KB Labs – Arizona and Nevada


Mike and Bo of KB Labs take us on a ride in their sweet mobile laboratory. Incredible design goes into making a fully functional lab on wheels!

The following is an interview with industry experts. Growers Network does not endorse nor evaluate the claims of our interviewees, nor do they influence our editorial process. We thank our interviewees for their time and effort so we can continue our exclusive Growers Spotlight service.

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  • Short on time? Check out our shortened article!
  • Mobile Laboratory
  • The Business
  • About KB Labs
  • Resources
  • Comments

  • Abbreviated Article


    Editor’s Note: Growers Network appreciates its readers! If you are limited on time, we are now offering abbreviated versions of our articles. Click below to view.

    Mobile Laboratory


    What was the inspiration behind a mobile laboratory?

    The concept originated when we put ourselves in the growers’ shoes. We asked what was the most frustrating experience for growers when using laboratory testing. Here’s some of the biggest complaints we saw:

    1. Waiting for results meant stock value slowly depreciated.
    2. Feeling like samples for testing went into a magic black box and results were unpredictable.
    3. All the legal concerns associated with shipping samples.
    4. Potential human error from samples getting mixed with other growers’ samples.

    The logical solution to these problems was a mobile laboratory. So we took the idea and introduced it to Shimadzu. At first they were skeptical, but after nearly a year building our prototype, it’s hard to be prouder with the results. Shimadzu regularly sends their representatives to learn about the vehicle.

    Now, we can park our van in front of a greenhouse and basically become an extension of the client’s business, while still being an independent, third party testing service. Clients don’t have to ship their samples, they can ask questions of our techs and learn about the testing services and requirements, and they get same-day results.


    What makes the mobile lab unique?

    We’re the first and only mobile analytical lab in Arizona, as far as we know. We can go to a client’s business and do the testing on-site and get same-day results for them. We can do analysis on every test currently required by Nevadan law, including:

    1. Potency (cannabinoids)
    2. Terpenes
    3. Residual Solvents
    4. Pesticides – Both fungicides and insecticides
    5. Microbiological plating screens

    We can show every client where the specimens are going, and we only ever use samples from the client’s grow. It’s the difference between getting a suit made by a tailor, or buying one off the shelf. We’re the tailor.


    What kinds of concerns would a truly mobile lab have?

    Great question, so a few things are concerns:

    1. Physical size of the lab
    2. Technical constraints of the lab
    3. Insurance for the vehicle

    Physical Space and Technical Constraints

    Two machines are going to be required for laboratory testing regardless of what we do (HPLC and GC-MS). So we designed the interior of the lab around these two machines, and then expanded outwards. Some included in the van were:

    1. Space for two lab technicians to work.
    2. Fume hoods. We don’t want our technicians to accidentally be hotboxing.
    3. Microbiological screening equipment for full service.
    4. Air conditioning and a generator for off-the-grid clients.
    5. Standard laboratory equipment, such as centrifuges and fridges/freezers.

    Insurance

    Because we invested over $1 million into this van, we don’t want to lose our investment in a collision or some kind of accident. This is niche market, so we used a service like Lloyd’s of London to underwrite the insurance for the van. The premium is a bit heftier than it might otherwise be for a normal item, but we expect our premium to gradually diminish.


    The Business


    What has been the reception for the mobile lab?

    We’re one of the first to market with this concept. We’ve repeatedly heard the phrase that it’s a “game-changer,” and many have requested show-and-tells with us to see the unit. The overall response we’ve gotten is quite impressive. We’re picking up more and more clients as people try out the service.


    What advantages might a mail-in lab have over a mobile lab?

    The only advantage a mail-in lab might have over us is in the pricing department, and even then that difference isn’t too significant. Most growers worry more about the lost profits of sitting on their stock than the amount they pay for a laboratory testing.

    The only time a producer might not have this concern is if they are an edibles producer, because their stock tends to be significantly more shelf-stable. They don’t gain any advantage from same-day results if their stock doesn’t depreciate nearly as quickly as raw flower or extracts.

    If you like the abbreviated article, let us know in the survey at the bottom of the article! We’re always interested in hearing your feedback.

    If you want to read more, you can read the full article below.


