Today we are honored to interview HempLand USA CEO Richard Waggoner, as he shares the story behind how he launched and scaled his CBD company.
We are thrilled to speak with you today about your company and its remarkable success. Let’s start with an introduction so our readers can get to know you better. Can you tell us a bit about you and your company?
My name is Richard Waggoner and I’m the CEO of HempLand USA. If your readers could see me now, they’d see that I’m definitely not a youngster. I started out in the nutritional supplement industry and have been there for more than 35 years. After hearing about the amazing first-hand accounts of people healing from devastating symptoms with the use of CBD, it definitely piqued my interest. I tried CBD for the first time when I was 66 years old and it surpassed my wildest expectations in terms of efficacy and how it supports your endocannabinoid system to maintain balance within the body. I just thought it was the most amazing compound I’d ever heard of.
The hundreds of scientific journals I began to pour over with mountains of evidence supporting some of the health claims confirmed my intuition. I realized that CBD was the real deal. As a Baby Boomer, I also realized that the government had been lying to us for decades about cannabis being the “devil’s weed”. I could see how, quite literally, everybody could benefit from CBD. I started HempLand USA shortly after that and you could say this company is the culmination of my life’s work. HempLand is my Magnum Opus.
What experiences, of elements of your backstory, helped to motivate or inspire you in your endeavor to start your business?
I got into the industry because I could see CBD’s potential to actually change people’s lives for the better. And there are not just one or two anecdotes of people getting better after using CBD— there are thousands out there. But what really struck me was the vast amount of peer-reviewed scientific papers being published, affirming that there is scientific validity behind all of these incredible healing stories. The science is out there, and it’s abundant and ongoing.
CBD is an extremely active substance with virtually no, or very few, side effects. People are starting to understand that plants have a much wider range of health benefits than we were taught. People are even talking about the potential to combat the debilitating effects of the opioid crisis with the use of something that hasn’t been synthesized in a lab but comes straight from nature. And I’m not saying that as a hippie! I’ve been a steadfast conservative my entire life. I truly believe in the healing power of cannabis.
Can you shed light on some of the obstacles you encountered as you grew your business and how you navigate those successfully?
Some of the challenges I encountered when starting out in the hemp industry included fighting public perception and going up against the government regulations regarding hemp. I started HempLand back in 2014. This was Pre-Farm Bill Era, and this made everything much more difficult, especially with respect to payment solutions. After the Farm Bill passed in 2018, this really opened everything up for us, in that we were able to operate online more freely and get the HempLand name out there. Of course, there are still challenges with the lack of willing merchant processors, inability to advertise CBD on most of the major online platforms, and ongoing frustration with the opaque FDA guidelines.
It’s still somewhat of a nebulous business to be in because you have to be able to pivot and adapt at a moment’s notice. But it’s also very exciting because the massive growth of the industry will make it much easier to operate within loosened parameters in the future as opinions start to evolve on CBD.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product. What did that look like?
Like all the supplements I have developed, it starts with the desire to bring out the highest quality product. First I developed a relationship with who I believed were the best producers of CBD in the country. I already had great manufacturing relationships and a fantastic design team. I believed our trademarked company name and product name was second to none. I set about trying to design a brand that reflected the quality and care that had gone into its development.
What makes your brand or product unique in this emerging industry of CBD?
HempLand USA is unique because we source entirely from the USA. A lot of companies we hear about are sourcing from Asia, South America, or Europe and there is just no way of knowing how safe or pure that product is. We focus heavily on quality control and oversee every step of our growing and manufacturing process, as well as third-party lab testing every batch we sell. We own some of our farms and have a very close relationship with our other farms, which makes us unique in the industry. We are definitely a hands-on company, and that makes it easier for us to have complete control to ensure we are putting out the highest quality products on the market.
Have you ever felt like you had to come up against any stigma around CBD? If so, how were you able to address that?
There is definitely still a stigma around CBD, especially among the older generations. We’ve had 70 years of the government brainwashing us into thinking cannabis is a substance that should be avoided at all costs. Unbeknownst to the public, the government quietly filed a patent for CBD as an antioxidant and neuro-protectant after their own research had demonstrated its stunning effectiveness! I think somebody that’s already made up their mind that anything from cannabis is bad, simply needs to look at the evidence.
Part of what makes HempLand great is that we spend a lot of time trying to educate our customers. We want to make sure they have the most correct information out there, and that it’s information based on scientific facts. We really place a value on education, especially because there is so much misinformation out there right now! Bogus, unsubstantiated claims are a large part of what’s hampering progress in the industry in terms of marketing restrictions.
In terms of the market for your product, what would you say is your target demographic?
