Derek Kesek – CEO and Founder of Hempearth Group Ltd.
The dream of Derek Kesek, CEO and Founder of Hempearth Group Ltd., is to create a more progressive society where everyone can live in a culture of abundance. His approach has him creating some of the first hemp products to ever exist in their category. Perhaps the biggest creation is that of the hemp airplane, an aircraft that will consist of no less than seventy-five percent hemp. The final product will be lighter, stronger and exponentially more eco-friendly, all without sacrificing quality or functionality. But why? What led Derek to this, that a hemp plane could be possible? Well, we caught up recently, right before he was about to get on a plane oddly enough, so that he could fill us in on exactly what a hemp airplane is and how it will impact the global future of the world.
Why did you choose to get involved with the hemp business?
I entered this industry because saw that there was a huge opportunity for all of humanity. I’ve been an entrepreneur since 2002, when I opened my first business, an organic restaurant. I was a bit of an activist at the time. The restaurant was well received and I learned a good deal from it. I had some pretty big events happening with what I was doing. For example, I organized a project where David Suzuki, a globally recognized environmentalist, spoke at our restaurant as a guest speaker in front of hundreds of people. That was my first inclination as to how much I could impact the environment if I entered the right space.
Through the creation of Hempearth, I knew we could draw a lot of attention to the plant.
In 2011, I saw an opportunity in the hemp industry and I went for it. I realized I could have a great impact on the earth as a whole, in addition to being able to create a lifestyle for myself. Hemp is an amazing plant. It’s eco-friendly, green and sustainable. It sucks the toxins from the ground and gives us back carbon and oxygen. The Egyptians made great use of the hemp plant throughout their history. In my personal opinion, I think that some of the pyramids are made from hemp. That’s how they could actually move these enormous stones. I’ve picked up a Hempcrete brick. It’s super, super light, but very strong.
Through the creation of Hempearth, I knew we could draw a lot of attention to the plant. We could get people interested in it. We could get kids interested in it and lay the foundation for hemp being part of the world and not such a foreign idea. When I first started out, I saw a lot of people like, “We got to fight this, we got to fight that and we’re fighting.” Fighting doesn’t work. Fighting creates resistance.
What were you doing before you got into the hemp business. How do you think that helped you to where you are today?
I’ve been an entrepreneur since 2002. Since I was a kid I just knew that there was something big I would accomplish when I grew up. I had mixed up dreams and visions about what it might be.
I got the entrepreneur itch while running the restaurant. After we closed, I worked some factory jobs before deciding to go back to school, where I got into social work. I actually saw what the system was like. How they were treating kids and adults. I saw that they are managing their patients by keeping them sick. They’re not curing disease. They’re not curing ailments or anything like that. If you didn’t know any better, you would say they are providing a prison housing for these people. I was in group homes with young children and I saw firsthand how poorly these kids were being feed and taken care of.
Hemp can create over thirty thousand products. And that is just current day.
At lunchtime they were handing out pills that were supposed to ‘help’ the children. Perhaps just as sad is that they didn’t have any real programs that they could take part in. They would take them skating once in a while, but when they got back from skating they would give the children drugs again. So they were really never given an opportunity to get better, rather they were just being babysat. They’re being dumbed down.
I left that pursuit when I saw the value of what hemp could do medically. Almost daily, I was coming across videos and articles that broke down how hemp could help nearly all aspects of society. Additionally, I got an opportunity to meet some very interesting and influential people in the industry. Through all of this, I grew to understand the larger implications of a successful hemp industry. Hemp can create over thirty thousand products. And that is just current day. Who knows how much hemp will be able to help the planet as research continues?
Now you founded Hempearth. What’s the mission of Hempearth? What do you sum it up as?
Our mission is to create global awareness for the hemp plant. That is what drives our brand. We want to create a massive awareness worldwide so when you say, “Hemp.” They say, “Oh yeah! I know what hemp is.” We believe, by creating that knowledge, we will also create a world of abundance for humanity. Everyone deserves to have a beautiful life because abundance is everywhere.
How are you funding the world’s first hemp airplane?
I’ve been funding it myself the last four years. I do a lot of business consulting which has enabled me to fund this project. Outside of my funding, we have raised capital from a number of different sources so far. All those sources will be getting their names on the plane. Beyond that, I have roughly five investors right now banging on our door. We just had to complete a structured business plan to give to them.
Our mission is to create global awareness for the hemp plant.
