Joe: On this episode of the "CBD University" podcast, we've got 2020 vision. We are discussing the innovation, and manufacturing, and distribution of your favorite hemp-derived CBD products and how our brands will continue to be the brands that not only set the industry standards but are the brands that all others are measured against. We're looking into the future, and hear all about it on this episode of the "CBD University" podcast, and it starts right now.
I'm Joe Agostinelli, host of the "CBD University" podcast. And if you're a returning listener, I thank you once again for tuning in. And if you are a new listener, we are glad you found us on your favorite podcast app of choice. I invite you to subscribe on that platform and get notifications when new episodes are uploaded each week. And a reminder, you can always see full episode videos of our podcast on the Global Widget YouTube channel, along with the YouTube channels of our brands.
And if you recall, way back, 15 or so episodes ago, on our very first episode, I talked to Global Widget co-founder and co-CEO, Kevin Collins, as we discussed how Global Widget came about and what it has become today. In this episode, I welcome co-founder and co-CEO, Donald Biedrzycki. And first and foremost, to those of you watching on our YouTube channel, the studio you actually see, your father helped us build and put together.
Donald: He did, he did. We knocked it out in just a few days.
Joe: So, Donald, I welcome you to your first podcast episode. Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to join us.
Donald: Yeah, thank you very much.
Joe: So, before we get into the future and we talk about what's in store for 2020 for our retail, and wholesale partners, and our customers, let's take a step back and go back to, hard to believe, maybe almost 4 years ago now in 2016. Crazy how time flies. But 2016, first product. How'd this all come about?
Donald: Well, Kevin and I were looking to get into something else, and we came across CBD. We didn't really know what it was. And we started doing some research, and I had some experience on some products in the convenience store market, and we thought that this could definitely be a hit. We knew we'd sell the product at least once. We didn't know that we would get a loyal following and the product will catch on like it has.
Joe: So, since that time, obviously, a lot has changed, not only in the industry but here with Global Widget.
Joe: So, back then, what was the office and facility like?
Donald: Oh, my goodness. It was so long ago, yet it feels like yesterday. We started out in just a couple thousand square feet. I had some equipment for some other products that we had manufactured before. So, I pulled those out of storage. And we put together a formula for some CBD capsules. And it was me, my dad, I think my uncle, we were working in the factory, making stuff, getting that stuff shipped out, and Kevin was grinding the phone, selling.
Joe: And since then, obviously, it has grown into...so, capsules was the first product, you mentioned?
Donald: First product, absolutely.
Joe: Now it's grown to multiple brands and...
Donald: Oh, my goodness, we got thousands of skews. We got too many skews, right?
Joe: So, you talked about just a couple thousand square feet. Which transitions us into 2019, a tremendous year of growth. So, how many thousands of square feet now, and what happened in '19 to expand on that?
Donald: Well, right now, we currently occupy three different facilities, total of about 110,000 square feet. Our headquarters, the building that we're in now, we purchased this at, I believe, end of 2018. The previous owner needed to stay in it for a while. Then, once they moved out, we were able to start a rehab. And that took, I don't know, four to six months. And we finally moved in here in, I believe, end of March of 2019.
Joe: And then, something to hit on with. And then, the other facilities came online?
Donald: Absolutely. So, actually, we weren't even finished moving in and we realized that we just didn't have enough space for everything we were doing. So, we found another building. And we already had extraction in plants, and we knew that we would have to store the raw material at a low temperature.
So, we found a building, luckily, that was about three miles away that was a cold storage facility. And we purchased that. And that building alone is 50,000 square feet. And that's currently used for storage of some bulk raw materials, finished goods. We do all of our shipping from there. We do all of our e-comm shipping from there. And as we head into the next few months, one of the rooms there, which is about 15,000 square feet, will be filled with industrial hemp, and we will be starting extracting in what we call Plant 8. We call this facility Plant 6 because it's actually the sixth location that we've been since we started. So, our distribution center is called Plant 7, and our extraction facility is Plant 8.
Joe: And we'll hear more about that momentarily. But first, you talk about the growth. And a part of that is to point out that really everything here is in-house. We're talking in-house manufacturing, we're talking in-house distribution, in-house, you know, workforce.
Donald: What we found in the industry is, you know, with the lack of guidance from the FDA and other regulatory agencies, the states are managing things state by state. So, we found it's best if we bring as much in-house as possible so we can be as nimble as possible. So, when one state makes a change, if it looks like other states are gonna make a change, or if it has a huge impact on our sales, a negative impact will then, you know, adjust on the fly and make that change. I mean, it's constant updates with packaging, with labeling, with potential, you know, dosing. So, to win in this business, you've got to be able to change on the fly.
Joe: Interesting. We were just discussing the other day about this. And an interesting point to that is something with the state of Louisiana.
Donald: Absolutely. For instance, the state of Louisiana has, I believe, one person there that has to physically view and approve your labels. And we were having a difficult time. So, we had our Head of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs, Margaret Richardson, we flew her to Louisiana. She sat down with them, walked through everything so we could get on the same page. And we're proud to announce that we've got a lot of our skews approved for sale in Louisiana.
