Vitalis Extraction Technology staff. Photo: Contributed

B.C. business makes a mint on cannabis extraction equipment

Vitalis Extraction Technology first in Canada cannabis industry to earn ASME certification

An Okanagan company is the first in Canada to earn certification from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for its manufactured cannabis extraction equipment.

Vitalis Extraction Technology is marketing its product and manufacturing base beyond just Canada, to the U.S., South America and Europe.

Since it started up three years ago Vitalis has grown from 20 to 60 employees with plans to consolidate all of its business locations around the city into a 40,000 sq.ft. facility near the Kelowna International Airport at a cost of $10 million.

Vitalis is on track for a 105 per cent increase in sales this business year.

READ MORE: SALES LICENCE FOR KELOWNA CANNABIS PRODUCER

Pete Patterson, co-owner of Vitalis along with partners Joel Sherlock and James Seabrook, said their sudden growth is a reflection of the “wild west” excitement surrounding the legalization of cannabis globally.

Patterson said while examples of legalization are being studied carefully in Colorado, California, Washington and Oregon, he said other countries are watching how Canada benchmarks the industry foundation on a nation-wide level.

From the outset, Patterson said he and his partners surveyed the industry to find a marketing niche for their CO2 extraction product design, which was created by Seabrook, part of the first UBC Okanagan mechanical engineering graduation class.

He said they settled on focusing on large-scale production given the competition on the smaller end. They chose to provide a product that was reliable and would ultimately would pass ASME certification and that was also geared to hash oil extraction.

The extraction market equipment is based on petroleum-based solvents such as butane and propane along with CO2 natural products. These solvents are exposed to extreme temperatures and pressures, they display structures that fluctuate between intermediate states of solid, liquid and gaseousness.

He said the potential for consumer demand has brought retailers to them with demands to process up to one million pounds of product a year.

Patterson said the fast and unstructured growth of the manufacturing equipment supply side has presented some massive additional costs.

He noted Alberta, B.C. and Ontario all have slightly varying regulatory rules for cannabis extraction equipment, something that Vitalis has taken pains to meet with their equipment, and something other competitors do not.

READ ALSO: FUTURE UNCERTAIN FOR VANCOUVER POT SHOPS

“I heard one story of two organizations that purchased equipment out of Europe that cost $600,000 and required a further $300,000 to meet certification standards, and an Ontario licensed producer bought a system that required a further $250,000 in upgrade costs,” he said.

“If you don’t bring it up to specs it becomes nothing more than a paperweight. That’s why certification was important to us, as we wanted to stand behind our product.”

But for all the enthusiasm about legalized marijuana business sales revenue, Patterson acknowledges there are similarities to the potential extolled about Internet product investment in the 1990s which led to many companies going bankrupt after securing stock market investment.

“We want to be mindful of what happened when that bubble burst in the mid-90s so we are looking to off-set or revenue stream reliance on the cannabis industry by looking at product development in other areas such as oil and gas industry and mining,” he said.

READ ALSO: B.C. TO STILL ONLY HAVE ONE STORE SELLING POT WHEN LEGALIZATION ROLLS AROUND

Patterson said while he and Sherlock came here from larger cities and Seabrook opted to remain here after graduating from UBCO, he said they believe Kelowna has become an ideal location to base a company with global sales aspirations.

“We thought about locating to larger cities like a Toronto, Vancouver or Edmonton, partly because land is cheaper and more available. But we continued to gravitate back to being in Kelowna. And we have found since it allows us to recruit expert talent because of the lifestyle here, and on the manufacturing side of equipment components we have ready access to a supply chain to help meet our metal and electronics needs.”



barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Boundary non-profits now eligible for emergency funds

Local charities can apply to get grants from the $40,000 pot, managed by the Phoenix Foundation

Drive-in theatre proposed for Grand Forks

City councillors will vote next month on whether to permit the use of the private property

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Snow expected to hit West Kootenay passes overnight on Thursday

Up to 15 cm of snow could fall on Highway 3 between Paulson summit to Kootenay Pass by Friday morning

Six homes ordered to evacuate early Tuesday morning in Grand Forks due to flooding

Two of the six were put on evacuation alert Monday evening

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

COLUMN: Canada needs to remember rural communities as thoughts turn to pandemic recovery

Small towns often rely on tourism, which has been decimated by COVID-19

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

B.C. Paralympian named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Three-time world and Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet is part of 11-member class

Most Read