Derek Thomas has always been a natural born leader. For over a decade he focused on fundraising and business development consulting for multiple cannabis firms, until he finally found his home as VP of Business Development at Veritas Farms. He is now responsible for bringing the company’s CBD products to a national corporate scale through a partnership with Kroger Co. Family of Stores.
Thomas is responsible for expanding Veritas Farms’ distribution, leading it to make such a large retail distribution accomplishment. While his resume speaks to a strong backbone of professional experience, Thomas’ monumental success in the cannabis industry is also a result of developing his personal beliefs and feelings on the plant. “I’m passionate about cannabis, its versatile use and humanity’s intimate history with the crop. With my time in the space, I’ve become a more conscientious environmental advocate and embody a low carbon footprint lifestyle,” Thomas told CULTURE.
Thomas’ environmentally conscious approach, business savvy and leadership background has helped Veritas Farms climb to the top rung of the ladder of success.
Veritas Farms was not coincidentally in the right place at the right time; the company’s leadership was strategic in its approach to make Veritas’ products as accessible to customers as possible. Five years ago, Veritas Farms CEO Alexander Salgado foresaw issues, like a lack of quality and transparency, which were sure to plague the CBD industry. From this vision, he decided to create a fully vertically integrated CBD company, which would allow him to operate in the CBD market for the long run.
Then, when the Farm Bill passed in late 2018, Salgado, Thomas and their team noticed that the conversation shifted in regards to CBD being sold at traditional retail chain stores. “We recognized this movement and began implementing strategic conversations to secure partnerships with larger chain stores to not only improve sales and revenue, but overall brand awareness,” Thomas explained. “We took the necessary time to understand the needs of our consumers and how/where they shop. In doing so, we wanted to ensure that we had a presence in all three markets—independent retailers, e-commerce and in national stores.”
“We recognized this movement and began implementing strategic conversations to secure partnerships with larger chain stores to not only improve sales and revenue, but overall brand awareness.”
Many CBD companies would love to have their products sold nationwide in major retail locations. That is the dream. Veritas Farms is now making that dream a reality, with many thanks to its leadership and vision. However, the structure of Veritas Farms is another impressive reason why it is able to accomplish and fulfill this huge distribution opportunity. “Veritas Farms is one of a few fully vertically integrated companies in the industry and operates a 140-acre farm and production facilities in Pueblo, Colorado,” Thomas said. “Here, the brand controls all of its growing, extracting, manufacturing and bottling to ensure the quality, potency and freshness of its products.”
Thomas continued to compare Veritas’ approach to growing hemp to that of a quality wine vineyard, and he explained that the company also similarly focuses on conservation and sustainability.
“We are committed to our community, sourcing locally whenever possible. ?We practice sustainable farming methods, reducing our impact on the land, remembering that future generations of farmers will follow us,” he said. “We never use any pesticides, herbicides or fungicides, and create our own organic fertilizer that helps balance the local ecosystem. We are part of the sustainable agricultural revolution, the phytocannabinoid hemp farm revolution and Colorado farmers who say they are ‘Colorado Proud.’”
“I’m passionate about cannabis, its versatile use and humanity’s intimate history with the crop.”
Advocate for the Future
The CBD industry will continue to grow, and Veritas Farms hopes to see additional retailers join in with Kroger to offer CBD products on their shelves. This is because CBD companies face issues with advertising and marketing, which includes their inability to classify CBD products as medical treatments. “When more retailers get into this space, it will help reduce roadblocks,” Thomas stated.
Thomas recognizes the potential that CBD has to impact the health and wellness industry in a huge way, and his company is proud to help pave the way. “If we can move people away from NSAIDS and opioids and into healthier more holistic options, it would be life changing for countless people.”