Hemp Barons 0019: Hemp Traders - Larry Serbin

Larry Serbin started in the hemp industry in 1990 with the formation of *Hemp Traders* to import hemp textiles from china. Larry explains why hemp is superior to cotton and why industries are using it to replace cotton and polyester. Hemp Traders is United States largest supplier of Hemp textiles which has helped them expand into other hemp related products. Larry talks about some of their other hemp businesses and Joy Beckerman continues to enhance the show with her keen understanding of the hemp plant and how it relates to every guest's business.

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Dan Humiston:
Hello everyone. Thanks for joining us for another episode of Hemp Barons. I'm Dan Humiston and today's show really highlights why having joy back Ramon as our host makes so much sense because in addition to knowing so much about the hemp industry she also knows everybody in the hemp industry. So we hope that she'd introduce us to a lot of her hemp industry pioneer friends. And on today's show she does not disappoint. Today's guest has been in the hemp industry since 1990 and amongst other things is the largest conveyer of hemp textiles in the United States. Joy does a great job interview. I love the way she's able to get technical but not be boring. I know you're gonna enjoy this show so let's join Joy's conversation with Larry Serbian from hemp trader's.

Joy Beckerman:
Oh hi Larry thank you so much for being with us today on Hemp Barons.

Larry Serbin:
All right. My pleasure joy. It's an honor to be here.

Joy Beckerman:
And in the interest of full disclosure it's then my pleasure and my honor to have known you for some number of years. Larry you're a true Hemp Barons as former president of the h a as a founder of even the. Or a member of even the first hemp business trade association that existed in the United States which was back the Business Alliance or cannabis hemp in California. And as the largest purveyor of hemp textiles in North America for the last quarter of a century. It's just it's wonderful to have you one you are a true have Aaron.

Larry Serbin:
Larry Well thank you. Thank you so much.

Joy Beckerman:
That's a pleasure and such an honor. So tell me when did you start. And I know it was in the early 90s when did you start hemp traders in Los Angeles and what inspired you to get into hemp at that time.

Larry Serbin:
All right. Well I actually got involved in the hemp industry after the 1990s after I graduated college and I had read The Emperor Wears No Clothes and I decided I wanted to do and hemp look back in the early 90s there was absolutely nothing available to join the organizations like the Business Alliance for commerce and hemp and to go to meetings and meet people. And I finally made the decision that the really the only available product or one of the only available products in hemp I could buy and sell once hemp Miles and it's around that time became available from China. So around 1993 or late on order to I left the business alliance for commerce in hemp and in January 93 I formed some traders with my very first shipment of fabric did not actually arrive in Los Angeles from China for the summer of 1994. I'm Sergeant Summers 1993 and a kind of healthy or basically the company didn't really support until I was showing the fabric which was basically January 1st 1994. So I've been in business for about one two or twenty 25 years now.

Joy Beckerman:
Wow. And when you first started in with those first hemp textiles was it one blend. Was it a basic canvas. Did you have a couple of different types of fabric at the time. What did you start with.

Larry Serbin:
When I started I didn't have a lot of money. I just graduated college. I had a little job. I was working at the laboratory. I a little bit of money that I inherited from my grandfather when he passed away. And it was only about seven thousand dollars. And with that little bit of money I can only choose one and hemp fabric to deal with and that group was hemp cotton twill It was my idea was people to start buying not making cheese and now the first redefine and I think that other people wouldn't be interested in making cheese from our hemp. So I think the article 1 does not Donald argued for probably a good oh about nine months or so I was always someone that fabric. And it wasn't until probably around 1995 that a few other people began to import hemp Jalbert and I began to buy from them and offer their fabrics as well.

Larry Serbin:
So it wasn't until then I had even more designers fabric and we're going to go back to the history and the evolution of the products that you carry.

Joy Beckerman:
And thank goodness. I mean you are the fiber King and we wouldn't even have been able to educate people and give them samples and things in our exhibit table for them to touch and feel it's not for hemp traders but coming up to the present moment just for a minute as it relates to textiles specifically. How many different blends of fabrics would you estimate that hemp trader sells today in 2019 some twenty five years later.

Larry Serbin:
Well more now on our regular long work up to about 75 different hemp textiles. And then if you add those on average the shelves are probably about maybe not on different fabrics altogether.

