Inside a cavernous Suffield warehouse Rick Sotil, managing partner of Lasa Extract LLC, moves with quick efficiency through a series of rooms that house the new CBD oil extraction business.
After a long day working in his other business, Sotil Tree Service, Rick’s guiding a private, early-evening tour for a pair of visitors of two large former tobacco barns in the rolling Connecticut countryside.
A Cuban native raised in the Basque region of Spain before coming to Connecticut as a teenager, Rick’s excitement and passion for everything he undertakes is clear as the long stride takes him from room-to-room through the buildings on South Grand Street.
Spaces with large industrial steel canisters that extract CBD oil from hemp plants give way to rooms where dozens of live-edge slabs of exotic wood are stored, awaiting Rick’s artistry to turn them into high-end tables destined for places like the MGM Springfield.
In another room hemp plants hang from the ceiling and a huge fan blows the unusually warm fall air around to help dry the plants. Farther down in the barn is Rick’s studio, where about two dozen of his finished wooden tables are stored, their gleaming surfaces reflecting the fading autumn light outside.
Rick’s CV is as intriguing as the man himself. For more than 23 years he was a standout jai alai player in Bridgeport, Milford and Hartford, as well as overseas. After retiring, he launched the highly successful Sotil Tree Service. The tree-cutting business led, in turn, to his passion for hewing raw wood slabs into one-of-a-kind tables and countertops.
About a year ago he and his wife Valentina looked around the former tobacco factory and realized they would lend themselves perfectly to CBD manufacturing, something they’d been considering jumping into as Connecticut’s hemp-growing industry blossomed.
Soon after, Lasa Extract was born and today the company is producing its first products, a 30mL CBD tincture. Numerous other products, intended for human and pet use, are in the works.
For years, manufacturers have used hemp for numerous products ranging from fabric and rope to car parts. A hemp byproduct, CBD oil, has been found to ease symptoms of common health issues from depression and anxiety, to joint pain to heart disease.
With the easing in recent years of federal and state laws that regulate CBD production and sales, the markets in Connecticut and in the U.S. have exploded. Indeed, Governor Ned Lamont recently signed legislation making the state’s pilot hemp program permanent in the Lasa Extract lab.
While Lasa is a manufacturer, Rick and his team intend to directly retail their products, though a wholesale line is also under consideration. He also plans to use locally grown hemp from Connecticut farmers.
With his usual zeal and passion for his business ventures, Rick says Lasa intends to be a top CBD producer in the market because of the company’s high quality extraction process that utilizes carbon dioxide to extract the oil, instead of the more commonly used ethanol.
Because it is nontoxic and non-flammable, CO2 eliminates the concern about residual solvents in the end product, as well as the potential for combustion/explosion during extraction. It can also be captured for use without the need for synthesis and processing, keeping costs down, and protecting consumers and the environment. The bottom line, Rick says, carbon dioxide produces a cleaner and more natural product.
Rick proudly points out that Lasa Extract can keep tight control over its high-quality extraction process “because we have no CEO, no investors and no bottom line to worry about. That’s why we will have the best quality CBD.”
Connecticut, he notes, also imposes some of the strictest regulatory measures on CBD producers. Dried hemp samples must be sent to the state for testing and quality approval before it can be turned into CBD oil.
“Connecticut’s testing standards are the strongest in the U.S., that’s also why our CBD will be the best in the country.”
For more information visit www.lasaextract.com.