industry.”
It’s Round 2 for Wilson and DeWitt — one the founder of a luxury watch company, the other a former COO of a private wealth management firm — who see their Olathe-based lab as pioneering the breeding of hemp plants, production of clones and harvesting of seeds for Kansas farmers.
“People ask me about our backgrounds and how we’re even able to do this. Let’s be frank. No one’s done this before, right?” said Wilson, founder of Niall watches. “So hemp comes online — no farmer, no one has ever done this before. We’re all figuring this out at the same time. The idea that you’ve got to be in the marijuana business or some other business is a total fallacy.”
With DeWitt’s 13 years in finance and compliance, the duo extracts expertise from their previous endeavors to fertilize the soil for United American Hemp’s development, he said.
“I came from a watch business, manufacturing,’ Wilson said. “You’d be surprised by the crossover that you learn from precision manufacturing to precision agriculture — the same general principles about deductive reasoning to get to your answer, utilizing technology and trying to break through and get a solution. But at the end of the day, nobody needs to be an expert when you start.”