Can you talk about the ins and outs of the hemp plane? What specific parts of the plane will be made from hemp?
The plane will be built from seventy-five percent hemp and will run on hemp ethanol or diesel. The choice of engine will be made by the consumer, who can choose either a diesel engine or regular engine that will run on ethanol. Ethanol can be made out of all kinds of sustainable plants, like corn or hemp.
The outer structure of the plane will be entirely from hemp (panels, wings, etc.). Inside, items like the seats, fabrics and safety belts will be entirely hemp. Of course, there might be some small little pieces in there that are not hemp, but our contract agreement with the plane’s manufacturer states the plane has to be built from at least seventy-five percent hemp.
It will also run on regular ethanol. That way, if a consumer purchases a plane but can’t get access to hemp fuel, which might happen in the short-term, than they’ll at least be able to pump it with regular ethanol. We’re definitely headed in a direction of hemp fuel, but we wanted to make sure we covered every scenario for our consumers along the way. We have worked with some unbelievable people along the way and we are so excited to be approaching the first flight on Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
Hemp is undetectable by radar, so it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the military was using it in their ships and planes, especially the stealth bombers.
Now what was the main motivation for you? Did you simply wake up and say ‘I want to make a plane out of hemp’? When did that moment happen?
Actually, I was just sitting in my car and I said, “What has no one ever done out of hemp and what creates the most awareness possible in this reality?…Well people really like planes.” And it is true. Kids like planes. Adults like planes. I thought this would be an interest to people of all ages.
I always knew that I would eventually come up with a really good idea, and this was it. I said, “Oh wow! I’ll make a plane.” I did some searching and saw there was a spitfire airplane in 1943 that had a bit of hemp in it and I’m sure that the military is currently using hemp, but they just don’t announce it. Hemp is undetectable by radar, so it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the military was using it in their ships and planes, especially the stealth bombers.
I have a good friend in the industry named Kevin Hodge. He is the owner of a company called Hemp Adobe Homes. They’re building structures out of hemp and he’s got a very interesting ‘honeycomb’ technique. He directed me towards some lighter aircraft companies and I started calling around to talk to them about building this plane. Many of them laughed at me. Finally, I had one that was like, “Ok, we agree with your vision.” Our lawyer put the contract together and I flew down to Florida to sign it publically, so that everyone could follow along with this new and exciting project.
When we launch and our plane is flying over the Wright Brothers memorial sight, I’m sure that it’s going to create a lot more awareness for industrial hemp.
Sure, the hemp plane idea is ‘new’, but I don’t want to put out the impression that I designed this plane. I didn’t start from scratch. The manufacturers already had a design that we thought would work perfect. It’s a great aircraft. It’s sleek, looks great and is obviously creating a buzz. When we launch and our plane is flying over the Wright Brothers memorial sight, I’m sure that it’s going to create a lot more awareness for industrial hemp.
If you had to sit in a room with a critic of this project and compare a typical plane to one made out of hemp. What would be the benefits of the plane made out of hemp?
Lighter, stronger and eco-friendly. It’s green and it’s a sustainable product. Seventy-five percent of that plane will eventually disappear into the ground because hemp is biodegradable. In addition to the hemp application, we have also found an eco-friendly resin we can use in the process. So we are not using the standard fiberglass. Instead, we are using a sap resin because it is a sustainable product and our goal is to create a culture of abundance for the world. We don’t want to constantly suck up resources if we can use other options more responsibly.
Seventy-five percent of that plane will eventually disappear into the ground because hemp is biodegradable.
I was recently at a big conference in Toronto, where I learned that the coal industry is slowly but surely going away. I loved hearing this because it means we are going to stop taking from the earth. Instead of taking, we can grow what we need. I think we should convert all coal miners into hemp cultivators. They’ll just cultivate plants that they can just keep growing, growing, and growing. These plants give us oxygen. They clean our soil and they doesn’t take from the earth. We can keep having a nice planet instead of slowly destroying it.
Is there a timeline on the first flight?
This launch will be the first flight from the memorial site of the Wright Brothers. I booked an airport and we got permission to launch the aircraft from that memorial sight, which is rare. Normally, you can’t launch your plane from this location, but I got permission. These guys, some could have been in their ninety’s, saw the value of what we were doing and gave us an exclusive chance to make it happen. We will not be allowed to have a public event, but we will have a variety of cameras there and a live online stream where people can watch everything as it happens.
