Brazilian Chemist Chooses North Carolina to Expand Woman-Owned Tobacco Industry Business
GREENVILLE, North Carolina — A Brazilian chemist and tobacco industry expert credits her international business success to the resources and talent available in Pitt County.
“Our anchor customers were in North Carolina. When we started IOTO USA, we looked at different cities, but Greenville was the best place for us because of the workforce and educational institutions,” said Bianca Iodice, owner of IOTO USA, LLC and IOTO International.
As one of very few women around the world to own a company in the tobacco industry, Iodice founded IOTO International in 1999 in Brazil. She then went on to establish IOTO USA, LLC which was founded in 2008 and headquartered in Greenville. The companies develop new products and technologies for tobacco flavoring, vegetable films, and reconstituted tobacco.
“During the manufacturing of tobacco products, tobacco by-products such as tobacco stems and dust are produced. These remnants of tobacco leaf processing, that would otherwise be discarded, can be recycled to produce reconstituted tobacco”, said Iodice. IOTO manufactures reconstituted tobacco using its own patented process.
In addition, IOTO creates non-tobacco wraps and tobacco-free Hookah smoking gel. The company is also breaking into the beauty industry. Iodice says they’re currently creating high-quality peel-off face masks which are dermatologically tested. She recently hired a perfumist to help develop a line of fragrances.
“Research and development methods are done in Brazil but the idea is to bring them here to Greenville since this is where we are,” said Iodice. “We are seeing a lot of growth here with our company.”
Her teams in Brazil and in the United States consist of highly skilled and educated engineers, chemists, agronomists, and scientists. Iodice says having East Carolina University and Pitt Community College nearby are key elements of their success.
“Greenville has the necessary infrastructure along with quality education which helps us find talented professionals,” said Iodice.
In addition to IOTO, Iodice is a co-owner of Purilum, which is also located in Greenville. Purilum was created because its founders, IOTO E-Liquids America and AOSP Investments, recognized a need within the e-liquid industry for a quality and experienced manufacturer.
“Together, we have the expertise needed to create a truly unique flavor experience while using only the highest quality ingredients,” said Iodice.
With segregated nicotine and non-nicotine manufacturing clean-room facilities, Purilum delivers a consistent product at the volume levels demanded by the e-liquid industry. In addition to rigorous finished product testing, quality verification, and full traceability, all materials used must undergo a toxicology evaluation process to assess suitability of inclusion in e-liquids.
“We always thought that the e-liquids industry needed regulations. And now that we have FDA regulating e-liquids, the manufacturing processes are being held to higher standards”, said Iodice. “We’ve always had our standards well above the market requirements but we’re glad to see potentially harmful products being taken off the market.”
As Purilum continues to meet the demand of the e-liquid industry, the company, which employs over 110 people, is in the process of choosing a bigger facility to better serve customers. At IOTO USA, LLC, there are eight full-time employees and the company is actively hiring.
“In the near future, I’ll also be looking to move IOTO to another location in Pitt County to give us more space to grow as we add to our team,” said Iodice.
When the companies expand, each will continue using state-of-the-art equipment. These resources, including chromatographers and mass spectrometers, show their commitment to quality and safety. As an employer in the Pitt County area, Iodice says the true value is in their employees.
“The plans are for the company to grow so that we can create more jobs and better benefits to our employees,” said Iodice. “The idea is to give more to our people and their families because they are our success.”
*This piece was originally published by the Greenville — Eastern North Carolina Alliance website as part of a series during National Business Women’s Week 2020.