Joy Beckerman:
Such a huge blend and I know that I call it post prohibition technology right in nineteen eighty seven or so China figured out how to deal eliminate or dig down hemp 5 or so separating the linen which is that picky property of plants that gives gives them their rigidity and protection removing that from the fiber bundles. And that allowed the ability for hemp fibres to be blended in. Any number a limitless amount of fibers from the most toxic synthetic into the most natural organic fibers and I imagine that that had you know has had a huge impact obviously on a selection that are available at my correct.

Larry Serbin:
Right. Yes we actually have. You're talking about the technology to remove written in which a basically was separated and hemp fibers you made some finer softer a little more like regular women around us can now have the fabrics that are forced hundred present hemp and wonderful content. Hemp under the cell hemp blundered when it comes to cell hemp. Was recycled polyester and around late 90s and early 2000s China finally figured out how to knit with the hemp yarns from around us how flapper type hemp Jersey hemp please Hemp Barons carry.

Larry Serbin:
We greatly expanded the amount of products that could be made with the hemp textiles what we sell.

Joy Beckerman:
And while we're sitting here talking about textiles it's obviously as as a cornerstone and a foundation of hemp traders tremendous offering of fiber product and raw fibers frankly. Could you tell the listeners a little bit about what makes hemp a superior textile to inferior a cotton and b synthetic competitors. What are some great things about textiles that folks consumers should know.

Larry Serbin:
That's a wonderful question Joy. There are a number of reasons to make it superior and make it different in other fibers. Number one is the rank of hemp fiber actual hemp fiber is one of the strongest of all of the natural fiber catch and natural fibers that are out there so it's stronger than cotton is a stronger than flaps and so it makes it really good when you want strength you want a natural fiber hemp also housing other property and that's called a very low percentage wrong shirt. And what that means is that we can take them you know under 5 and put pressure on it to put it right. Most fibers will actually stretch like a rock band prior to ranking hemp on the other hand has actually virtually no structure at all. I mean ultimately it will break if you put enough pressure on it but it won't stretch out so that means you have really good for things like post surgery where you don't want if you put some pressure on it. Imagine how the couch may have you have children jumping up and down on it on cotton and other synthetic fabrics if you put enough pressure the fabric will stretch out you will become very loose hemp on the other hand with this rope or something along Asian will remain very tight and will not stretch out another proper name that it has. And this is very unique to hemp are the fibers actually hollow if you're looking at it under a microscope it is a hollow should not find its shape. Now not all of this to it Emerson a lot of etc. You need to know is whether you think the hemp or example and allows the free flow of air. So what do you wear hemp be very very cool and allows the air to flow in and out of it so it doesn't come to warm like many synthetic fibers.

Larry Serbin:
You may not. And yes because it's hollow. If you trap a little thin of air from the warm from the heat of on shore it allows it to be in hot weather and warm in too wet. So it works very well. Also a little extra covering this creates more surface area on the fiber that allows for more molecules dye to bind tumors. Therefore with hemp you get richer stronger colors when you actually try and it's not more airy over the molecules at night on tour. It also allows for hemp to be a varied assortment so it will tend to absorb water from your body is so or you know you want to use it as a wash cloth or a towel will absorb all of that water and then also the free flow of air allows for oxygen to flow through and the creek eventually grows anaerobic bacteria now anaerobic bacteria is a bacteria that actually is in your sweat causing when you perspire. There is a lot of air that allows for anaerobic capture and you know that's actually the odor of perspiration where you have the free flow of air you return to growth of anaerobic bacteria so hemp then it is not smell as bad as cotton or other. When we were if you were to perspire some not somebody real quick qualities would hemp fiber is also restricted to UV rays. What this is that it will not break down as quickly as other fabrics. If it's exposed ultraviolet light like line to the front so it's a very durable comp durable fabric that works well for many applications with so many natural built in A.V. inside mold anti-microbial.

Joy Beckerman:
I mean just amazing amazing fabric here. And as we like to say hemp whereas in it doesn't wear out. And then eventually you started to add or did you start when did the twine and Cord edge because you have such a range of twine different gauges of clients from fine jewelry to other thicknesses. And again you also have cord edge and rope of various thicknesses. I'm certain that you have the largest collection of ropes of various thicknesses and I know that particularly for historical restorations and so on and so forth for ships for rigging and sort of civil war type historic recreations I know going to hemp is very popular to get those authentic hemp robes. When did you start adding those types of offerings to have traders.

