Meet Amarillo Snuff!
Tell us about yourself and your business.
I was born and raised in Missouri, close to St. Louis. My father was raised on a farm in Illinois and was a chemist with Monsanto. Growing up, I was exposed to both science and agriculture and ended up getting a Ph.D. in ruminant (cattle) nutrition. My main job is an independent feedlot nutritionist for feedlots in the Great Plains. My hobby is inventing.
On a Sunday afternoon in the fall of 2013, I was tired of working, sat down to watch a movie, and decided on “The Tourist” starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie (it’s a good movie). In the opening scene, Jolie is walking down the aisle of a train car trying to recognize her boyfriend who had had plastic surgery to hide from a Russian mob boss. Depp is smoking an electronic cigarette (back in 2013, vaping was new). I had never seen such a device and put the movie on pause to search it on Google. After learning about it, I thought “why not put nicotine into a tobacco substitute to make a safer snuff”? Easier said than done…
The next five years was spent trying to perfect the idea. Finding the right tobacco substitute, the right grind, the right flavors, etc., etc., turned out to be a lot of work. A sign with Thomas Edison’s quote “I have not failed, I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” hung in the lab and gave me inspiration after yet another failure.
In the end, I believe we have developed an excellent product. The use of corn husks is patented as the tobacco substitute. Husks are flavorless and odorless and allow crisp, clean flavors and aromas. The grind supports a solid pack with few floaters. There is no bad breath or heartburn. Most importantly, it provides an alternative to tobacco. To the best of anyone’s knowledge, there is nothing in corn husks that is carcinogenic (cancer causing). Hardly a week goes by that someone doesn’t thank us for helping them get off tobacco.
What made you become an entrepreneur?
Growing up on a farm, you learn to solve your own problems, and I always enjoyed coming up with creative solutions. My dad was an inventor even though he worked for a large company. Early in my career I worked for a couple large companies and was frustrated by the bureaucracy, so found it easier to work for myself.
What do you find special about the entrepreneur community in Amarillo?
People are very helpful to one another. We listen to each other’s problems and freely offer potential solutions. It is not competitive; we all want to see each other succeed.
What’s a celebration you want to share with the community about your business that has happened in 2020?
We worked with a previous recipient of the Enterprise Challenge, Midwest Machine, to develop a unique piece of equipment to improve our efficiency and cost of manufacturing. They were absolutely great to work with and really helped us.
When did you realize you were an entrepreneur?
My first invention was a treatment for fescue toxicosis in the early 90s, and I have been inventing ever since. I have about a dozen patents. I have always passed off the inventions to somebody else for business development, but Amarillo Snuff is the first company where I have been involved in the actual business.
To learn more about Amarillo Snuff, click here!