Vertical Co. Announces Kentucky Hemp Operation


Washington, D.C. -- Vertical, one of the nation’s largest integrated hemp companies, will christen its new Trigg County facility on Friday, October 26th. Vertical President Smoke Wallin, COO Drew Milburn and Donald Bramer, Founder, Bramer Group, will also be in attendance.


The facility is part of an initial $5 million investment to cultivate, extract and manufacture a wide-range of Hemp-based Cannabidiol (CBD) products. At full capacity, the facility will employ more than 100 Kentuckians. Vertical is proud to partner with Kentucky farmer Joseph Kelly.


Vertical aims to replicate its proven and effective supply chain methodology as it continues to become an industry leader nationwide. Vertical’s team has a proven record in large-scale brand creation and national rollouts to both hospitality and national retailers. Its brand portfolio includes over a dozen products that currently reach 227 retail distribution outlets. The Trigg County facility will allow for continued expansion as it reaches new customers.


Momentum has been building since The Industrial Hemp Farming Act, first introduced during the 109th Congress, sought to amend the Controlled Substance Act by removing industrial hemp’s classification as a Schedule I substance (21 U.S.C. §§801 et seq.). The current 115th Congress introduced expanded versions of the Act: H.R.5485 and S.2667 respectively. Led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, much of these provisions were included in the Senate-passed 2018 Farm Bill; however, similar pro-Hemp provisions were not part of the House’s version. As a result of their disagreements Congress voted on July 17th to appoint conferees (Roll #336). This allows for conferees, within their committees, to shape the final version of the Farm Bill, to be voted on by Congress. Conferees are still debating the bill’s language even after the current law expired back on September 30th.


Smoke Wallin, President of Distribution, Sales & Marketing at Vertical, is a highly accomplished CEO, Entrepreneur, thought leader and board member with more than 25 years of success across the consumer products, alcohol beverage, distribution and technology industries. His broad areas of expertise include start-ups, branding, marketing innovation, distribution, transformational leadership, sales and business growth. He has extensive experience in regulated industries at the local, state and federal level. After studying the legal medical cannabis industry and recognizing the eventual convergence between legal cannabis and the alcohol beverage industry, Smoke sought out the right company to back with the right team  and best opportunity to become the market leader. He joined Vertical in January 2018 as a partner and President, overseeing Distribution, Sales and Marketing as well as the company’s Investor relations and capital formation.


Throughout his entrepreneurial career, Smoke has founded and built multiple companies and brands including Taliera, a strategic brand company that advises, creates, incubates, introduces and grows brands and companies (Beach Whiskey; American Harvest Organic Vodka; Napa Smith Brewery, Sugar Skull Rum and dozens more), and eSkye Solutions, the leading provider of ecommerce solutions and national account pricing solutions to the industry handling millions of price files for Walmart, Walgreens and others for the largest suppliers in the Spirits and Wine. Early on, Smoke helped build National Wine & Spirits (now RNDC/Breakthru Beverage) into one of the largest distributors of beer, wine and spirits in the US with over $1 billion in beverage sales, 1500 employees and 350 trucks serving more than 36,000 retail accounts.  Smoke’s clients and partners have included 100s of distribution, wine, spirits, beer and non-alcoholic beverage clients globally. He has raised $100s of millions in debt and equity, publicly and privately for his own and client companies. He has acquired, invested in and/or sold dozens of brands and companies and has coached numerous start-ups, CEOs and workout situations to create meaningful value for stakeholders.


Smoke served as Chairman & President of the Wine  &  Spirits  Wholesalers  of  America (WSWA) and Chairman of the Global Beer Wine & Spirits Network for the Young President Organization and serves on the executive board for the YPO Hospitality Network with over 3,000 CEOs. He also served as Chairman of the Board for Junior Achievement of Indiana and the Experiential Learning & Entrepreneurship Foundation (ELEF). He also served as President of the Vanderbilt University Business School Alumni Board. In addition to being a seasoned Board Member of public and private companies, he has also won several awards, including the EY Entrepreneur Award in 2001, IBJ’s “Forty under 40”, and the Vanderbilt Business “Distinguished Alumni Award” in 1998.


A frequent speaker, he has also spoken at Cornell, Dartmouth, USC, and Vanderbilt. Smoke holds an MBA from Vanderbilt University and a BS in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University.

