Herbal Ingenuity Hunts Worldwide for the Best

Company distributes herbs from around the globe

By
Laura Hill
On Tuesday, September 13, 2016 - 02:25
Wilkesboro, NC - Herbal Ingenuity

Looking for a bit of Missouri Snake Bark? Or maybe a ton of Deer Tongue Bark? How about a few Chaste Tree leaves? If you think a world trip might be in order to find all that exotic stuff, relax. Herbal Ingenuity, right here in Wilkesboro, can get you what you need, in the quantity you need it.

The company has partnered with dozens of growers and buyers from more than 20 countries around the world to import herbs, sustainably grown plant parts and essential oils which it then inspects, cleans and repackages in varying amounts before sending them to manufacturers of dietary supplements, tea, cosmetics, energy drinks and more, as well as to brewers and distillers. Their carefully chosen supply partners can be found as far away as Morocco, Mexico, Bulgaria or Poland or as close as California, Kentucky or North Carolina, and meet stringent standards set by the company.

“We look for people with already established items or crops, or who can transition to growing herbs and spices,” says company co-owner Daniel Vickers. “We want people with the infrastructure already in place. We do organic, conventional and sustainable wild collection, and we always stress the sustainable part.

"We try to find people who follow our same ethics and principals, people who aren’t talking out of one side of their mouths, but then doing something different. People we sell to trust us to go out and authenticate and inspect (supply) stations to make sure of clean, good manufacturing and good sanitation practices.”

Hundreds of Products Available

Herbal Ingenuity’s global supply partners make it possible for the company to regularly provide more than 200 products and up to 400 items if needed, from the commonly known slippery elm bark, which people have used to treat sore throats for generations, to the exotically named star root (used in birthing in Australia) and bloodroot (good for antibacterial uses). The company’s most frequently ordered product is black cohosh, which many people swear is the best treatment for menopausal hot flashes.

While many of the herbs and botanical plants are large crops bought by Herbal Ingenuity’s suppliers, “It could be an individual coming in with a truckload, or a man on a bicycle – you’d be amazed in some countries what they can bring on a bicycle. Some people carry it on their back,” Vickers says.

Once the harvested crops reach Wilkesboro, they are dried, if needed, cleaned, cut and packaged for shipment.

The company, formed in 2015 by Vickers and partners Edward Fletcher, now director of quality, research and sustainability, and Rich Ahrens, now CEO, maintains a farming and collection site in Newland, and a production facility in Wilkesboro. The company employs 14 people, and hopes to increase that to 25 in the next few years. The Wilkesboro facility was created in a long-vacant manufacturing building, where a half-million-dollar rehab included adding specialty machinery.

A Growing Market

Vickers and his partners are enjoying the local and global growth of the herbal/supplements/botanicals industry.

“The market seems to be steadily increasing as people look for ways to keep healthy, live healthier and avoid going to doctors,” Vickers says. “Instead of waiting until they have a problem, people are realizing if they exercise, eat a good diet and take supplements they won’t have that problem.”

While interest in his company’s products is growing, Vickers reminds that the cultivation and use of herbs and botanical plants is actually an old, important part of North Carolina’s history and culture.

“This is not a new concept in North Carolina, herbs and herb gathering. It’s been here for years and, with the fur trade, was one of the first industries in the area,” Vickers says. “It’s been here, but we’re just putting a new spin on it.”

This is not a new concept in North Carolina, herbs and herb gathering. It’s been here for years and, with the fur trade, was one of the first industries in the area

Daniel Vickers

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura Hill is a former reporter/columnist for the Tennessean and a contributor to Journal Communications publications since 1996.