The Journey: An Introduction to Innovative Extracts
At Innovative Extracts, we are committed to providing quality products that meet the highest standards of health and safety. Our story began with a vision – an ambitious undertaking rooted in dedication, hard work and a relentless commitment to delivering quality solutions for effective plant-powered relief. In this blog post, you will get an insider’s look at our journey as we take you through our origin story up until now.
Golden Farms: Where it all began
Innovative Extracts is based at Golden Farms in Portage, Pennsylvania. Vincent Golden and his wife bought the 150 acre farm and moved his family there in 1978. They raised five children on the farm and renovated the buildings and fields. One of the children, now a US Special Forces veteran, is the founder and a co-owner of Innovative Extracts. Vincent grows specialty grains like buckwheat, sunflower and a few others and operates a flour mill for his custom milling business. In 2021 his daughter Emily started a cut-your-own flower business on the farm.
The farming operation has evolved over the years to where no herbicides or pesticides are used, and it has been that way for about 30 years. Though it is not officially certified organic, it is essentially an organic farm.
How Innovative Extracts got started
Andy applied for a research permit in 2018, and a few months later the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known informally as the farm bill, was passed. Among other agricultural issues, this bill 1) legalized the production of hemp, and 2) removed hemp and hemp seeds from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of Controlled Substances. With the passing of the farm bill, Andy saw a good opportunity to get involved in a new market that had little competition at the time. Andy, his father Vincent, and Andy’s friend and fellow veteran Matt formed a limited liability company and named it Innovative Extracts. Some of Andy’s friends who were well established in the cannabis industry offered to train and mentor him and his partners along the way, giving their new business venture a competitive edge.
Challenges in launching the business
However, even with the mentorship of seasoned professionals in the industry, Andy and his partners faced some challenges in the startup phase.
One problem that arose was that when industrial hemp became legal in Pennsylvania in 2018, many people jumped in and flooded the industry. In the first year there was a big price bubble, and then it burst. What followed next was a big crash in prices between plant material and wholesale products that had to work itself out and, and it is now beginning to do that.
Marketing the CBD products was a major challenge. There are many regulations in terms of how CBD can be marketed and what marketing channels are allowed. In marketing and product labeling, care must be taken not to make unsubstantiated claims about what a given CBD product can do.
Growing hemp has its own set of challenges as well. It can be tricky to grow high quality hemp to maturity, even more so when using organic cultivation methods. And it is crucial to accurately estimate the correct time to harvest the hemp.
Innovative Extracts operates with a seven member team. While everyone has their area of expertise, each member possesses a range of skill sets and can fill in whenever help is needed in other areas of the business.
The base of operations is at the family farm. A huge vintage barn houses the extraction lab, offices, a stockroom, shipping/receiving area, and a CBD store. The barn recently underwent extensive restoration and remodeling inside and out and is now an area landmark.
The company maintains two brick-and-mortar storefronts, one at the farm and another in the city of Johnstown. The company also sells online through their website. Two acres of hemp are grown organically on the family farm, supplying the raw material from which CBD oil is produced.
The extraction lab
Innovative Extracts uses a state-of-the-art, in-house extraction lab. It uses a hydrocarbon extraction method, which takes longer to process a finished CBD oil but results in a quality product that is superior compared to other extraction methods that use ethanol or co2. This method captures all of the cannabinoids and terpenes in the hemp. After extraction, an extra filtration step is used to produce an ultra-clean, better tasting CBD oil that is truly free of impurities.
Innovative Extracts engages with the community in several ways. The company has done different programs with some disabled vets helping them or their families out.
The company participates in several farmers markets around the region. Andy tries to do several speaking engagements every year. He presented at Mount Aloysius university last semester and will speak at another this semester.
Every year, the farm hosts an annual Sunflower Festival with family-friendly activities. Vendors from around the region offer locally produced food and other products. Employees of Innovative Extracts educate attendees about CBD and the hemp industry in Pennsylvania.
What sets Innovative Extracts apart from natural health product companies
Innovative Extracts is a seed to sale enterprise. The hemp is grown on-site and they harvest, process, bottle, and sell nearly every CBD product on their shelves. Their CBD products are third-party tested, and test results are available on the product pages on the company’s website. Innovative Extracts is veteran-owned and operated. The company supports local veterans and local businesses. Last but not least, the company strives for excellent customer service.
Excellent customer service
Innovative Extracts’ biggest priority is putting the customer first, and it shows. The company has earned a reputation for excellent customer service. Additionally, the management team works hard to keep prices down and still offer high quality products. Even with increasing inflation, they have not raised their prices. Andy is proud that the company has been successful in maintaining their customer-focused objectives since the beginning of the business.
Factors of success
Andy feels that the company’s biggest successes so far have been just staying afloat through some of the ups and downs of the cannabis industry, developing a good network, and establishing a brand with a solid reputation. They now ship their products all over the country.
For Andy, one of the most rewarding aspects of the business is hearing some of the different customer vignettes on how a product helped them for whatever problem they were taking it for.
When asked what was the biggest lesson he’s learned since starting the business, Andy acknowledged that he’s learned many lessons, with most learned “the hard way.”
He believes he has remained true to his core values while growing the business by applying an important lesson he learned when he was in the Special Forces. “If you treat people well, they’re going to take care of you too”, Andy explained.
Andy’s plans for the future of Innovative Extracts are simple: keep growing the business by getting more accounts and adding more products. He hopes to turn it into a multigenerational family business that grows over time.