We are here to help people and we truly feel that CBD can benefit mostly everybody! A large portion of our current customers is those who have a specific need and are looking for active and sustained relief. Our demographic skews slightly older, because those are the folks in the most need of relief. But what we try to convey is that CBD is for everyone, even for those without an ailment. The biggest benefit of CBD is experiencing the profound sense of well-being that it gives you. Well-being and balance are something that any generation or demographic can benefit from.
What do you do to attract and retain customers?
Customer satisfaction is a very important aspect of how we run our business, so we have several things in place to ensure our customers receive top-notch service. We have a 24/7 customer service phone line so that our customers can reach out to us for service or questions at all hours of the day. What other CBD company has that?! We have a 100% satisfaction guarantee, where any order can be returned within 45 days with no questions asked.
We also make sure our customer journey is a pleasant and easy one, so we’ve recently redesigned our website to make it more streamlined and intuitive. We have a regular email newsletter to build upon our existing customer relationships. We’re very active on social media and encourage community engagement. We also put out regular blog posts that focus on education so that our customers better understand how CBD interacts with their bodies. All-in-all, we put a lot of effort into creating a comprehensive HempLand community so that our customers feel empowered by knowledge and have an overall sense of camaraderie and family.
What has the general reception of your product been, in terms of the feedback you receive most frequently from consumers?
Our customers are very receptive to giving us feedback. We love hearing about how our products have helped somebody. You can feel it in the authenticity of their words. Sometimes they’ll express to us that they’ve been suffering from some sort of ailment and they’ll state at length how much HempLand’s product has helped them. When I hear that, I really feel like I’m in the right business. It reinforces that we’re truly making a difference in people’s lives. Last month we launched a new line of enhanced CBD products that increases the effects of CBD and we have never received this amount of overwhelmingly positive feedback as we have with this new product launch.
Can you tell us about some of your best-selling products and the benefits they provide?
Our best selling product is also our newest product, which we are really excited about. Customers are referring to it as “Super CBD.” The Super CBD they’re talking about is our Cannabitol® Full-Spectrum CBD Oil Enhanced with ECS5™. This groundbreaking product is the first of its kind, that no other CBD company has. If you’ve tried CBD in the past and it hasn’t worked for you, you need to try this product— it’s definitely a CBD game changer.
ECS5™ is our proprietary blend of 5 highly active botanicals that literally supercharges our Full-Spectrum CBD and makes it more bioavailable and effective. ECS5™ has propelled our CBD into a completely new category of “Enhanced CBD” products that are far more effective at supporting your endocannabinoid system than regular CBD. Cannabitol® Enhanced with ECS5™ provides the most advanced endocannabinoid system support available, and it’s only available from HempLand USA.
Are your products third-party lab tested by batch? If so, are you willing to attach and share your lab results?
Yes! We third-party lab test all of our products to ensure potency and purity. We are more than happy to share our lab reports with you and we have them available for public viewing on our website. We believe “Made in the USA” and “3rd Party Lab-Verified” should be the standards by which all others are judged. If you don’t have these, then it’s going to be very difficult to compete in an already overcrowded industry. Our lab reports can be viewed on each product page or at www.hemplandusa.com/pages/lab-reports.
In terms of advice, what would you say to someone who was wanting to break into the burgeoning CBD industry?
I’d say you’re a bit late. The competition is fierce now. If that doesn’t dissuade you, then you’d better be well-capitalized and have one hell of a marketing plan.
What do you think is the key to staying relevant and becoming successful in one of the most competitive industries?
The most important thing is to have a thorough understanding of how CBD actually works. Most CBD companies don’t. With that understanding, you should always be striving to come out with new products that support the endocannabinoid system in unique and powerful ways. It’s all about the endocannabinoid system.
What do you foresee in the future for the landscape of CBD-related products and services?
The future of the CBD industry is that it’s just exploding. CBD is going to grow exponentially and very quickly. In such a competitive landscape, the companies that can offer lab reports, who continue to come out with innovative new products, and have excellent customer service will win out above the rest. Otherwise, you’re just a drop in the bucket.
So, what are some of the exciting next steps for your company? What does the future look like for your business?
The future of HempLand USA is bright. From the feedback and sales we’ve had so far, we anticipate that ECS5™ will become our cornerstone product in which we’ll be most well-known for. We have several new product ideas in the lineup and we project a lot of new growth. We only just began to advertise digitally this year, so it will be interesting to see our business expand from the increased online exposure.
We started out as a mail & phone order business model, so digital is a whole new territory for us! But we’ve been able to expand our team recently and have a lot of faith that the digital route will allot far more exposure for us, even more so than the more traditional marketing methods.