Drew Milburn, Chief Operations Officer at Vertical, started his career in manufacturing and distribution. He used this extensive knowledge to develop very specific turnkey cultivation practices for the growing and processing of Cannabis. This gave rise to his nickname “The Cannabis Professor.” Drew has owned and operated multiple Cannabis Retail, extraction, and cultivation centers in California, Colorado, and Arizona. Drew has been a cannabis consultant to many state and local authorities throughout the U.S. He has also consulted to Health Canada, which runs a National Program for Medical Cannabis in Canada.


As “The Cannabis Professor” he is asked to travel and speak to many audiences about cultivation, extraction and retail operations. Drew spent time in both the U.S. and International markets working with local law enforcement and other government officials in an effort to open compliant, state of the art cannabis centers. He is also active with lobbyists around the globe to help them understand the entire operation and how it affects consumers and authorities, helping them write appropriate rules when bringing their new laws into effect. Drew is a celebrated United States Marine where he served 12 years and was decorated many times for achievement above and beyond the call of duty.


Don Bramer, Founder and Chairman of Bramer Group, is a veteran of both combat and Capitol Hill having served the offices and campaigns of U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell at both the state and national levels. He has served as an appointee under the administration of President George H. W. Bush in the Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Commerce focusing on Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, as well as the Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services on the Advisory Council on Social Security. Additionally, Don has worked at the state and national levels of several key presidential and congressional campaigns, as well as gubernatorial races in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and continues to be actively engaged in the political process.


After 9/11, Don left the political arena and enlisted in the U.S. Navy where he joined a family heritage of military service stretching back to World War II. Over the years, he was called up for multiple deployments with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force (CJSOTF) from 2005–2007 where he operated throughout Iraq as an intelligence officer and senior interrogator. For his tours in Iraq, Don was awarded two Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medals, two Combat Action Badges, the Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and the Iraq Campaign Medal with two stars from the U.S. Department of Defense. In 2009, he received his commission as a Naval Officer and is currently attached to the reserve intelligence staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).


Upon leaving active duty, Don joined the team of Phoenix Consulting, LLC in Alexandria, VA as an instructor & project manager for the development and implementation of intelligence training programs for the Defense Intelligence Agency and other federal agencies. Previously, Don served as the deputy executive director at the national headquarters of Log Cabin Republicans; director of membership for the National Association of Manufacturers. Today, Don serves as an advisory council member of the U.S. Veterans Initiative for Homeless Veterans; an advisory council member of Veterans Campaign; and policy advisor for the Trevor Project.


KENTUCKY PROFILE: Business operations encompass key elements in the CBD distillate supply chain that will support low cost production including:

Necessary state licenses for farmland, facilities, and genetics
Leased 115 acre farmland, equipment, hemp seed and clones to support cultivation of more than 180,000 pounds of biomass
Extraction facilities and equipment capable of annually processing up to 2 million pounds of biomass into as much as 39 million grams of CBD distillate 4) extensive third party farming relationships representing expanded cultivation capacity 5) farming management with a multi-season grow track record and a CBD extraction operator with scale production experience.

VERTICAL HEMP BRANDS: Vertical is focused on building out national brands of Hemp based CBD. Today Vertical has more than a dozen brands in development with some in the market and many launching in the coming year. Vertical’s team is highly experienced in large-scale brand creation and national rollouts to both hospitality and national retailers.

FINANCIAL SUMMARY: The conservative end of financial projections assumes the Kentucky CBD production is capped by the biomass cultivation potential of 115 acres of farmland. This represents 6 million grams of CBD distillate. Assuming $3 per gram sale price, the Kentucky operation would generate approximately $18 million of revenues initially. The Company  expects to contract with KY farmers for Hemp farming providing the fuel for rapid expansion and could build it into a business 10-20 times the initial estimates. The Kentucky venture expects to commence sales in October 2018. At full capacity of phase I of our build out, Vertical Hemp Co. expects to employee over 100 people in KY.

CBD MARKET BACKGROUND: The demand for CBD is projected to rapidly increase. Extracted from the cannabis plant classified as the hemp plant, it is characterized by its lack of psychoactive Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) coupled with its healing capabilities to treat numerous chronic conditions such as pain, anxiety, and epilepsy. Because hemp derived-CBD is federally legal in the United States, there is an established market size for CBD, which was estimated at $202 million in 2017 and top $591 million in 2018. Industry analysts predict the Hemp CBD market could grow in value to $22 billion by 2022.

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