Episode 78: Evolution to the CPG & CBD University Podcast



Joe: On this episode of the CBD University Podcast, the evolution of our podcast enters its next chapter, everything CBD health and wellness, as we continue to evolve as an industry leader. Welcome to the CPG, that's Consumer Packaged Goods, and CBD University Podcast. And it starts right now.

I'm Joe Agostinelli, Host of the CPG & CBD University Podcast. If you're a returning listener, welcome back to our podcast. If you are new listener, we are glad you found us on your podcast platform of choice. Hit that subscribe button to get notifications when new episodes are published each week, plus catch full video episodes of our podcast on the Global Widget YouTube channel and the YouTube channels in our family of brands. Through the first 77 episodes of our podcast, our focus was primarily on CBD, as we introduce you to new products, new brands, the expansion of our company. That growth and expansion has allowed us to launch our private label division and enter new areas of health and wellness markets, and new product categories such as immunity support and other dietary supplements. Now bring you even more topics, industry experts, and education here on the CPG & CBD University Podcast. And who else better to discuss our evolution in the industry than the Co-Founder of our company, Kevin Collins.

It was 77 episodes ago, back in November of 2019, when we launched the CBD University Podcast. And now with our new sign, new logo. If you're watching on the YouTube channel, an updated studio. We enter the next chapter of our podcast. Kevin, welcome back.

Kevin: Thanks for having me, Joe.

Joe: Well, Kevin, we've had uh quite the run so far. And as we evolve now into the next chapter of our podcast and into non-CBD practices on the product side, take us through that process and how we got to where we are today, as a company.

Kevin: Right. Well, it seemed like an easy transition for us, kind of natural. You know, we've been focused primarily on CBD first, four or five years. And what we've noticed is the same reason that me and Donnie got into CBD, we're noticing in the overall wellness space. And what I mean by that is, the market is underserved with quality products. And so what we've done is, we've built these really robust manufacturing facilities and we've hired extremely talented employees. You know, we're now sitting at almost 300 employees. And what we didn't want to do is stunt our growth. And in the CBD world right now, it's extremely saturated. And we feel really good about our position in the CBD industry. But like I said, it's extremely saturated and it's really hard to experience a lot more growth. And we are looking to exceed that growth. So what we've done is, we've now transitioned from just a CBD company to more of a CPG company, to where now we're doing the manufacturing of all kinds of different vitamins, and all kind of different form factors. Everything and anything non-CBD, from your basic vitamin C, to the elderberries, and anything in between.

And like I said, it was a natural evolution for us because we have about 150- 200,000 square feet of facility space. And like I said, about 300 employees. So the last thing I wanted to do is have to take a step back. You know, here, we're always looking to take that step forward. And for us, you know, seeing another market that is underserved was very exciting for us because now, it's just another opportunity for us to put our foot into something and grow our business. And that's obviously what our goal is.

Joe: An expansion into new categories is no easy task. What's the toughest part when it comes to expansion?

Kevin: I would have to say probably the toughest part about expansion is the hiring process. You need to hire a lot of people. And I wouldn't say the actual hiring might be the hardest, but you have to get people coordinated quick, up to speed as fast as possible on the processes, what we're doing as a business. Get them in tune to our business. And part of what makes us so hard is, we're entering markets that have hyper growth and they're emerging markets. So, truly, you know, even in the CBD world and now in the CPG world, our two biggest competitors are speed and time, right? And so when you revert that back to hiring, that's the hardest thing is, how do you get new employees up to speed as quick as possible, get them collaborating with the other employees. And then obviously besides that, just being able to fill the capacity is probably the hardest thing, right? Because it's extremely easy. And I take that back. I wouldn't say easy is the right word. But it's a lot easier to, let's say, triple your sales than it is to just triple your capacity. Okay?

Theoretically, tripling sales could be one sales guy that brings in some big orders. Okay? Now, to triple capacity, you might need 50 employees on different machinery and different production schedules. So, figuring out that capacity. Scheduling and production is also very difficult. And then the hiring of the people. Of course, finding the buildings and doing the build out, I wouldn't say that's really that difficult, but that just takes a lot of time and planning. And the hardest part about that is you have to plan ahead of time, right? So a lot of times, you have to be planning for your facilities before you even get there on a sale side, which makes that very difficult. Because then, you know, you're playing catch-up sometimes, and you're taking some calculated risks and gambles.

