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VCET- Cannatrol Company Spotlight

 

Featured on VCET.co

When David and Jane Sandelman relocated to Vermont in 2001, their first entrepreneurial endeavor was putting their spin on the classic Bob Newhart experience.

Having spent several decades immersed in the corporate world in New York, the couple decided to purchase and restore an 18th-century farmhouse in Weathersfield, opening it as the Inn at Weathersfield. They developed the B&B and restaurant during the emergence of Vermont’s farm-to-table movement and made connections with local farms to source their meat, cheese, and produce. Through conversation with local cheesemakers, David learned that one was struggling to control the humidity level in his aging room. A natural tinkerer with expertise in control solutions, he devised “Vaportrol”, a technology leveraging vapor pressure to sustain optimal conditions for drying and curing cheese.  It’s hardly surprising that David – who held 17 patents predating Vaportrol – engineered a product that created the perfect environment for drying and curing. Word of his invention spread among local cheesemakers, soon catching the attention of food-industry consultant, Neville McNaughton, colloquially known as “Dr. Cheese.”

“Dr. Cheese found out about the system and said, ‘Hey, can I take this to some of my customers?’ And next thing we know, we had systems all over North America,” said Jane. “We thought we were retired – jokes on us.”

In 2012, the Sandelmans bid adieu to their B&B, redirecting their focus towards installing hundreds of Vaportrol systems nationwide. Several years later, while attending the American Cheese Society conference in Denver, David connected with one of Colorado’s largest cannabis growers, who struggled with the curing process, too.  When David and Jane gave their Vaportrol technology to a friend to test dry a cannabis flower, they were told they would ‘never get it back’ – it worked that well.

“It quickly became apparent,” David said in an interview with Seven Days, “that what we do for meat and cheese, the same physics apply for the drying and curing of buds.” A product originally designed for cheeses like gouda was now being sought after for ganja. Cannatrol, formally Vermont Dry & Cure Technologies, was born.

A holistic solution for cannabis growers

In the modern cannabis industry, the post-harvest process requires a lot of guesswork.   Following harvest and drying, flowers are sealed within containers and periodically “burped” to remove moisture and prevent mold. Excessive drying makes the plant brittle, while inadequate drying causes mold growth. In both cases, errors consume time and risk product quality. Cannatrol systems offer a comprehensive solution to this common headache, allowing growers to regulate the temperature, dew point, and vapor pressure during the entire post harvest process.

Here’s how it works: Producers put flowers into a Cannatrol system, customize the conditions of the space, and dry it to their desired ‘sweet spot’, which then holds through curing and storage. No guessing, no burping, no hassle. Vaportrol technology ensures a consistent and repeatable product, preserves terpene and cannabinoid levels, and extends the shelf life of flowers. Recent testing indicates that customers can experience yield increases of 5-7% and prefer Cannatrol products by a proportion of 2-to-1 over other drying methods.

cannatrol cool cure unit filled with dried cannabis with clear glass door

“The drying, curing and storage process has always been a bit of a guessing game. Now you’ve got a precision tool to control the final outcome,” said Jane Sandelman in an interview with Marijuana Venture. “You’ve got consistency, you’ve got repeatability, you’ve got reliability — all of those things that you’ve never had in post-harvest before.”

Today, Cannatrol offers three products: the Cool Cure Box, designed for homeowners; the DC Quick Start System, tailored for mid-size enterprises; and custom or retrofit solutions for large operators. Their clientele spans the globe, with authorized dealers in twelve states and six countries, including Australia, Thailand, and Germany. In recent years, Cannatrol’s solutions have earned accolades such as the High Times STASH and Grow Up Industry Awards for the best drying & curing system.

“Here we are selling a product we never intended to sell as a commercial product and it’s selling all over the world,” said Jane.

Optimism for future growth

In order to accommodate their business opportunities, Cannatrol acquired a facility in North Springfield’s industrial park in 2022. The 10,000-foot space accommodates a production facility and office space for the company’s 19 employees. Jane predicts to do more hiring in the future, too, especially in customer service and sales. When Jane reflects on her success, she expresses gratitude for Cannatrol’s partners and investors in the Green Mountain State. Cannatrol has partnered with many professional associations, like the Vermont Cannabis Nurse Association and the Cannabis Research Coalition. VCET, too, has been an investor and supporter since the company’s early days.

“VCET has been super supportive. When we need help and have questions, Sam and Dave are a great sounding board,” said Jane. “[They] have been a huge asset to us.”  Establishing a business in Vermont presents its share of challenges, yet Jane contends that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. “I think sometimes being a little bit remote, we have some logistics challenges. Flying places, it just makes it a little bit of a challenge,” said Jane. “But whenever I come home to Vermont, I always say, oh, yeah, ‘It’s worth it.’” “I don’t think we could have put a team like this together unless we are in Vermont.”

Learn more about Cannatrol’s team, product, and growth here. You can also find them on LinkedIn here.

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