EVERGREEN, Colo. -- The allure of the mountains proved to be something Will Carr couldn't ignore.
The summer before his senior season playing basketball at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, the West Hancock product and former John Wood Community College center worked the Chauncey Billups Camps in Parker, Colo., which is a southeast suburb of Denver.
"I was doing a barter thing," the 6-foot-10 Carr said. "I was working his camps and his trainer was training me."
All the while, his love of the outdoors and adventure was being stoked.
"I was here for one summer and I was hooked," Carr said.
So he transferred to Colorado School of Mines to finish his career and returned to the mountain state once his professional playing career in South America ended.
That's also when his career path took a dramatic turn, as his entrepreneurial desires led him to becoming a manufacturer and marketer of a CBD product that still has him part of the game.
Carr is the founder of Genesee Nutrition, which infuses only broad-spectrum, water-soluble CBD into its premium nutrition products -- daily nutrition protein bars and liquid wellness shots. He also has launched Sunrise Supplements, which is an all plant-based protein powder using a watermelon seed, pumpkin seed, tea and hemp protein blend.
"I wish I knew more about health and how to take care of my body when I played because I believe I could have been that much better than when I snatched McDonald's every day," said Carr, who was a second-team all-area pick his senior year at West Hancock and averaged 9.7 points and 8.3 rebounds as a sophomore at JWCC.
"It's really important when formulating these products to make sure it's really clean, healthy ingredients. In supplements, there's a lot of bunk and really poor ingredients. Our products are really, really clean."
He's been completely invested in that from the start.
First, he had to find his way to such a product.
Upon returning from Lima, Peru, Carr lived in Denver as he finished his undergraduate degree. All that remained was a senior design class, and he convinced his instructors and the dean of the engineering school at Alabama-Huntsville to allow him to finish his project remotely.
At the same time, he'd started skydiving and was getting bruises on the inside of his thighs from the gear. It gave him the idea to create a product to keep that from happening.
"I made the whole project," Carr said. "I built a website. I filled out all the social media pages, I figured out all the manufacturing and got it up on Amazon."
And he earned his degree in engineering. That's when life changed course.
Instead of attacking the engineering world -- Carr at one time hoped to work for NASA as a rocket engineer -- he started "thinking about how I could build things on my own and build things from scratch."
There's was one caveat. Anything he made in the future needed to be more marketable than the skydiving product.
"That company was a complete fail. I sold one on Amazon and it got returned," Carr said. "But it was a good learning experience."
So was his first venture into the CBD realm.
Invited to play in a golf tournament while living in Colorado, Carr wasn't sure he'd be able to perform because he was battling turf toe. It turned out the scramble happened to be a CBD non-profit charity event, and one of the organizers encouraged him to try one of the free samples of CBD they were handing out.
"I didn't know anything about the hemp side of the cannabis plant," Carr said. "But I tried it. Thirty minutes later, my toe didn't hurt. That's the first time I realized, ‘Hey, as an athlete, I wish I would have had this long ago instead of pumping myself with ibuprofens and pain pills.' My first thought was to put it into a protein power."
So in the summer of 2017, he went to work producing a CBD-based protein powder. He created a company called WillPower Products and launched his first product line.
"It was a really sweet brand," Carr said. "We had an all grass-fed whey protein powder."
It was starting to sell when things hit a snafu.
"I ran into a trademark issue," Carr said. "Someone else had the name WillPower."
He shrugged it off.
"So there was another lesson," Carr said.
Undeterred, he rebranded his company to Genesee Nutrition, double-checking trademark rights first, and made more accessible products for athletes.
"Through my relationships and contacts that I had, I was able to link up with a good contract manufacturer to make protein bars," Carr said. "In the CBD space, I had wished there were more on-the-go type products. I wanted to make things with more convenience. I wanted to make CBD products for the 7-Elevens of the world."
That's what he's done. By the end of July, Genesee products will be in more than 500 stores throughout the mountain states and the Midwest, including Evergreen Wellness in Quincy.
"When I had that experience with CBD myself and saw it helping so many people, I knew I wanted to put it into products for athletes and stuff that I use," Carr said.
Carr also wants to educate his customers about CBD. He makes it abundantly clear CBD is not a miracle substance. It will not cure cancer or alter significant causes of intense pain. What it does is help the body in a very natural way.
"It needs to be looked at like a multi-vitamin," Carr said. "We need to take cannabinoids because we have an endocannabinoid system in our body that responds well to externally taking vital cannabinoids. It's ingredient to go into products.
"It makes a lot of sense for sports because of the anti-inflammation and how it can help athletes feel better and be at the top of their game."
Carr is at the top of his game as a businessman, an entrepreneur and most of all a father.
He's raising a 4-year-old daughter in a close-knit community and teaching her to appreciate hiking, camping, skiing and all the activities made possible by living in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
"I love it," Carr said. "We're the first town up in the mountains. We have our own community, our own little downtown, all of our own shops. It feels like that small-town feel I've always been used to, but I'm in the mountains and I'm only 45 minutes from Denver."
Those mountains are leading to success in the most natural of ways.