Joe: And speaking of facilities, and right here in our main facility, we've had the Department of Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki Fried, Director of Cannabis, Holly Bell, come through. Both have been guests on our podcast. Both have highlighted everything going on here, you know, at Global Widget. How does the verification from top officials validate everything you're doing?

Kevin: Yeah, right? It was awesome to get Nikki Fried and Holly Bell in here. You know, obviously we have the head of the Department of agriculture, and we have the head of the cannabis division here. Two of the highest positions in the hemp and THC realm. And both of them gave us, you know, two thumbs up. Holly Bell called us a gold standard. Nikki Fried did a great piece here with Bay News 9. We gave her the full tour. And I would have to say, you know, it's extremely rewarding for us as a business and then as individual contributors, right? Because a lot of what they see are the facilities, the employees, the manufacturing space. And one thing that we've always prided ourselves on here is we do everything in-house. And from this podcast to our graphic design, we inventory our own product, we do our own purchasing, we do our own shipping, fulfillment, manufacturing, gummy formulation, sales department. Literally, everything is under one roof and that's been our mantra since day one. And it's something that we really hold dear to us and think it's one of our biggest assets.

And like I said earlier, you know, we feel really good about our position in the CBD industry. You know, we have a top 10 brand in Hemp Bombs. We're also doing the co-manufacturing for a lot of the other top brands right now. We have the top CBD podcast in the country right now. You know, we do everything in-house, which is a leg up. We're prepared for the regulations and that's why we're waiting for Nikki and Holly to get all that stuff together, and provide those regulations for us. Because the way that we built our business is, we're looking forward to those regulations so we can move this industry forward. And we're excited about what's to come. But like I said and I'll repeat, we feel really, really good about our position in the CBD industry. That's also another reason we're looking to expand into other markets, because we feel like there's not much more we could do in that CBD market than we're already doing, without the help from the regulations. So, we're going to expand it to the other markets and continue to push our business forward.

Joe: And taking that success, how does it translate from CBD to wellness?

Kevin: Well, I mean, I think we've learned a lot through our ups and downs, the pros and cons, the mistakes we've made over the last five years, right? The CBD world is like a rocket. So, it went really high, then it came down a little, now it's kind of steady. So we've had a lot of experience, you could say, in a hyper growth industry. And we learned a lot, we made some mistakes, and now we're going to be able to take all those four to five years of experience and get to apply that to the next four to five years of our growth into a new market. And so, hopefully, we'll get to avoid some of the same failures we had, you know, over the last four to five years. I mean, I've definitely learned a lot and grown a lot as a founder of the company, and know how to do a lot of things differently that I didn't know four to five years ago. But I believe just going through that hyper growth phase of one industry, now will allow us to really succeed through another hyper growth phase in an even bigger market, right? And so, yeah, we're excited about this new opportunity. And I'm sure that everything that we've learned is going to translate pretty well.

Joe: And taking what we've learned, we talk about pivoting and strength. Gummies are at the center of all of that. And that's why we are gummy central. Talk about gummies and we've come to be known as gummy central.

Kevin: Right. So, gummies is, you know, not going away, right? And I've been talking about this a lot lately where, you know, CBD as an ingredient, melatonin, vitamin C, elderberry. All these different things are ingredients that go into different form factors. And we're really excited here at Global Widget because we've made gummy production our main focus. Because, right, gummy production is probably the hardest form factor to do. And what I mean by that is there are so many things to take in consideration, from the taste, the texture, the flavorings, how you're cooking it, how you're conditioning it. I mean, it's endless. Here, at Global Widget, we train 20 to 25 people just to operate one gummy machine. We're going to have eight gummy machines running within the next 90 days. So we're really excited about our growth into the gummy production world.

And, you know, I've said this before, but gummies is the biggest growth in all the form factors. And what I mean is, from the oils, to the tinctures, to the liquids, to capsules, any type of delivery system, gummies is number one. Now, what we're also noticing is, it's also the fastest growing. So, almost all delivery methods are growing at a 2% to 5% rate year over year, where gummies is growing at about a 40% to 50% rate. Gummies work great in all demographics, all age groups. So, you know, kids take them, they love them. And we're doing the whole spectrum of products. So, from kids multivitamins, to adult probiotics, and everything in between, we're now manufacturing here. I think we're up to about a thousand different skew, and, you know, we have seven formulators in-house. So, you know, we're willing to take on any challenge in terms of custom formulation. We're not stranglehold just to what we have in-house. We love taking on new opportunities and challenges in terms of new formulas and new trends that are getting on the market.

