Q&A with Michael Poleselli
Cannabinoid Testing and Quality: Michael Poleselli on the VivAssure Standard
Michael Poleselli has been with Vivion, Inc. for 32 years, starting out as warehouse manager, then purchasing and sales (primarily nutritional and personal care but also food and industrial) and eventually management and president. Selling a specialty product or a solution became his passion in growing Vivion. Poleselli’s goal was to make sure the company focused more on satisfying customers in a timely fashion and to give them more information than they needed. Poleselli is involved in various industry groups including IFT and SCC. He started Vivion’s division Vivion Specialties, to focus on specialty products and to use that as a platform for acquisitions. In 2019, Vivion purchased GCI Nutrients Canada to help expand its business into Canada.
This interview was originally published in Nutraceuticals World
420AC: How much testing do your cannabinoid products go through?
Poleselli: As we are dealing with the farmer to the extractor, there is quite a bit of testing. Each crop is tested for CBD in the field before it is harvested. After the plants are dried, they are sent to the extractor who then does another test. Once the product is extracted to an isolate, distillate, nano, or water-soluble product it goes through a third-party lab for a more extensive testing protocol. Then it comes to Vivion Specialties for the VivAssure testing.
420AC: What does your VivAssure process consist of?
Poleselli: Once we receive the CBD, the product is tested by yet another independent third-party ISO-accredited lab. The testing consists of a full panel of herbicides, pesticides, and toxins. The product is also tested for 24 heavy metals, a full micro panel, and a cannabinoid profile (including THC content).
420AC: What type of products do you sell?
Poleselli: We sell a full complement of products. CBD Isolate, CBD Distillate—Full and Broad Spectrum (THC Compliant), 20% Isolate water-soluble Nano, 20% Broad Spec Water soluble Nano, 25% water dispersible, CBG, and CBN.
420AC: Where will the most significant growth occur in your company in the next few years?
Poleselli: I see the growth occurring initially in the CBD product portfolio as this is the most well-known. Over the next year or two as CBG and CBN are isolated and extracted more effectively and more testing is done on these products, I see these and other cannabinoids and terpenes growing rapidly as well. Many of the specific cannabinoids work more effectively with the endocannabinoid system in targeting the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
420AC: In what direction do you see the supplement industry moving with the arrival of the cannabinoid market?
Poleselli: We are now waiting to see what the FDA proposes. Based on my many conversations with technical people in the industry who work closely with the FDA, and my research, my gut says the FDA is going to do a couple things. No one knows for sure, but I believe there will be a recommended dosage level (until more testing is done for its safety and efficacy) and they will require NDIs (New Dietary Ingredient Notifications) for all products. I believe many supplement companies will start moving forward with product introductions because they don’t want to be left behind and the other group will start formulating and preparing for when the FDA releases their regulations. One of the things we are doing with our extractors is to work with them in getting Self-Affirmed Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) and an NDI, as it will show the industry this company is in it for the long haul and not the quick buck.
420AC: Are there any mistakes you are aware of that are being made by cannabinoid retail product manufacturers in their development or marketing process?
Poleselli: The retail market for CBD products is all over the board. Unfortunately, there are no clear definitions of what should be on the label. Many products are mislabeled, either with the type of product, the CBD content, the nutritional panel, product contains THC, or making unsubstantiated claims. Many have heard of consumer groups testing 20+ products and finding many of the products didn’t have the CBD content they claimed or there was THC in the product. This gives the industry and the CBD market a bad reputation—much like the supplement industry 25-30 years ago. One of the things we are offering our customers is to VivAssure and license their finished product with our VivAssure brand. That way consumers are guaranteed the level of CBD and THC content. We have done some testing already for customers and in some cases found too much of one heavy metal in their finished product. That is the benefit of the VivAssure testing; the manufacturer can be sure they are sending out a clean product.
420AC: What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
Poleselli: I must decide regularly in what direction we want to take our company. Like most companies, we want to grow our business, but to do so we need to be customer centric—and that customer can be external (the partners we sell to and buy from) and internal (our employees). We have to take care of all of them and the growth will happen. We need to treat every customer with a high degree of moral integrity, respect, honesty, professionalism, dedication, and service. If we take care of our customer, they will take care of us. The second most important aspect is making sure we source high quality products with high quality suppliers. Our name and reputation stands behind every product. If we don’t have a sourcing partner that understands the complexities and requirements of the marketplace than chances are we will not be dealing with them. Our partners must have the same principles we have, the high-quality production standards—which equates to a quality finished product, and documentation that shows they meet all the standards, including our VivAssure standard.
420AC: From a business point of view, what keeps you up at night?
Poleselli: Our team is very important to me, both personally and professionally. When a team member is having difficulties for some reason, either personally or professionally, I take it personally. I ask myself, what can I do to serve this team member? I want to be able to make each person the best they can be and that keeps me awake trying to figure out how to resolve the issue. Sometimes there is nothing I can do about the situation but listen and be a lending ear. Other times, we work together to come up with a plan. Worrying about new regulations or new laws or enforcement actions or why sales are down or why a big customer went elsewhere won’t change anything so there is no need to lose sleep. We deal with each situation as it arises. I don’t worry about that stuff so much because at the end of the day, we as a company, can only do what we can do and work to the best of our capabilities. Our team on the other hand, are here (on this earth) for a lifetime and they matter.