On October 10th, Heidi Braun, CFO of market-leading e-liquid manufacturer Johnson Creek, recently declared bankruptcy for the company. Founded, the company spearheaded the e-juice market and rose to the top thanks to online business. This story is yet another symptom of the difficulties faced by e-cig industry players with the new FDA regulations.
Based in Hartland, Wisconsin, USA, the Johnson Creek Vapor Company was one of the world’s most renowned providers of quality e-liquid. Founded by Christian Berkey, the company’s success took off after establishing a partnership with Blu. They were among the first, in 2010, to offer e-liquids containing no propylene glycol, relying instead on a 100% vegetal glycerin base.
After the partnership ended, Johnson Creek found themselves in financial difficulty, leading to the cession of 50% of company shares to Republic Tobacco in 2014. CEO Christian Berkey however displayed renewed optimism in 2015, announcing a hiring campaign of 120 employees for 2016. In May 2017, the company reached out to the Hartland municipality citing difficulties complying with FDA regulations.
Vape professionals in danger?
The collapse of a reputable brand such as Johnson Creek was a shock to many industry watchers. Furthermore, like a domino effect, this bankruptcy fell in the footsteps of another independent company, ProVape, which closed last February. The e-cigarette industry must today comply to new US government regulations which impose complex and expensive requirements.
There is, however, a glimmer of hope for Johnson Creek. A recent judicial decision could lead to the company open its doors again after a total restructuring. In an email sent out to customers, CFO Heidi Braun confirmed that she was working to lift the company “out of bankruptcy”.
In any case, the fall of a titan such as Johnson Creek acts as a painful reminder that the vape industry is on thin ice on the american market.