    Mobile Laboratory


    The concept actually originated when we put ourselves in the growers’ shoes. We asked ourselves… what would be the most frustrating experience as it pertains to laboratory testing? Here’s what we came up with:
    1. Sitting on your stock for a month, as it gradually loses value (because it’s an agricultural product) while you wait for results.
    2. Feeling like your samples for testing are going into a magic black box, and not being certain why you’re failing or passing.
    3. Shipping samples to laboratories and all the legal concerns associated with shipping your samples.
    4. Potential human error from your samples getting mixed with other growers.

    So after we identified these issues, we asked ourselves what the solution was. And the logical conclusion was a mobile laboratory. We were aware that the military has mobile analytical testing units designed for testing soil around nuclear facilities and potential chemical hazard sites, so we knew that the technology existed.

    So we took the idea and introduced it to Shimadzu. At first they were skeptical, but they agreed to give it a try and help us out. It took nearly a year to build our prototype (the current version), and it’s hard to be prouder with the results. Even Shimadzu regularly sends their representatives to learn about the vehicle and what we did with it.

    Now, we can park our van in front of a greenhouse and basically become an extension of the client’s business, while still being an independent, third party testing service. Clients don’t have to ship their samples, they can ask questions of our techs and learn about the testing services and requirements, and they get same-day results. We can even help smaller growers out who want to do laboratory testing before the final samples, but can’t afford their own personal lab.

    We plan on adding more vans to our fleet and expanding our operations to Nevada and California. As cannabis spreads across the states, we hope to expand elsewhere too.

    We’re the first and only mobile analytical lab in Arizona, as far as we know. We can go to a client’s business and do the testing on-site and get same-day results for them. We can do analysis on every test currently required by Nevadan law, including:
    1. Potency (cannabinoids)
    2. Terpenes
    3. Residual Solvents
    4. Pesticides – Both fungicides and insecticides
    5. Microbiological plating screens

    We’re fully ISO 17025 compliant as well. We can show every client where the specimens are going, and we only ever use samples from the client’s grow. Normal brick-and-mortar laboratories will often run several companies’ samples together in order to most efficiently use their systems and their standards (which are expensive), and this can result in human error. With our system, we are only getting samples from one source. It’s the difference between getting a suit made by a tailor, or buying one off the shelf.

    Now, some have also asked us about conducting sampling for our clients (Editor’s Note: It was meeeee). Currently, there aren’t any state laws that required third party sampling practices, but we are equipped or can equip ourselves to do so should that ever become required at some point. Most clients don’t ask for it currently.

    Great question, so a few things are concerns:
    1. Physical size of the lab
    2. Technical constraints of the lab
    3. Insurance for the vehicle

    Physical Space and Technical Constraints

    As far as the physical size and space in the lab goes, we had to take several things into consideration. Namely, two machines (HPLC and GC-MS) are going to be required for regardless of what we do. So we designed the interior of the lab around these two machines, and then expanded outwards. Some of the things we also wanted to include in the van were:

    1. Space for two lab technicians to work, as laboratories work best when technicians can cross-check each other’s work.
    2. Fume hoods. We don’t want our technicians to accidentally be hotboxing from the fumes produced by the various pieces of equipment.
    3. Microbiological screening equipment for the full-service experience.
    4. Air conditioning and a generator in case our clients are growers who are off the grid.
    5. Other useful laboratory equipment, such as centrifuges, fridges/freezers, and all the tools that accompany most labs.

    We built small-scale mock-ups of the van beforehand, which helped determine what we could and couldn’t live without, and we ended up with something a bit like a food truck that was capable of doing testing, instead of kitchen work.


    Left: Modern GC-MS machine | Right: Modern HPLC machine

    Insurance

    Insurance is another big concern important to such a vehicle. Because we invested over $1 million into this van, we don’t want to lose our investment in a collision or some kind of accident. Because this is a new product to market in a (currently) niche market, we used a service like Lloyd’s of London to underwrite the insurance for the van. Because it is the first of its kind (that we know of), the premium is a bit heftier than it might otherwise be for a normal item. But, we expect that as the idea catches on more, our premium will gradually diminish.


