Santa Cruz Shredder has revolutionized the design and durability of consumer and professional grade cannabis grinders. Their secret? Questioning the basics of what makes a grinder.
From blunts on a sunny balcony to bong rips in a dimly lit basement, every cannabis enthusiast has a different setup for their smoke session. But one item you’re likely to find in any cannabis consumer’s stash (besides cannabis) is a grinder.
Breaking up your bud has always been a cornerstone of the cannabis experience. In the early days, that meant manual labor — picking through seeds and stems on top of album covers and cafeteria trays to separate out the good stuff. With the advent of sinsemilla, other techniques arose, like chopping flowers with scissors inside of a shot glass or rubbing them against mesh screens. But ultimately, it was the round array of interlocking “teeth” we now know as a grinder that emerged as the winning design.
Many early grinders were wooden with metal pegs, and as with all things, people tried to improve the efficiency and durability by using other materials. The only problem is, once the grinder design evolved to the diamond-shaped teeth and plastic or aluminum construction that is now the prevailing industry standard, nobody thought to rethink those basic elements.
That is, until Matt Hansen, CEO of Santa Cruz Shredder, got tired of dealing with the deficiencies of that design.
Hansen got into the cannabis industry in 1994 as the owner of several smoke shops. He says at the time there were only a handful of American grinder companies, and they weren’t providing the quality he wanted.
“They were just all the same, just a few American brands — identical diamond-shaped teeth, un-anodized aluminum — a grinder that isn’t anodized scratches very easily,” he says. “So even getting it out of the show case looked bad.”
But the real problem with the diamond-tooth design, he says, has less to do with aesthetics and more to do with safety.
Aluminum scratches very easily if it isn’t anodized, and the friction points created by the interlocking teeth on a diamond grinder generate burrs — tiny fragments of metal — which can end up in your cannabis and reduce the efficiency of your grinder.
“At trade shows, we’d take a magnifying glass and show the diamond tooth design versus our design after a lot of use, and you could almost see with the naked eye the burrs coming off the other grinders,” Hansen says. “What we did is we did an inverted square which, if you look at the profile of it, it’s much thicker. And we put a serrated blade on it, so it’s clog proof. It’s very strong, it’s got multiple cutting surfaces and it eliminated the problem of burrs.”
Even more importantly? Hansen says it provides a more even grind than other products, which either pulverize the material or unevenly break it up.
Santa Cruz Shredder’s manufacturing facility is in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the highly automated factory has been specifically engineered for the creation of grinders. This allows for American manufacturing at reduced costs, which allows the company to offer its famous lifetime warranty.
Ultimately though, the success of the brand is pinned to innovation. That spirit of innovation continues to motivate the company as it branches out into other areas, namely the dab scene, which it’s successfully targeting with its Omni-Nail line of 710-centered products.
Hansen says it all started with rethinking what everyone else took for granted.
“You had a product that nobody had ever thought to improve; we constantly improve the grinder we have. Our tooth design is patented, and I don’t think that can be improved upon, but we created the bevel dish underneath where the kief goes, our screens are super tight, our magnets are superior,” he says. “You can hold the grinder upside down and it won’t fall down. All the Chinese stuff, you have toy magnets and recycled aluminum, it’s just a really inferior product.”
And that same philosophy will continue to guide the company, which can almost certainly expect to see market gains in its home state of California as recreational legalization rolls out in 2018.
“Our process is we don’t reverse-engineer anyone else’s product,” Hansen says. “We create our own and make it better.”
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