What is the longterm goal once the first plane is finished?
This is just a prototype for us to build a larger scale production. After we complete the initial aircraft, we will be create a line of these planes, wholesale a few of them and then approach a bigger producer like Boeing for example. UPS is interested in hemp in their aircraft as well. Someone had to step over this imaginary line and say, “Hey, look at how much better we can do this.” Once we launch and these companies see how useful, cost effective and fully functional these planes can be, you can imagine the people that’ll be approaching us.
What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
Since I was a kid, I have always been self-aware. I always knew that the status quo in our society is not right. Life can be much, much better than this, especially as it pertains to social norm, belief systems and other problems on a macro scale. The way our society is set up right now, you can get stuck doing what you are doing if you are not careful. I always knew I did not want a ‘standard’ job. I was in a band for ten years, did some pretty cool gigs and played with some pretty cool people.
Most people aren’t passionate about what they’re doing so it creates a lot of pain and suffering.
I always caught myself looking around and seeing people miserable, working a job that they hated. I think people should be doing things that they love. Most people aren’t passionate about what they’re doing so it creates a lot of pain and suffering. It creates a poor reality for them and then it creates an unhealthy consciousness, but that’s switching. People are waking up now. They’re saying, “Hey, I don’t have to do this. I’m quitting my job. I’m doing this and that’s it.”
There’s been a huge shift in consciousness since 2012 and the Mayan calendar was definitely right. Something happened in that year where society changed. Social media and global connections became more possible then ever before and I think a part of society that needed to be improved was born.
How about what is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Never give up.
A while back, I was inspired by a gentleman who gave the shortest speech I’ve ever heard. This guy saunters out on stage and everyone was expecting a big speech. Instead, he simply said, “Never give up” and walked off the stage.
How about a favorite book? Do you have a favorite book that you’ve read that you can share with us? Either on being an entrepreneur or just personal?
‘The Nature of Personal Reality’- by Jane Roberts
It basically explains that you create your own reality. Your belief systems combine with your speech to create your reality. I’m creating an awesome one by my thoughts, beliefs and words. I’m very karmic that way. I don’t care who you are, my goal is to help people and that is why I work to create a more positive society for everyone.
If you actually take a minute and look around, there are miracles happening all around you everyday.
Did I hear you say that you make water boards too?
We’re making SUP boards (Stand Up Paddleboards). I started a sub brand called, Hempearth Water. We will eventually cover all water sports, but for now, we started with a SUP board. It’s a new and very interesting concept. Stand up paddleboards is a big industry. They are like a surfboard, but they use a paddle. It is a very fun sport to watch and I will soon have a face to go with this brand. Keep your eye out!
One of the things you said before we started the interview was, “If you put it out there, the universe will make it happen.” What do you mean?
It’s very, very amazing. Miracles happen every moment in peoples’ lives but they are usually pacified by those who experience them. They’ll be, “Oh, that’s not a miracle that electricity is keeping our lights on.” or “That’s not a miracle that I’m waking up and I’m breathing oxygen.”
If you actually take a minute and look around, there are miracles happening all around you everyday. This is where I am at right now. I have been given a chance to help create some of these miracles. These hemp applications benefit everyone.
You’re from Canada. Is Hempearth located in Canada as well?
Yes, I was born and raised in Canada. While the idea for Hempearth originated with me while I was in Canada, I was in Costa Rica about a month or two ago speaking at a big conference called CannaCosta. I spoke in front of a big crowd and I saw a great opportunity to combine our hemp aspirations with what Costa Rica was doing. So we relocated the address of Hempearth to Costa Rica. I would consider Hempearth a global company, however, because I have a collection of quality coworkers who operate all over the globe. After all, cannabis and hemp are turning into global businesses, so you have to be willing and able to cover everything if you want to stay ahead of the game.
This guy saunters out on stage and everyone was expecting a big speech. Instead, he simply said, “Never give up” and walked off the stage.
Have you encountered any issues or setbacks because you are operating on a multi-national level?
No. Everyone is legalizing it. The US is legalizing it. Europe is legalizing it. Britain is just about to legalize it. Costa Rica is just about to legalize cannabis for medical purposes and hemp as well. Nothing is getting in the way. It’s just like a magic carpet ride. It’s amazing.
What do you think about the first hemp plane bring built? Do you think it could revolutionize air travel? Join the conversation and comment below!