A Colorado Springs-based hemp company is growing its operations, to include the recent acquisition of a 110,000-square-foot facility in Pueblo West.
Kashif Shan, CEO and founder of Folium Biosciences, said the extraction and purification facility will create 150-200 additional jobs in southern Colorado while increasing the company’s production by ten times its current capacity.
“We absolutely looked at the Springs as an option for the new facility … but the decision was based on that this was almost a turnkey facility for us,” he said. “It was already an FDA-registered and approved facility for its prior use, and was easily convertible into what we’re doing.”
The company currently has about 200 employees; however, Shan said that number is expected to grow to nearly 500 by the end of year between its different facilities in the Springs, La Junta and the new Pueblo West operation.
“We’re having to grow so quickly because of the growing demand for our products,” he said.
The five-year-old company also has started construction on a 170,000-square-foot facility in Canada with another international expansion planned for 2021 in Greece, Shan said.
Folium Biosciences produces, manufactures and distributes phytocannabinoid hemp oil, Shan said, adding it’s a business-to-business company with distribution in 34 countries.
“We don’t have a consumer-facing brand; our clients include companies that have their own formulating chemists that are interested in buying bulk raw ingredient from us,” he said. “And then we have clients that are sales and marketing companies, like a Costco or CVS or other retailers, interested in our finished goods.”
Folium’s finished products fall into three categories: human wellness, animal health and cosmetics, Shan said.
“Our oils are already being used in Sephora in their face masks,” he said. “We probably have about 800 customers altogether, so a lot of the brands that are out there already utilize our oils in their products.”
Shan expects the demand for Folium’s product to increase due to the inclusion of commercial hemp production in the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill.
“Through the course of this year, all the big box retailers … are absolutely going to be bringing this market to the mainstream,” he said. “CVS actually just announced that they were placing CBD products in their stores.
“There is a ton of interest in this space right now because it’s not very often there’s something that exists in nature, that hasn’t been exploited globally.”
Over the next 10 to 20 years, Shan also believes drug therapies will increasingly use cannabis molecules.
“For Colorado Springs, because we’re one of the largest companies in the world doing what we do, I think that’s something that’s really good for the city,” he said. “We have people fly in from all over the world to visit us, and we have companies that are top Fortune 100 companies that we’re interacting with.
“There are actually businesses that are coming into the city because of us and what we produce.”
Going forward, Shan said the company’s biggest challenge will continue to be changing the perception that it’s a marijuana company.
“That is the polar opposite of what we do,” he said. “In fact, if you look across our management team, you’ll see executives that relocated from high-tech in California, Florida and New York, to be at the epicenter of this industry because it’s a huge opportunity that’s exploding globally right now.”
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story reported Folium Biosciences’ new Pueblo West facility would double its production when it will increase ten times.