WESTFIELD – Kevin Wong, vice president of marketing for Clean Technique, Inc. at 32 Char Road said now that the cannabis processing business received its provisional license from the Cannabis Control Commission in June, their focus is on getting the site construction going.
“It’s very structured the way the process goes. You can’t begin the buildout until you get the provisional license, then you have to submit architectural plans to the Cannabis Control Commission,” Wong said, adding that they are now in discussion with a local Westfield construction company for the work, a discussion he said is going well.
Clean Technique (cleantechniquelabs.com), which falls into the product manufacturing category of the cannabis industry, will focus on the extraction, isolation and purification of therapeutic compounds within cannabis into a pharmaceutical quality cannabis oil, to sell wholesale to other businesses.
Wong said it’s been an interesting ride since they received a special permit from the Planning Board in May 2019, and a Host Community Agreement was reached with the Mayor and City Council in September. A total of 3% of the revenue will go to the city under the agreement.
“Quite honestly, this whole licensing process has made it clear how fortunate we are to have such a great host municipality,” Wong wrote in an email to The Westfield News. “I’ve heard horror stories of other applicants being taken advantage of by their host municipality. We truly appreciate how professional, fair and open minded Westfield has been.”
One hurdle the company did face was the volatility of the markets since they started their plans. “COVID has affected us; capital markets are very skittish. People are a little bit jittery about how volatile the markets have been,” Wong said, adding that it has been more challenging to raise the money as a result.
Anticipated costs they will be investing into the building, which was previously used as a laboratory, are $1-$1.5 million. Outfitting the building, depending on the level of scale with equipment to get it to the standard they want, will be $500,000 to $1 million. Wong said they also want to secure additional capital for the business.
“COVID has shown that everything goes out the window at the drop of a hat. We’re trying to err on the side of caution, and are being careful to raise the capital we need,” Wong said. He said they hope to open in the first quarter of 2021.
“We do expect 2021 to be an important year. Cultivation is expected to quadruple in a year,” Wong said, adding that right now, demand outweighs supply. He said their business will help growers by turning excess product into cannabis oil, which has a longer shelf life and where the cannabis industry is headed. He said the vape crisis and COVID have made people more concerned about inhaling anything into their lungs.
“Every generation is looking for healthier options. People are using it for wellness and medical purposes, which is why we wanted to enter as contract extractors and manufacturers,” he said.
Wong said their business will also work with product manufacturers and retailers. “We’re more interested in a revenue share model, to brand a product together. We’re team-oriented; better products, better work,” he said.
Product manufacturers producing gummies and topicals may have kitchens, but not the extraction capability. Clean Technique would sell them the oil to infuse into the product, Wong said. He said they could also help retail stores to put their own name on vape cartridges.
At the Planning Board hearing, Clean Technique Partner Robert Parvere described the team as having a combined 36-plus years in life sciences, pharmaceutical and health care businesses, with extensive research and development, quality control, sales and marketing experience, most recently with Fortune 500 companies. Parvere also said the team has been the best of friends for more than 20 years, and shares a passion for the cause of ensuring quality to protect consumers.
“We really are invested in the long term success of our clients; leveraging data to help them predict what products to put on the shelf. We’re metrics and data driven, which helps them guide and navigate this dynamic industry and its different scientific innovations,” Wong said.
Wong also said that cultivating a good relationship with Westfield is equally important to them. “We want to be transparent with everyone in Westfield. We’re all family guys, very rooted in our towns.”