"If you have a college degree that's swell. If you're an engineer, I would actually prefer you don't be an engineer. I prefer that you be a MacGyver. I want somebody that can take duct tape and a paper clip and turn it into a rocket ship…We work closely as a team...I am not the smartest person in the room, but I surround myself with people that complement each other with their strengths." - Mary Babitz
The story of how Cascade Science has taken the cannabis industry by storm begins with a young man walking into an equipment manufacturer, cash in hand, to purchase a six-figure drying oven. Nothing odd there - aside from everything. It was the increasing frequency of these moments that prompted Mary to explore the notion that their products, while designed with quality, safety, and cutting-edge tech for the likes of NASA, pharmaceutical and aeronautical industries, could serve an unintended purpose for an entirely different customer base.
Not only is she one of the most prominent driving forces behind post-processing equipment - from vacuum, and decarb, to drying, homogenization, isolation and crystallization reactors - Mary is the epitome of savvy in a not so linear line of work. Over the years, she's pivoted her business to serve a booming industry, paved the way for female entrepreneurship in a male-dominant industry, and is always the first to say that the best way to succeed is to surround yourself with MacGyvers.
[1:07] Jason and Joel welcome their next guest Mary Babitz, with a quick jog on her path with the company where she hangs her hat as President.
[4:03] Jumping further into that story Mary talks about the origins of Cascade Sciences from rocket scientists, big pharma, and aerospace up to about six years ago when cannabis came calling. Once they were able to understand the needs of these clients, Cascade was able to dial in and tailor their products for the industry. Mary’s favourite Google review “Whether you buy or not, these folks will educate you.”
[11:22] With a change in their business practices, banking, and accepting cash payment, Cascade found that the rock-solid business relationships they counted on, began to become more complicated. Mary started to hear things like “reputational risk” which hurt when they had spent so much time mindfully creating a responsible, community-minded business. As with Joel’s experience, it can sometimes be the cost of pioneering.
[16:50] As legalization becomes a reality in more jurisdictions across the U.S., Mary explains some of the changes they are seeing through the lens of Cascade Sciences, including a shift in industrial farming to get on the hemp wagon. Joel and Jason talk about the market in Canada from the extraction lens and the excitement from all botanical producing industries to have a first-rate extraction system. Mindset changes are becoming very apparent.
[22:27] Mary describes what Cascade Sciences does and how they walk through the process with their clients. As early adopters they had the luxury of crafting the tweaks and optimizations that the equipment needed for processors to excel in the cannabis space. Thankfully, their experience to that point had already geared them to produce equipment with the highest degree of reliability for a demanding environment. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as putting the cannabis on one side and a gummy bear pops out the other, but it may have produced a great tagline for them! #getyoutothegummy
[26:19] With a lot of information out in social media, but little knowledge or good science to back it up, Mary and her team have worked to close the gap and educate people which sometimes means having to disagree with some popular influencers in the industry. To check out Cascade on social see the links above.
[28:35] Mary shares a story about how the high-quality education on Cascade’s YouTube channel is having a positive impact on manufacturers who can’t otherwise find the good technical information they need as it relates to the cannabis industry.
[31:18] Building a team at Cascade is less about the degree you have and more about the fit. As a collaborative leader, Mary loves to have someone creatively catch her attention and then find a place for them in the company which isn’t always what they’ve applied for. As Joel will agree, hiring is all about people first. Attention all MacGyvers – this may be a good fit for you.
[35:40] Mary describes the journey of Cascade Sciences as a small business that has grown into a dominant player. The emerging cannabis market has helped to propel and broaden their growth substantially.
[41:12] What is Mary most excited about both for the future of their business along with the future for other small businesses in the cannabis market? In a developing industry, it is an incredible time for people to showcase what they have already been doing plus introduce new products and make improvements on existing ones. The prospects feel deeply rewarding.
[47:15] Mary sees that we’re at that game-changing point where people are starting to see the science behind this industry and she is engaging with the same calibre of people in conversations about pharmaceuticals and aerospace alongside cannabis and botanicals. Their end game is the same – to have consistency and reliability of input as well as output.
[51:25] With an increase in FDA regulations as the industry grows, Mary discusses the spectrum on which regulations sit from the positive side of safety standards and consistency to the work that needs to be done in institutions like banking and tax structures. Plus, the role that GMP will inevitably play in the United States and is already playing in Canada. Businesses are going to have to be nimble and flex to the increasingly higher standards being pushed out. “The most expensive piece of equipment that you can buy, is the one you have to buy twice. – Mary Babitz”
[57:37] Innovations in industry equipment. Mary offers her perspective on the top three areas research and development needs to go: improved automated controls, better batch data collection, and increased rigorous testing. Jason also talks about selling the “Unicorn.”
[61:47] Having been in the industry for a time, Mary talks about mistakes, teachable moments and having a heart in business.
[65:47] Post-processing equipment: Mary walks through the experience a potential customer can expect when they come to Cascade Sciences to purchase equipment. It is very much aligned with the philosophy of Vitalis Extraction Technologies. Honesty and integrity.
[72:12] When it comes to companies like Cascade or Vitalis, treat them like a part of the infrastructure vs. a vendor of equipment. Engage early, decide what equipment makes sense, map it out and build in fail-safes.
[74:22] Wrapping things up, how to reach Mary, and her appreciation for Vitalis Extraction Technologies!
Hosted by Joel Sherlock & Jason Laronde, Vitalis brings you wise, humorous and sometimes shocking conversations with entrepreneurs and extraction industry innovators on 'The Extraction Insiders'.