Cameron Truesdell and his nephew, Drew Truesdell, have traveled vastly different paths in their careers.
Cameron made his fortune in the stodgy, conservative insurance industry, starting and selling two national companies and also building a 200-unit resort in Mexico in between; Drew jumped into the exciting, but still controversial, world of cannabis. Even as cannabis crossed over into the mainstream, Cameron never envisioned the two would end up in business together.
But as regulations evolved for hemp-derived products and the popularity of CBD exploded throughout North America, they combined their talents to start Simpurity, a boutique manufacturing company based in Colorado.
“It was probably an unlikely alliance, but he’s wickedly smart and he definitely has a passion for the business,” Cameron says of Drew. “He’s kind of the brains of everything, and I’m more just the conventional business guy.”
“Cameron’s like my dad, so we have normal dad-son relationships where sometimes we butt heads, but we always make up,” says Drew, the company’s chief scientific officer.
Along with co-founders Jonas Roeser and Frank Zajic, the Truesdells have built a family business that also includes Cameron’s son, Parker, and daughter, Madisun. Simpurity is probably “my last hurrah,” says Cameron, the company’s CEO, who sees it as an opportunity to pass his experience on to the next generation as he nears the end of his career. At the pinnacle of his career in long-term care insurance, Cameron was overseeing 68 offices nationally with about 1,200 employees and yearly premiums of $330 million. While Simpurity may never reach the size of his insurance enterprises, Cameron understands the complexities of scaling a company. And though any family-run company is bound to have its share of ups and downs, Simpurity benefits from everybody pulling in the same direction.
“There’s a cohesion that comes from trusting the next person in the company’s organizational chart,” says Roeser, the company’s chief marketing officer. “When you’re working with your family, you never want to let them down. You’re able to leave some of the B.S. behind.”
With the CBD industry exploding over the past year, Simpurity has taken a different path than most producers. Rather than going all-in on its own branded products, Simpurity has focused on manufacturing white-label and private-label products for other companies. The company built its entire state-of-the-art facility within the past year to manufacture everything from tinctures and topicals to bath bombs and smokable hemp products.
“There are so many people trying to create brands, but most people don’t have the know-how or often the desire to build a facility for manufacturing, so it’s a perfect fit for us to private label or white label their products,” Cameron says.
“We thought it was easier to sell to the entrepreneur who already had a vision of their own brand instead of trying to make a national brand from the get-go,” Roeser says. “Not everyone is great at this. They might have a great idea, but it doesn’t mean they’re a great businessperson.”
With so many brands flooding the market, that approach also gave Simpurity a solid foundation, as some companies succeed and grow, while others inevitably fail. It also allowed the company to gather data about industry trends and refine its manufacturing procedures in preparation for launching its own Simpurity brand in January.
Cameron says he expects the company to have distribution in major retailers in the first quarter of 2020. Despite the roll-out of the company’s retail brand, white labeling and private labeling will continue to be a core piece of Simpurity’s business.
The Simpurity brand also gives the company’s formulation team more flexibility to be creative and develop novel products for an ever-changing market. The company currently sources about 90% of its hemp material from the Grand Junction area of Colorado because, Drew says, he finds it has better terpene and cannabinoid levels, and those farmers tend to use permaculture and organic techniques and avoid pesticides.
“We want organic and clean,” he says.
Simpurity takes the same approach with its manufacturing facility, which was designed with ISO and GMP standards in mind, and the company is also in the process of transitioning to water extraction to replace the use of solvents and ethanol.
“The facility almost looks like a bio-tech lab,” Cameron says.
It’s part of the company’s unofficial motto: “Less bro, more pro,” Drew says.
And even in the midst of the CBD rush, Drew is looking to the future with CBG and CBN products. CBG has been noted as a sleep aid, while CBN has mildly psychoactive properties and has been known to help with pain and inflammation.
“The nice thing about CBN is that it give people that feeling, without actually being intoxicated,” Drew says. “You don’t drink alcohol because it tastes good, and you don’t smoke weed because you like to inhale carbon monoxide. People want a feeling.”