    The Business


    Truthfully, we’re one of the first to market with this concept. We’ve repeatedly heard the phrase that it’s a “game-changer,” and many have requested show-and-tells with us to see the unit. Even Shimadzu keeps sending out their representatives to learn about the unit.

    The overall response we’ve gotten is quite impressive. We’re picking up more and more clients as people try out the service.

    We’re not opposed to consulting for clients, but that’s not our main focus. When we started KB Labs, we decided that our focus was going to be on helping our clients in the most efficient way possible. Other laboratory services occasionally delve into research (such as Steep Hill) or into consulting, but we’re focused almost exclusively on our clients. There’s several reasons we chose this route:
    1. Our clients will always need third-party testing, due to regulations and conflicts-of-interest if they build their own lab.
    2. The initial investment into building an in-house laboratory for most growers is too great a cost. For the larger growers out there, it’s reasonable to establish one, but for most growers it’s just not economical.
    3. Laws and regulations around laboratories require a significant amount of effort to stay up-to-date with. Expanding our business into other pursuits might lead to unforeseen consequences. We want to stay focused on the work that brings the most value to our clients.
    The only advantage a mail-in lab might have over us is in the pricing department, and even then that difference isn’t too significant. Most growers worry more about the lost profits of sitting on their stock than the amount they pay for a laboratory testing.

    The only time a producer might not have this concern is if they are an edibles producer, because their stock tends to be significantly more shelf-stable. They don’t gain any advantage from same-day results if their stock doesn’t depreciate nearly as quickly as raw flower or extracts.


    About KB Labs


    KB Labs is short for “Kanna-Bosm Labs LLC”. Kanna-Bosm comes from the Hebrew Bible, and it means “stick of incense”. Cannabis was traditionally used in ancient Hebrew culture to make holy anointing oil, as well as the traditional uses for hemp as a fiber for clothes and rope.

    Editor’s Note: The spelling of “Kanna-Bosm” in the original text differs depending on your translation, sometimes it’s spelled Kaneh Bosm, Keneh Bosem, Kineboisin or Q’aneh Bosm.

    What sets us apart is that we are the first and only mobile analytical laboratory in Arizona. All other laboratories we have seen are brick and mortar. Because we are mobile, we can go to clients’ businesses and perform testing on-site.

    We spent over $1 million to equip our van with top-of-the-line Shimadzu Analytical equipment so that we can perform every laboratory test required by the law in Nevada and Arizona, and hopefully California. Our clients can see exactly what we do with each specimen and watch as we work, if they feel so inclined.

    Bo Lerer: I was born in Israel, but I’ve lived in Arizona for over 30 years now, and I originally came from the healthcare industry. I started in pharmaceuticals with Bristol-Meyers for several years, and eventually went on to work in the cancer diagnostics market. During that time, I decided to start my own business that was a molecular diagnostics lab for doctors.

    I eventually decided to start KB labs with the focus of serving the cannabis industry. I made sure that KB labs was up to the same standards that the medical laboratories I worked with were.

    Mike Kiselnik: I’ve been an Arizona native for over 20 years now. I say native, I moved to the state a long time ago, but feel like a native. In my adult years, I saw one of my friends who served in the armed forces get stuck in an opioid addiction loop. It was pretty awful. Eventually, he managed to break the cycle with cannabis. It treated his pain and his addiction at the same time.

    Seeing that transformation made me do my own research, and I saw that there was a need for laboratory services for cannabis producers in Arizona. I knew Bo from a while ago, and together we worked on the idea for a mobile lab.



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    Want to get in touch with KB Labs?

    You can reach them via the following methods:

    1. Website: http://kblabsaz.com/
    2. Phone: 602-321-5695
    3. Email: [email protected]

    Resources:

    1. Curious about how laboratory results can vary from laboratory to laboratory? Check out this series of articles by Digamma Consulting.
    2. Learn about how HPLC machines work in this article.
    3. Curious about establishing your own in-house laboratory? Check out this interview with Kevin McKernan.

    Do you have any questions or comments?

    Feel free to post below!


    About the Author

    Hunter Wilson is a community builder with Growers Network. He graduated from the University of Arizona in 2011 with a Masters in Teaching and in 2007 with a Bachelors in Biology.