By Karen Ackerman Witter
A partnership between BRANDT, a Springfield-based global agricultural company, and hellowater, a consumer beverage company, may initially seem surprising. However, it is in keeping with BRANDT’s entrepreneurial spirit and based on patented BRANDT technology. Together, these companies will launch a new beverage product in March that supports immune defense and elimination of toxins from the body.
BRANDT iHammer is a subsidiary created as a joint venture in 2014. It is dedicated to agronomic research and product development with the intent to develop new technologies that help plants use water and nutrients more efficiently and, in turn, help customers achieve agronomic results. Research conducted by iHammer led to a technology patent with implications for the human body. Because manufacturing products for human consumption is not in BRANDT’s wheelhouse, the company sought a business partner to bring the technology to market. By working with Serra Ventures, an early-stage venture capital company in Champaign, Hello Beverages emerged as the ideal partner.
Rusty Jones of Springfield and Tom Bushkie of Chicago formed Hello Beverages in 2016 with the intent to inspire better health by creating healthy beverages. Avoiding sugar, drinking more water and consuming more fiber are consistently at the heart of healthy eating. In 2017, the duo launched hellowater, a fiber-infused beverage designed with those goals in mind. (“Goodbye sugar, hello water,” Oct. 2019).
Hellowater is a member of Innovate Springfield, and executive director Katie Davison says Jones takes advantage of any conversation, engagement opportunity or workshop that comes his way. “Hellowater’s great team, combined experience and diverse strengths in leadership made them a desirable partner,” said Davison.
This is not simply one more beverage product with additives to help boost health, but a fundamentally different product that incorporates CYTO PLUSTM technology, which creates a shield for the body’s defense system while accelerating the elimination of toxins from the body.
Dr. Arthur Nonomura, chief science officer for BRANDT iHammer, developed the technology. Nonomura has worked alongside many prominent biochemists and was a research fellow at University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, one of the world’s top medical research universities. He founded iHammer after working many years as a scientist at Dow Chemical.
Nonomura and his wife started a 2,000-acre farm, which he says became his “superstructure for discovery,” focused on understanding metabolism. His understanding of plant metabolism was the key to the connection with BRANDT, and that research led to the development of CYTO PLUSTM.
Cytochrome P450 enzymes are the most abundant enzymes in the human body. They are essential for the detoxification of foreign chemicals, metabolism of many medications and critical to the body’s internal defense system. There are thousands of clinical studies related to Cytochrome 450, as the foundation for development of new drugs. CYTO PLUSTM is not a new chemical, but rather a patented technology. It is a combination of natural products that fortifies the enzyme process.
“It builds on the architecture of the enzyme complex to make the body’s chemical defense system recognize and process out xenobiotics (toxins),” says Nonomura. Essentially, it acts as a shield to fortify the internal defense system.
“My father, who started this business, was the quintessential entrepreneur,” says Rick Brandt, president and CEO of BRANDT. “And, he never hesitated to pursue a good opportunity when he saw it. I think we have a great opportunity with Tom and Rusty at hellowater to create a whole new beverage category from a technology that we’ve been perfecting for years.”
Karl Barnhart, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for BRANDT, describes this partnership as a connection of like-minded people and companies.
Nonomura, who is based in Phoenix, says BRANDT has always been committed to the highest quality in chemistry and the manufacturing of high-quality chemicals. He says hellowater has “rock-solid core values, just like BRANDT.”
Initially, the product will be available directly to consumers through hellowater, and other marketing strategies are being finalized. Thanks to BRANDT’s long-standing relationship with NASCAR, there will be a marketing blitz through NASCAR in partnership with JR Motorsports. A hellowater NASCAR Xfinity car will debut on the track later this year.
Barnhart says this partnership is a win-win. BRANDT gets to see a new technology come to life. Hellowater will bring a new product to market. JR Motorsports gets a new partner. Nonomura and Jones are optimistic this will be a blockbuster with far-reaching implications that enable people to be healthier.
Karen Ackerman Witter enjoys writing about interesting people, organizations and ideas. She has a background in the biological sciences and was intrigued to learn more about the science behind this partnership.