The e-cigarette industry has boomed in recent years to become a multibillion dollar market. But, the behind-the-scenes manufacturing of the juices made to be vaped can be a bit foggy.
Josh Brown, CEO of Vape Inc. in Carbondale, is not afraid to show how his company makes it product. And according to him, he is one of few that is willing to do so.
“Any idea people have about making juice should start with a lab,” he said. “The reason we show off our lab because we are very transparent about what we do.”
That is why he built his own lab at in Murphysboro. He said the company is up front with anybody who wants to look at it and he will explain how the process is done.
Brown said the lab wasn’t necessary, nor did the Jackson County Health Department have to inspect it.
He said a lot of the bigger labs that have nice facility typically don’t want people see what is inside of them because the owners feel like there is something proprietary about it. Other smaller organizations don’t like to disclose where its products are made because it could be made in somebody’s living room, he said.
“There is nothing stopping people from mixing up juices in their driveway if they wanted,” Brown said. “Rather than the ethical dilemma you would face in doing something of that nature.”
He said as a business owner and a consumer he would welcome more regulations on where the manufacturing process took place. Even if it was somebody who went to the vape shops and inspected where the product is being manufactured.
Nathan Colombo, Brown’s business partner, said the vape industry has been good about self-regulation and setting standards, but as with any self-regulation, it’s not possible to enforce on individual manufacturers.
“I hope forthcoming regulations establish lawful standards and practices which mimic current industry standards,” he said. “Our current fear, beyond being deemed a tobacco product and forcibly regulated from existence, is that forthcoming regulations will be financially unattainable and push small businesses such as ours (who operate with limited capital) out of the market.”
Until that happens, Colombo said, the business will keep operating at and above current industry standards.
As for the regulations at its own facility, Brown said he holds himself to a very high standard. Each bottle has a mandated label placed on it. From that label, there is number that he can trace back to when the flavoring was ordered.
“Every bottle we have ever made, we can trace it back to its original components,” he said.
When the lab is in production, Brown said the entire place is shut down and nobody comes in or out of the lab except for the person making the product.
“This lab goes complete green,” he said.
Before the product process, Brown has the responsible for making sure all the juices are safe for vaping, meaning without diacetyl, acetone or any other harmful chemicals.
“Every element that goes into the flavors is vetted,” he said.
Although the fact Vape Inc. makes its own juice which helps improve the bottom line for the business, Brown said that isn’t the whole reason he does it.
He said he wants to the business to be transparent and do things the right way, and manufacturing his own product helps with inventory control. He said the ordering process from juice companies can be time-consuming, and there are issues with product available for customers.
“Since we manufacture our own juice, the turnaround time is much faster than having to order it,” Brown said.