Former international sports star plays key role for cannabis testing company
Dan Szigeti had been named one of the top 10 athletes in Korea in 2016, but recently took a 5,625-mile step away from his success in the Korean American Football Association to be the director of sales for Harrens Lab in Hayward, California.
Szigeti sees an interesting parallel between his career in sports and his current position in the cannabis industry.
“I’ve had concussions throughout playing football, so I’ve always been an advocate for cannabis use over opiate use,” Szigeti says.
Harrens had been conducting lab testing for foods before expanding its operations to include cannabis as California’s adult-use market approaches its opening.
“We already have all the best equipment out there,” Szigeti says, noting the company’s top-of-the-line high-performance liquid chromatographers (or HPLCs) that range from $100,000 to $1 million apiece. As a lab that was initially dedicated to testing foods, Harrens has several of the latter. Although the lab is ISO 17025 accredited and offers pickup services, the company’s foray into cannabis didn’t translate into immediate success. Harrens first had to build a name inside the cannabis community.
“It was definitely a slow trickle because everyone in the cannabis industry knows each other, so often times the companies we are trying to go after are loyal to these labs that they have been using,” Szigeti says.
To better position itself in the hearts and minds of industry professionals, Harrens began sponsoring local reggae shows as part of community outreach. Months after announcing its entry into the cannabis testing sphere in 2016, the company was contracted to handle testing for HempCon’s Canna-Games, a growing competition to be held this August. It is the company’s first major break into the cannabis community and has since become a significant foothold for future endeavors.
“The biggest challenge in working in this industry is just getting our share of the marketplace,” Szigeti says. “You have these labs that people already know, but public health and cannabis is a big thing these days. People are getting sick and there have been a lot of discrepancies with pesticide testing.”
Recent pesticide scandals reported in California have cemented Harrens’ much-needed role within the industry.
“From lab to lab, the differences should be within a certain percentage mark, like 5%,” Szigeti says. “But we do comparisons with different labs from time to time and it doesn’t always work out that way.”
Szigeti says Harrens plans to continue building its name within the industry as California moves toward legalization.
“We are setting ourselves up to hopefully be licensed in all the categories like solvents, potency, terpenes, microbiology,” he says. “It’s going to be interesting to see what happens.”