Algoma CBD business expands with large-capacity hemp extractor
ALGOMA – Stacy Deprey-Purper got in on the ground floor of CBD product sales in Wisconsin when she opened her downtown retail shop last May, founded to process and supply higher quality CBD.
But, as the business of CBD — cannabidiol, an oil processed from industrial hemp — continues to grow locally and across the country, so too does the need for companies to help hemp farmers produce those products in a top-level, financially sound manner, Deprey-Purper said.
That's why the entrepreneur, Algoma native and CBD advocate is bringing Native Roots Hemp into the business of extracting those oils on a large scale for customers from across the U.S.
The Extraction Division of Native Roots Hemp — Deprey-Purper changed the name from One Health Wisconsin last fall so its location would reflect her move last year back to the place of her upbringing, as well as its agricultural basis — installed a large-capacity extractor last fall, with a second one on the way.
While the retail store remains at 219 Steele St., even though the company also sells its product online across the country and as far away as Australia, Deprey-Purper said, the division was operating for two months in a former restaurant on Navarino Street before moving into a larger temporary space last week while seeking a permanent home in the city.
Speed and efficiency are among the main reasons for obtaining the new extractors, which are from Chinese lab equipment manufacturer Henan Lanphan and cost $125,000 each.
Before, the company was processing about 40 labor-intensive pounds of hemp a day in five small, slow cooker-sized pots. With the big new machine, Deprey-Purper said it can process 1,000 pounds every 14 hours. She expects to process 170,000 pounds this growing season, from last October to this October, and about 250,000 pounds the year after.
"We'll be able to produce a lot more, help the company grow faster," she said. "We feel we really need to ramp up based on the orders we've received."
Plus, the extractor produces a better oil, Deprey-Purper said. The chiller in the extractor can take the oil to minus-76 degrees Fahrenheit during the process to make a more pure product; most extractors go as low as minus-60.
She added that lead extractor Shaun Gates experiments with the ratios of hemp going into the machine to brew the most effective oils.
"We're taking extra steps to make sure farmers can get the highest-concentration oil produced and the best quality," Deprey-Purper said.
"With the new extractor, we'll be much more efficient, much less hands-on," Gates said.
Deprey-Purper said another reason for the expansion is to offer a more cost-effective extraction process for hemp farmers, especially those with smaller farms. She said most extraction companies typically keep a portion of the CBD they process under contract, in some cases more than 50 percent, then turn around and market it themselves.
"There is a huge need for our small- to medium-sized farmers to have a trusted, economic extractor to go to," Deprey-Purper said. "And we do it differently, besides."
About 95 percent of Native Roots' extraction customers are located in or near Northeast Wisconsin, Deprey-Purper said. She noted the state had 850 hemp growers in 2019.
The company also is exploring what to do with the biomass that's left over after the extraction is complete.
Hemp's history as a practical plant dates back at least 10,000 years, and it's been used to make everything from paper and fabrics to paint and plastics; Deprey-Purper noted Ford Motor Co. built a prototype car made from a hemp-based plastic that could run on hemp biofuel in 1941.
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Deprey-Purper said animal feed is a common use for the biomass, and hempcrete or hemplime, a hemp-and-lime-based concrete substitute, is finding increasing use for construction and insulation. She added that Native Roots is working with farmers in Marathon County on tea made from hemp and ginseng.
"We're working on a plan to be able to use every bit of the biomass," Deprey-Purper said. "That's the next phase is figuring out what to do with it once it's all extracted."
A goal of the company's continued expansion is adding distillation and remediation labs this season, at a cost of $50,000 to $60,000. Distillation produces an even cleaner oil and further reduces the amount of THC — the component of cannaboids that produces a "high" — in the oil, while remediation removes all the THC, which Deprey-Purper said is necessary for people who would like to use CBD products but are subject to drug testing.
With the expansion and plans to have three shifts of workers, the company is looking for potential employees who want to learn the craft of hemp oil extraction; it'll have a table at the Ahnapee Youth Apprenticeship Consortium's Employer Expo on Jan. 30 at the Rendezvous in Luxemburg. Deprey-Purper said she wants to offer not just an alternative crop for current and future farmers but also job skills in a growing market that could be used without having to leave Kewaunee County.
"It'll help more farmers, as well as hiring people to learn the craft," she said.
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Algoma CBD business expands with large-capacity hemp extractor