By Eric Peterson | Jun 23, 2021
Co-packing services for CBD and nutraceutical brands
"I've been in the CBD industry since 2010," says Reynolds, whose previous experience includes cultivation, extraction, and contract manufacturing in Colorado and California. "In 2019, I split away with TriLabs, and decided I was going to do manufacturing and that was it."
At TriLabs' two facilities -- a combined 19,000 square feet -- the company manufactures tinctures, topicals, gummies, and pet treats. Reynolds and his wife, Alexandria, developed most of the recipes over the course of the 2010s.
"A lot of reasons these products are so good is because they come from house recipes -- basically IP Glenn and his wife have come up with over the past five years," says TriLabs VP of Sales Adam Bushey. "When the product dominates, nobody can replicate it, because it's not based off a simple recipe. It's very intricate."
Some of that meticulous R&D came from a personal need. "We personally had 12 dogs," says Reynolds. "Almost every single one of them lived to be 17 or 18 years old, so that's pretty good."
Some of the work involved consulting with food scientists, "a lot of testing," and there's always been an emphasis on organic ingredients. The common thread: "Anything that we've ever done, it's always been about quality first."
Adds Bushey: "Our gummi recipe, texture-wise and flavor-wise, tests better than competitors they're dealing with. It's not that we're using a special piece of equipment or that we're doing anything particularly different, it's just the recipe we're using is different, and it's a better recipe."
That dovetails into cGMP and ISO certifications, and adherence to FDA standards in preparation for the agency's inevitable oversight. "If you're already positioned there, you're good to go,' says Bushey. "When that change happens, it won't affect business."
He adds, "It's not something that can be implemented overnight. It's going to derail a lot of bigger companies that aren't already on that level. Glenn set out at the beginning to make sure we were ahead of the game, so if the FDA or anybody lays out any guidelines, we don't have to blink an eye."
Reynolds says that TriLabs is looking at additional certifications, including BRC and SQF for food safety. "Our cGMP, somewhat coincides with that, but there are a few other things those certifications are going to require," he notes.
In terms of supply chain, Bushey says TriLabs isn't "married to a single extractor, which allows us to deal with each project based on the custom necessities of that project. . . . Having that availability really creates a very personal experience for the client. They're not feeling like they're being bullied into one type of oil."
Adds Reynolds: "Being that we're a cGMP-certified facility, anybody we work with has to be vetted extremely hard. Any extraction company we work with, we have to do a tour of the facility, we have to see all their certifications, we have to witness their processes. All the companies we work with have the same ethics, morality, and standards of operation that we have ourselves, or we won't do business with them."
Bushey says nutraceuticals has grown to represent about half of TriLabs' business. "We work with a lot of nutraceutical companies now that don't deal in cannabinoids at all," he adds. "It's the same thing with them: They'll come in and say, 'We need 5 milligrams of melatonin and 10 of zinc.'"
Reynolds says he says TriLabs is uniquely able to cater to small and large accounts. "We actually created two different divisions: We have one division that just focuses on the entry-level customers, R&D-style customers, the mom-and-pop-customers. Then we have a whole different division that focuses on the larger customers with the million-plus MOQs."
The hybrid approach means TriLabs has capacity to make about 1.3 million gummies in a single shift, but can also fulfill orders as low as 10,000 for test runs and smaller orders. Customers include Colorado-based Honeybee Hemp.
After a tumultuous 2020, TriLabs' sales are up nearly 800 percent in 2021. Reynolds says the 2022 forecast is 75 percent year-over-year growth.
The self-funded company has no debt, says Reynolds. "It has its pros and cons," he says.
Challenges: Supply chain. "Lead time, transportation, availability of raw goods," says Reynolds.
The logistical hurdles have slowed TriLabs' growth, but they haven't kept the company from hitting its targets, he adds. "I always look at challenges as opportunities."
Opportunities: Gummies are driving TriLabs' growth via both cannabis and nutraceutical customers. "Anything health-focused -- CBD gummies have obviously been growing, Delta-8 gummies have been growing because of the hot topic they're built around, and immunity and sleep on the nutraceutical side," says Bushey.
Needs: Employees and space. Reynolds says he's looking to expand to 30,000 to 50,000 square feet of facility space, but notes that he'd like to add about 50 employees by early 2022. "There's just not a huge labor pool out there right now to be able to pull from," he says.