Hemp Company Clams Up After Firings!

Hemp Company Clams Up After Firings!
Posted by FoM on August 20, 1999 at 07:49:39 PT
By Roberta Rampton, Winnipeg bureau
Source: Western Producer
Canada's largest hemp processing company has fired its chief executive officer. 
Sources say it is the latest dismissal in a long series of staff turnover at Consolidated Growers and Processors Inc. The company would not confirm the dismissal of Larry Siddens, who worked for the company from his office in South Carolina. Director Mark Kaeller said the company will not give any interviews to any reporters about any aspect of the company's operations because of negative publicity. The company has decided to release information only through its website, he said. The website listed Siddens as CEO as recently as June, but by late July, his name had been removed. In early August, other changes were made to the list of senior officers and the company's board of directors on the website. When contacted by telephone, Siddens said he could not confirm whether he was still CEO of the company. He referred all questions to Susan Brana, chair of CGP Inc. Brana did not return calls. Kaeller said the company decided to refuse interview requests because of inaccurate reporting. "The last three or four months, no matter what we said to the press, they were unable to print it correctly," Kaeller said. CGP hit the headlines when the Manitoba Securities Commission starting looking into shares sold in the Dauphin, Man. area in May. People who bought the shares in numbered companies believed they were investing in CGP, which has said it will build hemp processing plants in Dauphin. The investigation is still under way. CGP also made the news when it shipped hemp seed from France by air cargo jet on June 3, and again after it fired its Canadian president, well-known grain industry consultant Doug Campbell. The company is suing Campbell for unspecified damages over remarks he made to farmers and reporters after he was fired, and for breach of contract. Campbell said he was fired over "a significant difference of views" about management decision making, particularly about sourcing seed this spring, and alleged failure to pay overdue bills in Canada. "Every person in every industry has a different culture and different set of ethics," said Campbell in an interview. "It became more and more clear to me that the culture and standards of CGP Inc.'s senior officers were significantly different than my own ethics and standards." Siddens was hired by the company in January 1999. He and Campbell are not the only executives to be fired. The company fired president Gero Leson, an environmental consultant in Berkeley, Calif., in 1998. A European president was fired in early 1999. Key staff at the company's Winnipeg office has turned over twice because of dismissals, once in 1998 and again in early 1999. This summer, CGP also terminated the consulting services of Saskatoon agrologist Brian Drew. Jerzy Przytyk ran the Canadian operations of the company in its early days, but was pushed out in 1997. In retrospect, he said he is happy he was fired. "This was just a pimple on my life," said Przytyk, who grows organic hemp in Quebec. Przytyk said Brana was difficult to work with, and was more interested in raising money than raising hemp. At the time he left, he said the company was issuing shares and collecting money without a clear business plan of how it would earn returns for shareholders. Pubdate: August 19, 1999CGP's Home Page
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