But we definitely would encourage anyone and everyone to try to come and check out our facility. It's awesome to see. Like I said, we'll have eight gummy machines running. Each machine could roughly make about a million gummies per day. And we'll have generally about 100 people working at one time on the gummy production line, which is incredible to just see, right? Especially live. It gives you a totally different perspective of the production of the gummies than just talking about it, you know. And that's why we try to do a lot of different videos and snapshots of our production facility, because it gives people a different perspective and really paints that picture of what we're doing. You know, these gummy lines are close to 70 feet long. I mean, they are huge pieces of equipment, that take numerous people to operate. From the cooking, the formulation, to all the different processes throughout that gummy line. And it's exciting and it's fun to see. So I encourage anyone, try to check out some of the videos at least, that we have posted online, so you could see that running live.

Joe: Yeah. As Kevin mentioned, you can check out the YouTube channels of our brands and the Global Widget YouTube channels for those videos. And then you can also tune in to one of our recent podcast episodes, it was episode number 76, where we talk about gummy central, with one of our formulators, Sara Brown, and Business Development Manager, matt no Mac Nortonrton. So with all the growth, expansion, what are you most excited about in the months ahead and the rest of this year, as we enter, as hard to believe it is, the second half of 2021?

Kevin: Well, I'd say first is we're most excited to get our manufacturing space finalized, right? Like I mentioned a couple times, we have a lot of additional gummy machines coming online over the next 90 days. We just got moved into our new manufacturing facility. We're doing some build out there. So, first and foremost, getting that done, wrapped up, so we can increase our capacity and production, is number one on the list. I'd have to say though, some of the things we're excited about is obviously continuing to hire. I think we have about 10 to 12 job openings out right now that we're looking to bring in. And we're always looking to bring in new and exciting talent. But I will say, probably the thing I'm most excited about is, you know, just like Hemp Bombs is our CBD brand, our in-house brand, we're doing another brand in the non-CBD market, in the vitamin market, called Forever Well.

And we've done a partnership with Tony Little. He's been around for years. The number one personal trainer in America, has sold more products than any other infomercial person ever. And we're really excited about this partnership. He's actually local to us. He's actually coming into the office here in a couple hours to meet with us. And so it's fun because we get to talk directly to him. And we're working with him and all the products. And this product will be launched around August 1st. And we're most excited about it because we're going to finally get to enter the big box world, right? With CBD, there's still so many restrictions in terms of the Walmarts and the Targets aren't currently selling it, the Amazons of the world. So it hasn't quite hit mainstream yet. And obviously, with just a vitamin product and the CPG product, we could sell anywhere. So, it's really going to allow us as a business, for the first time, to do true marketing and true sales to the big box stores. And so that's exciting for us as a sales team, as a marketing team, and as a business. This is going to be a really fun and exciting opportunity to get to sell a brand to anyone and everyone.

And obviously, we'll be giving a lot more information about this brand over the next couple weeks and months, as we get closer to the release. But I would have to say, launching that brand, we're very excited about. And, you know, just the overall evolution of Global Widget as a CBD company to a CPG company is probably, without a doubt, the most exciting thing. It opens us up to a whole new world of growth, of hiring, of opportunities. And one thing about it here is, we always like to move forward and grow our business. And that's going to allow us to do that.

Joe: A couple of points before we wrap up. Stay tuned for all the latest news on our expansion of the rest of the manufacturing space that Kevin talked about. We'll have videos and news on that. So, be sure to keep an eye out on our social media networks. And then we'll be excited to welcome Tony in a two-part podcast series, which will be, I guess, on one of the episodes, as we launch the Forever Well nutrition brand on the podcast. So we're excited about that. Kevin, thanks for all the great information and taking time to join me on this episode of our podcast.

Kevin: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Joe: And you can stay updated on that evolution from a CBD company to a CPG company by subscribing to our podcast wherever you get your podcast, and catch full video episodes on the Global Widget YouTube channel. I'm Joe Agostinelli, Host of the CPG & CBD University Podcast. Thanks for tuning in.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The 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 content is not intended to provide legal advice regarding the legal status of CBD and CBD products.