Larry Serbin:
I think and add twine and rope probably around the late 90s early 2000s would be down with one type of size and flying fish market for it was for jewelry arts and crafts and little by little as your demands increased for those on it we added more sizes for the church more colors and you're right we have a very large supply. We have broken twine and probably the largest and only one shop in the country right now will use open twine for a number of different applications. I mentioned arts and crafts or one. We are people using them in the home building industry. For example I work for a pathway and we can even help people find the hemp route for movies and for bondage because it has a really old Russia look about it and people seem to like not.

Dan Humiston:
I want to take a minute to thank all of our Hemp Barons listeners and to let you know that you can support the show by subscribing to MJBulls premium. It's only four dollars and ninety nine cents a month and you gain access to all previous episodes of Hemp Barons as well as all MJbulls other podcasts and exclusive content. Go to MJBulls.com and enter promo code Barons to get your first month free.

Joy Beckerman:
They started to sell raw hemp fiber from unprocessed vast fiber to comb fiber to dig one fiber and heard for example and thank God you did. Because as we went out as advocates and educators to teach lawmakers regulators students senior citizens farmers about him we came to hemp traders as we still do to get our samples of these types of fiber so folks could see it and feel it and touch it. And so that it could be real. When did you start adding in those raw and mildly processed fibers to your offering.

Larry Serbin:
Probably not so in the raw fibers from the right two thousand maybe around a decade ago. At first we had to import all of these products. We had to import it mostly from China or we were getting it from. But 2000 was clean. We began to find American sources as we hemp was legalized. Grown you know they have fiber it became available here. So from 2000 for clicking on we began to be able to buy and sell hemp purge which is really popular for building products and hemp fiber which is pretty used for things like people who want to make their own textiles corporations as well as for use in deposits. And on that note when we have to import it it was fairly with those products for five years it was very price prohibitive. Now that we've been seeing some of the fiber from within the United States it opened up a lot more door was used hemp in the not open industry such as building materials and because it's on emotive things of that nature.

Joy Beckerman:
And we you and I both share obviously such a huge love for hemp particularly as it relates even to hemp building materials. Given that over 50 percent of our landfill waste every year is due to construction waste or inferior off gassing toxic materials for frankly temporary buildings and I'm not so sure how we have become a society that accepts the 40 or 80 year lifespan of a building when they should be built to last hundreds and hundreds of years. I know that's a passion that we share particularly as it concerns hemp Creek which of course is a mold rot. Fire and pest resistant insulation and also that brings me to and you sell hemp Creek sample kit you sell herd for hemp Creek and it also brings me to your newest although I'm hoping that we're also going to get the genetics that you're now offering as well but to your newest endeavor which I believe is a whole separate company you'll correct me if I'm wrong there cannot growth which makes hemp board and I just want to make sure the listeners know that in the past hemp board which looks like plywood but it's made from hemp heard that in a Woody core of that long strong stock was mostly coming from China and there were reliable Karzai reliable sources in the past but of fluctuating price range. And then in the recent past the manufacturers began to become inconsistent and there began to be an inconsistent supply of properly or appropriately made hemp board and we thought oh my gosh we we've got to solve this problem Larry. You have solved this problem domestically in the United States. Can you tell us about your newest endeavor Cana Grove and hemp board.

Larry Serbin:
Yes certainly thank you Joy. This is one of my most exciting new projects about working on and as you mentioned we were actually the company in 2000 from about 2004 to 2010 11. It was our company that was having hemp for a in China that we were falling in the U.S. and little by little we were growing that business making it better. Unfortunately there's a long time. And also many of the factories that we were working with went out of business and that ended up making cost prohibitive to continue to bring up the war supplemental project on the shelf. But 2000 was two week lows. Hemp in California and I decided that this was a project I wanted to work on. Well you were selling it for. The most popular products do not you never told you because eyes really light up when I can see a board made from hemp. So I revived it back in 2000 and substitute and late last year and 2008 too. I was a little open in the factory in the U.S. and I was able to locate hemp and hemp products where it was shipped through the factory and we were able to produce the very first American grown American made hemp. And this support is 100 percent. And then the only other product is the binders that we use which is a type of glue in the binder we use it was an environmental binder it has no formaldehyde and no formaldehyde whatever we news making this plant an orange does not have any formaldehyde it's totally safe no off gassing and the product is a lot like particle board to show on or I should say.

