Behind the Tech: Root Sciences

Experience using extraction and distillation equipment gives Washington company a leg up

One of the things that sets Root Sciences apart from other manufacturers and distributers of extraction and distillation equipment is that the company has hands-on experience with the equipment it sells.

“It’s a team of practitioners who’ve grown up in the industry, who really understand how to apply these technologies to the specific qualities of the cannabis and hemp plants,” says CEO Forrest Diddier.

Before launching the non-plant-touching Root Sciences, the company’s founders were pioneers in Washington’s recreational market, starting Suspended Brands in 2013. Suspended Brands became one of the state’s early leaders in the concentrate market and recognized a need throughout the state.

“They were growing, processing and testing processing solutions,” Diddier says, “but they came to realize there were probably bigger opportunities on the ancillary equipment side of the business.”

The new direction proved fortuitous. While Suspended Brands continues to produce high-quality flower and extracts for the consumer market, Root Sciences doubled its revenue from 2018 to 2019 as a provider of extraction, distillation and other post-processing equipment. And though the entire industry’s slowdown toward the end of 2019 stalled the company’s growth somewhat and the coronavirus pandemic has hit everyone hard in 2020, Diddier says Root Sciences is ready to capitalize when economies begin to reopen and capital begins to flow into the industry again.

“We see ourselves really uniquely positioned as experts in the industry, end-to-end equipment providers with the unique experience of using this equipment that we can actually help clients with,” Diddier says.

Root Sciences is the exclusive U.S. distributer for VTA, a German manufacturer Root Sciences partnered with in 2016 to sell its wiped film distillation machines.

In 2016, Root Sciences became the exclusive U.S. distributor for VTA, a German manufacturer of wiped film distillation machines. Diddier says the equipment helped revolutionize how cannabis and hemp are processed in the United States and fed the boom in the distillates market.

Senior technical director Cory Balma says VTA has a leg up in the distillation sector because it’s been creating these machines since the early 1980s.

When Diddier was brought on as CEO in mid-2019, the company established a partnership with Devex, another German manufacturer, launching a chryo-ethanol extraction machine in December of that year that is aimed at large operations. Root Sciences also partnered with GEA, out of Italy, for nano-emulsification technology that makes a cannabinoid water soluble and allows further processing into a wide range of products.

The company has more than 200 clients in six countries, with plans to launch in Australia and New Zealand later this year. With the signing of the Farm Bill in 2018 that legalized hemp in the U.S., Root Sciences saw another boost in sales, as interest in CBD extraction and distillation exploded all over the world.

“We focus on the larger end of the market on the extraction side,” Diddier says. “We’re getting a lot of international interest on the CBD side right now.”

Diddier says the plan going forward is to continue to be “an end-to-end solutions provider” that offers multiple equipment solutions to meet the needs of clients and helps them determine the best equipment based on the products they want to manufacture.

“We’re seeing a lot of interest from clients in not just a single equipment solution,” he says. “We’re seeing an overall lab solution process they’re looking at.”

There is also a heavy emphasis on R&D, which Diddier calls a “critical” part of the company’s team of 18 full-time employees.

According Balma, the quality of the machines helps set Root Science apart, but he again points to the company’s R&D work and experience in the space as key to its success as the extraction equipment market continues to grow.

“We utilize all the things we sell,” he says, adding that the Root Sciences team has “many, many years of research and development.”

“These are people who understand the processes,” Diddier says of the team. “Our relationship with the client doesn’t end at the point of sale.”

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