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This week, Mark Adams, CEO of Convectium, discusses how companies are using his equipment to fill up to 150,000 vape cartridges per week.
The company designs and manufactures automated filling and capping equipment used in the cannabis, hemp and CBD markets. Based in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, Convectium's machines can fill 100 cartridges in less than 60 seconds. It recently introduced a companion automated capping machine that helps cartridge manufacturers fill and cap pods and cartridges under the coveted three-minute threshold.
Since Adams joined Convectium in 2017, the company has rolled out a new or updated machine about every six months. With a background in big tech, he brought his R&D, testing and commercialization acumen and applied it to a company that was still struggling to find its identity.
Adams was drawn to the industry because of the opportunity: beyond the possibilities associated with federal legalization, Adams estimates that some 75% of the industry is still filling cartridges by hand. Manual fills lead to lost product and deviations that are unacceptable to both customers and retailers. Once federal legalization happens, the lack of consistency also won’t hold up to FDA scrutiny.
The global pandemic has also impacted the ability to execute manual fills, since many operations have a large number of fillers working in close proximity — which simply isn’t a possibility under COVID-19 restrictions.
Adams is no stranger to navigating a crisis. Convectium faced some dark days after multiple deaths were tied to the vaping industry beginning in the summer of 2019. Orders were delayed or canceled, and the entire vape industry froze until black market products with Vitamin E oil were revealed to be the culprit. While Adams knew the lung problems weren’t caused by anything in the cartridge, it took until about December 2019 for the bad actors to be flushed out of the industry.
Right after the company came out of the vape crisis, COVID hit, and while it has led to an uptick in retail sales, Convectium elected to restructure. The company maintains 14 full-time employees and a few independent sales contractors.
The company also entered the pre-roll business, selling a new machine that produces about 750-900 pre-rolls per hour.
In order to prevent another vape crisis, Adams stressed the importance of federal regulation. He says agencies like the FDA could do a great service to consumers by regulating the marketplace.
Adams remains optimistic and suggests that federal legalization could be possible early in President-elect Joe Biden’s first term. He says it will be a boon because, he estimates, more than 50% of the vape cartridges come from the black and gray markets.
Regardless of his company's recent challenges, Adams predicts nothing but tailwinds in 2021.