Larry Serbin:
It was an immediate five before and now it's a bunch of little pieces and I'm prosecuting under under pressure and C and it has great uses it works very well for products like furniture for hemp a holding pattern of sign cabinets things can also work some flooring we can also put on a giant speakers and the hemp form has properties that are even never the regular ones for example it has had a ridiculous properties it has better what we call the form value allows them to refloat after the close of trading we have the same right now over a week when we work with hemp and then contaminants so assortment we're able to and obviously it could be a water repellent material we're able to add a water repellent component to the borders we're making it it will absorb not really well that it can become supremely water repellent no longer exists so it will last towards the reward center the regular particle board is made from students and of course all long from hemp you know a renewable resource that we can see on every year from our farmers and we will no longer have to rely on the forest down trees for wood products I my heart is so full right now and I just have to say that you just taught me something I didn't know not that I know everything that you said but you and I have been fiber lovers and followers of hemp and purveyors of hemp for a good long while now.

Joy Beckerman:
But this water repellent now that I didn't know because I often tell people no hemp is so absorbent that you don't want it to be in a situation where it is going to absorb water it will collect much more water than that is why would the inferior counterparts This water repellent option is fascinating to me and revolutionary and new to me that's great news. Larry.

Larry Serbin:
Oh I was just going to say the properties are very similar or operate in the wrong form. It is very water absorbent but if you were to add a water repellent it Zorn all of that water repellent very well for fibers hollow it's just not solvent. That is correct sir tank is not water repellent properties. What you put into it it becomes more water repellent than just traditional wood products.

Joy Beckerman:
Amazing stuff like superior performance everywhere we go. And boy when you get American ingenuity on this stuff it is just there is no limit to the promise of this versatile valuable plant. This renewable resource. In closing I want the listeners to know that on top of just being a hemp hero of epic proportions in America in North America and internationally you're also such an advocate. As we said 1992 you were part of the Business Alliance for commerce and hemp I misspoke earlier when I said cannabis hemp box. Also a former president in fact my predecessor I am the president of the Hemp Industries Association founded in 1994. Now when you used to be the president of the CIA is such a great honor to follow in your footsteps and the tremendous work that you've done and also you are the chairperson for the California Department of Food and Agriculture's industrial hemp Advisory Board a very strong and powerful position to be and to help guide the California Department of Food and Agriculture are arguably the fifth largest economy in the world in their industrial hemp program. So you know from for all of us. On behalf of citizens on behalf of all of the advocates. Larry thank you so very much for the important work that you do on a pro bono basis selflessly. Decade after decade and still going so strong and in fact even starting the California chapter of the Hemp Industries Association as we sit today which is no easy feat. That is a huge state with huge membership. Could you tell the listeners in closing about the genetics that you now also sell so hemp traders with traditionally fiber then got it in some extract and now even genetics. You talk to us about that.

Larry Serbin:
All right Joy. You put it this way you got it to me and I.

Joy Beckerman:
Yes for propagation. Exactly right.

Larry Serbin:
Ok. Yeah. We've also started telling you how to separate people who wish to grow hemp and the types that we're selling and I'm sure everyone knows these things. But our focus is more on the seeds in the five varieties. So what is itself is right now we're selling the certified to feed 9 which is excellent. If you want to grow hemp grain and it's probably the best spring for that purpose and the other varieties that we're selling is called Honey Maha. And that's a Chinese variety. Some people who want to grow hemp for fiber. This is not sure plants use in China to make calls or touch Miles. And it is the tallest and that's also the strength to produce the most biomass aggregate versus ground rules.

Joy Beckerman:
And these can be purchased from your Web site and Hemp traders.com

Larry Serbin:
So anything from out networks just want to play around within it all the way to truck loads for farmers that are serious about growing hundreds of acres of industrial hemp.

Joy Beckerman:
Just wow. Larry I cannot thank you enough for spending your time with us today. For everything that you've done since nineteen ninety four the hemp industry in the United States and abroad and for everything you still continue to do today folks please head off to hemp traders dot com for a huge selection of textiles fibers webbing twine portage seeds and extract Larry Larry thank you so much again. I hope we get to have you on again soon.

Larry Serbin:
Thank you so much. I just want to let everyone know that Joy is a great job wandering through the streets association during the last two years searching membership grow greater than at any other time in your organization exponential.

Joy Beckerman:
Just because hemp is here is it not brother.

Larry Serbin:
Yes it's here now and we're definitely pun intended. Hemp is definitely growing.

Joy Beckerman:
Thank you so much. Happy Happy Fourth of July to you. Larry we'll talk to you soon.

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