Joe: And you talked about, as we were going through the different buildings, unique business model here. You talked about e-comm, you know, and distribution. So, not only do we partner with customers who can purchase online but retail and wholesale partners through distribution, correct?
Donald: Absolutely. If you take a tour through Plant 7, we've got an area designated just for fulfillment for e-comm orders. So, you know, we don't ship cases for customers that purchase online, it's always just bottle or few different skews. So, we have a large wall of inventory there, and we have people that pick and QC those orders before they go out. And then, another section of that warehouse it's everything is sold wholesale, is sold in case form, so it's all inventoried and stored there.
Joe: And on that distribution side, some of these partners have already taken advantage of a new campaign that we had announced, I believe it was in October just before NACS, Seeing is Believing.
Joe: Along those lines, what sets Global Widget apart from other competitors?
Donald: The list is long, but I think one of the key things is a vertical integration. We now, as of March...so, a month from now, we will be extracting our own materials. So, we actually are going to be buying the raw hemp and taking it for raw hemp all the way through to a distillate or to an isolate, and then we put it into our products. Which we've got three of our own brands, and this year, we're going to be expanding into a bit white label division. So, it's a vertical integration. We can offer a full line of products, we can offer some guidance based on, you know, the regulatory conditions in the market. So, it's our vertical integration for sure.
Joe: And you're good on plug in future episodes of the podcast because we just covered a few upcoming topics on our podcast there and then answer. We'll have more on the extraction, and the vertical integration, and some of the other compliance initiatives in future episodes. So, do subscribe to our podcast so you're the first to hear about all of that. And, you know, with that in mind, time to take a look now into the future. So, we've talked about expansion during 2019. With the 2020 vision in mind, you know, what are some goals and enhancements coming on the manufacturing and distribution side for the year ahead that customers would notice?
Donald: Well, I'm on the backend of the business, so I'm on the manufacturing side, and I deal on the not so fun part sometimes, you know. I think where my focus is gonna be and where I see the biggest opportunity is with our focus on compliance, of course, where we're gonna be able to give our customers the confidence that we are staying ahead of the game on our packaging, our dosing, on what's required state by state so they have the best opportunity to sell our products.
Joe: And we talked a little bit about extraction and some of the white label stuff.
Donald: That's right.
Joe: What else is on the maybe hint of a pipeline coming down that we'll see?
Donald: Well, I'm proud to say we just got our Florida hemp food manufacturing certificate. And one of the big initiatives that we're kicking off is our confectionary department. So, we've got some really cool equipment in there. We've got a 60-foot gumming line where we make gummies from scratch all the way through final product, going to dehydration so we can manage the water content of all the pieces. And then, we also have a lollipop, you know, department where we will be manufacturing all that stuff in-house to control compliance, to control consistency of the product, to control the dosing. So, we're very excited about that.
Joe: So, a lot of exciting times. And I do invite our listeners, obviously, to visit our website at www.globalwidget.com for all the latest news coming out of Global Widget and all of our brands, and also follow us across our social media networks. And we'll even take you behind the scenes at times as we talked a little bit about that. And this industry changes on an almost daily basis.
Donald: Sometimes before lunch, and then sometimes before we go to bed again. It's crazy.
Joe: So, with that in mind, I mean, how do we stay on top of all that?
Donald: Hard work and every day. But the one thing that you have to do is we have to be...even though we beat our head against the wall a lot, we have to be willing to change, you know, we have to be as fluid as possible. And once you accept that, then it's just part of the business, you know? So, it's getting the correct mindset that those changes will occur. And we will have some stomach-turning events and have to throw away, you know, tens of thousands or hundred thousands of dollars of raw materials, you know, if something changes in the compliance department for packaging and stuff, but those are things that we're willing to do to maintain the level of integrity in our product.
Joe: Anything else to add before we wrap up the episode? And then, we'll have you back soon to talk a little bit about some of what at the time will be the new fun stuff going on, you know, behind the scenes.
Donald: Yeah, absolutely. I'm really excited about doing an episode on our confectionery department to show that off because I believe that definitely sets us up another level. And then, also, our extraction department. It's very impressive the level that we're going to there. Everything from the beginning is gonna be done cGMP compliant. So, we're very excited about that.
Joe: And we look forward to informing our listeners, and our wholesale and retail partners, and everyone else who has a stake in everything we do here on future episodes. And thank you for being a guest on this episode of the "CBD University" podcast.
Donald: Yeah, thank you very much. It was fun.
Joe: Once again, the vision for 2020 as we move forward here at Global Widget and across all of our brands, I welcome our...I thank our guests, excuse me, our co-CEO and co-founder, Donald Biedrzycki, for appearing on this episode of our podcast. And a reminder, if you have not yet done so, you can subscribe to the "CBD University" podcast on your podcast app platform of choice. We're on them all, including Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, TuneIn Radio, and now on iHeartRadio. And also subscribe on our YouTube channel where you could catch full episode videos of the "CBD University" podcast. I'm Joe Agostinelli, your host of the "CBD University" podcast. Thanks for tuning in.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. CBD products are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. Always consult your personal physician about CBD and using CBD products. CBD should never be used by anyone under the age of 18. This podcast is not intended to provide legal advice regarding the legal status of CBD and CBD products.