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Kyle Neathery, CEO Samson Extracts – Interview Series

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Entrepreneurs in the hemp CBD industry often face the daunting challenge of establishing successful ventures while navigating the delicate balance between quality assurance and cost efficiency. This burgeoning sector, marked by its rapid evolution and dynamic market trends, demands a nuanced understanding of not only the regulatory landscape but also the intricate processes involved in hemp cultivation, extraction, and product development. As the demand for CBD products continues to soar, entrepreneurs must grapple with the complexities of sourcing raw materials, optimizing extraction processes, and meeting rigorous quality standards, all while keeping a close eye on the bottom line.

Recently, MyCannabis had the unique opportunity to have a conversation with Kyle Neathery, the CEO of Samson Extracts. Samson Extracts, operating in the heart of Alabama, has positioned itself as a key player in hemp processing, focusing on the delicate art of balancing scale, quality enhancement, and cost optimization. In this exclusive interview, Kyle sheds light on his journey, the triumphs, and tribulations of steering Samson Extracts, and the strategic initiatives taken to propel the company forward in a rapidly evolving market.

MyCannabis: As a brief intro, can you share how your career path led you to the cannabis industry?

Kyle: Sure, I originally worked in auditing for the BP oil spill settlement, then ventured into oil and gas and aviation consulting. Eventually, I joined Southwest Airlines as Chief of Staff. My entry into cannabis happened when a job opportunity opened up in Michigan in 2019, and I took on the role of Director of Operations and General Manager at High Life Farms, a multi-state cannabis operator. I helped grow the company significantly, focusing on cultivation, extraction, and manufacturing.

MyCannabis: An Interesting journey. How did you end up at Samson Extracts?

Kyle: After my experience in Michigan, I wanted to move closer to family and warmer temperatures. A job opportunity as CEO in Alabama aligned with my goals. I joined Samson Extracts in March 2022. When I arrived, the company had equipment, employees, and biomass, but the operations needed optimization. My initial focus was on achieving consistency and preparing the existing equipment for efficient use.

MyCannabis: Tell me about the challenges you faced in scaling up and optimizing the extraction process.

Kyle: The major challenge was adapting large-scale equipment from industries like oil and gas for cannabis extraction. Our facility looks more like a refinery than a typical cannabis extraction setup. We had to make equipment meant for other purposes work together seamlessly. The learning curve was steep, especially with machines like massive dewatering centrifuges used in oil and gas. Our goal was to achieve consistency and, in the second year, scale up production.

MyCannabis: What about the focus on quality improvement and cost optimization?

Kyle: Our cost optimization benefits from the scale we operate at. The more biomass we process, the more profitable we become. We also focus on flexibility by processing a wide range of CBD percentages in biomass. Automation is key to improving consistency and efficiency. On the quality side, we're enhancing our initial extraction processes, implementing cold ethanol extraction, and working towards a fully closed-loop system.

MyCannabis: Let's talk about products. Currently, you're focusing on distillate. Any plans to shift towards isolates?

Kyle: Distillate is our main focus now, but we're working on finishing our isolation system. Isolates, with their higher purity, flexibility, and international transport capability, are appealing. We see a growing demand for isolates, so we're planning to shift towards them, likely by the end of Q2.

MyCannabis: Looking ahead, do you see Samson Extracts isolating other cannabinoids besides CBD?

Kyle: While we've focused on CBD, we're open to exploring other cannabinoids. We previously worked with CBG and CBN in the marijuana industry. However, any expansion into isolating other cannabinoids would likely come after perfecting our CBD processes.

MyCannabis: What has been the most significant challenge and success for Samson Extracts so far?

Kyle: The major challenge has been fine-tuning and installing equipment. Success in one area often led to new challenges elsewhere in our large-scale operation. One notable success was reaching the milestone of extracting over a million pounds of hemp biomass in a year. Looking ahead, our goals include extracting 2.8 to 3 million pounds in 2024, with a strong focus on quality improvement and the launch of our isolation system.

MyCannabis: Lastly, any thoughts on working with farmers and expanding Samson Extracts' impact in Alabama?

Kyle: We're actively working with farmers, especially in Kentucky, to build a strong supply network. Our goal is to instill confidence in farmers, ensuring a commitment to purchasing their product. This year, we're putting a significant focus on building a direct-to-farmer relationship, aiming to encourage more farmers to participate in the industry.

MyCannabis: Thank you for sharing your insights, Kyle. It's been a pleasure discussing Samson Extracts and your experiences in the cannabis industry.

It was a great pleasure to have this conversation with Kyle Neathery is the CEO of Samson Extracts. Readers wishing to learn more about Samson Extracts are encouraged to check out their website.

 

Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.