Edward Querfeld: Filling The Need for Cannabis Automation

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Edward Querfeld – CEO/CTO of Robotanical

Edward Querfeld is the CEO/CTO, visionary and strategist for Robotanical, a packaging and automation solutions company that provides products designed to meet the challenges of filling vape pens and cartomizers with botanical oils, tinctures, and other derivations. Years ago, Edward left a Fortune 100 company and jumped into the ‘dot.com’ boom right as it was leveling off. Not wanting to make that mistake again, he saw a parallel opportunity in the cannabis industry and dove in head first. Edward’s years of experience applying state of the art technology solutions in the aerospace and semiconductor industries have allowed Robotanical to successfully fill a niche in the cannabis industry. Robotanical‘s first product, the AtomFill, started as an automated dispensing machine, the goal being to eliminate human error & reduce waste in the process. AtomFill has evolved into a modular platform that can be adapted for various producer/processor workflows, extracts and retail packaging that their customers require. It also helps the producer/processor manage compliance with automated reporting tools. But enough about AtomFill. How did Edward make his way into the cannabis space? Why? Recently Edward to a moment to fill our atoms with this information.

What was the deciding factor for you to join the cannabis industry?

In 2000, I jumped ship from a Fortune 100 process automation company to a then unknown software services & consulting company. I learned a great deal from this transformation, but knew that the “dot.com” boom had passed me by. I made a vow that I would not let another opportunity like that pass me by. In late 2013, I realized that there was a huge opportunity for providing automation solutions for cannabis producers & processors and have never looked back. One of Robotanical’s goals is to help bring production and processing standards up to par with industry leaders in food, pharma & agriculture. Traceability, compliance and repeatability will be required and we will help our customers hit those marks. This will help to legitimize what’s seen as an illegitimate industry.

In late 2013, I realized that there was a huge opportunity for providing automation solutions for cannabis producers & processors and have never looked back.

What skills from your previous careers or experiences have helped you in what you are doing now?

My primary skillset has revolved around listening to people, coming up with a solution and executing that vision. Decision makers may fall anywhere in the food chain, from CEOs to end users. For a high-value product like cannabis oil, concerns will range from profitability to line worker safety to “getting what I paid for.” The design of the AtomFill facilitates all of those things through platform flexibility & simplifying life for our customers.

Tell me about the point in time you realized the ‘green rush’ was coming?

Once I realized that automated packaging of cannabis oil was a difficult problem to solve, it didn’t take long to commit to designing our first machine. Garth (Morgan), Robotanical’s COO, had been watching the industry for some time. He was the first person I contacted to see if he wanted to ride the “green wave”. To my surprise and utter delight, he didn’t hesitate.

The status quo in packaging cannabis oil is to inject it straight into cartridges or pens by hand with syringes. It’s wasteful, slow and hopelessly inaccurate.

What in particular are you doing to impact the cannabis industry?

The status quo in packaging cannabis oil is to inject it straight into cartridges or pens by hand with syringes. It’s wasteful, slow and hopelessly inaccurate. Employee health can be compromised by repetitive strain injuries & exposure to hazardous substances. The lack of accuracy further undermines control, profitability and legitimacy of reporting for regulatory compliance. The AtomFill addresses all of these issues while offering the added benefit of tamper-proofing cartridges, a concern of some of our customers. By reducing the handling of the oil and packaging, our customers and their end users will have greater confidence in the supply chain.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a builder and keenly interested in creating products that make a difference in people’s lives.

Who is a person that you consider your role model or someone who has been a mentor to you? How did this person impact your life?

There have been many but what I value in those relationships is integrity, creativity, persistence, experience and common sense. These are the sort of people that make a good team even better.

Join the ranks: Are you a CEO, entrepreneur or someone in the cannabis industry who's making an impact? We'd like to hear your story!

Tell me about an esteemed achievement of yours.

In my professional career, I can’t point to one thing and say, “I did that.”  Every success I have had has been part of or in support of a group effort. Some of these successes have resulted in products and some were validation of the project itself. When a team combines a unified vision with good collaboration, great products can be the result. I believe Robotanical is really onto something and will be my biggest achievement yet.

How would you advise someone who wants to get his or her start in the industry?

Collaborate, collaborate and collaborate. What’s exciting about this industry is the wide range of talent, skillsets and backgrounds leaving established industries and jumping into the cannabis space. Robotanical would not be where it is without networking and working with others in complementary areas. Patience is also a key skill, it’s go, go, go in this industry, but without careful planning and execution, you will set yourself up for failure. Lastly, find a good partner or two, they’ll be your best reality check.

Creating something that addresses specific needs felt by the broadest audience is the key to a great product.

What inspires you? Where do your great ideas come from?

For as long as I can remember, I have been a builder and keenly interested in creating products that make a difference in people’s lives. Sometimes that means making something beautiful; sometimes the driver is pure utility. I draw inspiration from a range of products and people, be it an anonymous Italian espresso maker to a bridge by Calatrava. I have had the privilege of working with some truly gifted people over the years. Through observation and practice I find that with care I can unite aesthetic and utility for an elegant, impactful and truly useful solution.  

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader in this space?

From a company perspective, listening, studying, building, testing and rebuilding. Anybody can design and build a widget to solve a problem. Creating something that addresses specific needs felt by the broadest audience is the key to a great product. The leadership will come through establishing Robotanical as a forerunner of reliability and compliance solutions for this industry. As we increase our role in production and processing, and help to build the legitimacy of this new industry, we strive to set a high bar for those that follow.

Every success I have had has been part of or in support of a group effort.

If we are sitting across from each other a year from now, how do you think our conversation about the ‘green rush’ will be going?

The industry will be a different animal by then with more states getting on board, more positive legislation being introduced and new standards being set. It would serve us all well to study what happened after the Volstead Act was repealed and not repeat those mistakes. In that we have a common goal, and I believe Robotanical will take the lead in equipment that serves that end.

How do you think the implementation of automated machines will impact the cannabis industry? Join the conversation and comment below!

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