Jeremy Weisz 4:13
almost seems obvious to some people now but when you started it wasn’t so obvious how hard was it to get the licenses and what you have to go through to to start?
Mitch Kahn 4:23
Well, you know, every state and we’ve, what’s different about the way we’ve done is we did it mostly through organic growth. So we applied in one in competitive applications, two thirds of our of our licenses, the rest we bought, most of the other large companies have done it the other way they found, you know, very well heeled investors and bought a bunch of stuff later on. So, you know, I think it was was certainly a hired and very competitive, but I think it allowed us to grow in a much more logical, organic way without worrying about having to integrate every time we bought a bunch of different things, but it was, it was as you said, it was not quite commonplaces as it is today. You know, today, people everywhere you go people are talking about it, Illinois is you know, is going live with a recreational program January 1. So it’s it’s Top of Mind everywhere. In 2014, when we started even 16, when we started the first stores, it was still, you know, for many kind of a dirty little secret. It was just not something people wanted to talk about trouble. You know,
Jeremy Weisz 5:27
I’ve heard you speak and I encourage anyone who check out, you know, your talks that you’ve given online, but you say, you know, there’s so many challenges and we talked before, you said, there’s an alligator pool, you don’t know who’s going to come up and bite in drag, drag you. There’s always a challenge every day. But the hardest part about the growing the business. I know you’ve talked about is the people and the people, you know, it’s to have a good team that’s running it. And so I’m wondering from early on when you have three stores, what did the company look like? were the people helping run the show?
Mitch Kahn 6:02
Well, you know, one of the real challenges in this business is the people. And And truth be told, from my perspective, it’s the single most important thing in any business. For anybody, no matter how good your product is, no matter how much better you may be at the core part of your business and your competitors, it’s about people. If you have great people, you can solve any problem. If you don’t have great people, it’s obviously a challenge. So, you know, the challenge for us in 2014, and 1615, and 16, and even 17 was most of the real talented folks who now want to be in this business. Excuse me, I wouldn’t even have a cup of coffee with me, let alone. Why is that? Because they couldn’t take the chance of being involved in this in federally illegal businesses. So you know, we have later on, we’ve been able to add a CMO who came to us from Kimberly Clark, who’s done terrific things with our whole marketing organization, a number of other marketing folks who come from all kinds of very Very well known CPG companies. guy who runs capital markets for us came from a very storied hedge fund business. You know, our retail businesses now run by a former Abercrombie and Fitch executive who’s terrific and is brought in, like super talented former Nordstrom managers for like the real talent who know how to run each of the particular things they know how to do. When we started in 1415, and 16. You know, no exaggeration. The only people that would work for us were people who were lifelong flagwaving cannabis activists, who were super passionate. But it came with all of the challenges that you can imagine for people who were with most important focus every day was was cannabis.
Jeremy Weisz 7:45
Yeah, exactly. Um, you know, one thing the partner walked in your door and what opportunity Did you see what did the person say to you? Because he they had to convince you of the opportunity also.
Mitch Kahn 7:58
Well, you know, my partner You know, my partner, Matt Darren, who has been one of my two real estate partners for, you know, 15 plus years, walked in my office, he’s substantially younger than I am. So he was a bit more connected to that culture that I was, I’d say, well, you also went to Madison, so you’re pretty connected to the fairpoint. A long time ago, a long time ago. But But, you know, he came in my office and said, You know, I got a bunch of friends in California, they’re doing this they’re making a lot of money. And they just passed this law in Illinois, we should do this. And ultimately, what what we looked at was, this was an opportunity to really start an industry not just a business but started an entire industry from the ground floor. And that was certainly intriguing and, and you know, one story you may have seen me talk about, but, you know, I grew up in a house in in suburbs of Milwaukee where, where my dad looked at me when I was in high school and said, You don’t ever have to worry if I you know about the college. Finding marijuana if you have it because of I find it I’m calling them myself, myself. And I believe and I truly believed he would do it. So when we kind of started down this road in early 14, I sat down with him and said, we’re thinking about this, what do you think? Knowing least expecting what I would have expected him to say. And he looked at me and he said, you know, if you can find something helps my arthritis I’m in. And it was one of those moments. And it’s, you know, it’s kind of a cute story. But it’s one of those moments where I looked around and truly said, if he’s changing his view on this, the entire world’s going to change their mind. And it really is played out. It played out much faster than we really thought it would play out. But that is exactly how it played out. And, and truly one of my, one of my only real regrets in this business is that he’s not here to see. sorry to hear that. I didn’t know that.
Jeremy Weisz 9:53
Yeah, but it feels a real need for people.
Mitch Kahn 9:56
It does it. You know, the medical side of this this business, in my opinion and the the moral discussion around the medical side I think is is really a no brainer regardless of what you think about the adult use side of the business and people have different perspectives for sure. There is zero question that this helps people. And in it helps people with a lot of various different issues. So it is without question a medicine and it can definitely help people. Yeah, you know, we’ve gone from when we started looking at this in 2014, the acceptance rate kind of for the medical programs around the country was somewhere about 50% nationally, maybe less than that. today. It’s 85 90% of the public supports the medical programs. When you get to the adult use side, it’s obviously different. There are there are people who have very strong views. I think those percentages still are also somewhere, you know, 60 65% of the public now is supportive of or more supportive of, you know, adult use legalization but But that’s a that is, you know, admittedly, that’s a much tougher conversation for sure.
Jeremy Weisz 11:04
Yeah. Yeah. Which I don’t know if this is a unique perspective, but I know it’s it’s an interesting perspective, as far as you think of the business is four separate businesses, which is like farming, manufacturing, retail and brand, which is cool the way you think about it. And I want to just talk about the retail side, because you took a little bit different approach to the retail side, I think then then most people took, right,
Mitch Kahn 11:27
yeah, yeah, I think both of both the things you said are true. I, you know, we do really think of this as four very distinct businesses. You know, we have people who run each of those businesses, and
Jeremy Weisz 11:39
most people think about it like you, would you say in the industry, or No,
Mitch Kahn 11:42
I’d say people are, are beginning to get there. To some degree. The great majority of people in the industry are in only one or two of those lines of businesses, what we call the msos, which are what one of the monitors they put on us and some of the other big guys multi stage. operators were we are vertical, we are really in all four of those businesses. But but I think it’s I think it’s the way you have to think about the business, I think the real success is going to come both from running each of those businesses very, very well. But then figuring out how to take advantage of the fact you are vertically integrated, and making sure you don’t, you don’t lose sight of the fact that you got to connect those pieces.
Jeremy Weisz 12:21
Yeah, because in this situation, it allows you to control the whole supply chain is that
Mitch Kahn 12:26
it’s critically important and you’re going to see that here. You know, we see it in, in places like Pennsylvania and Illinois today where there are beginning to be very substantial product shortages, which we’re not immune to, and we’re suffering from them. But the folks like us who are vertically integrated, have much more control, both in terms of our own supply, but we also have supply that we can provide to others and therefore make sure we get supply from them at the same time. So, you know, I think you’re gonna see that you’re going to see Illinois unfortunately, and I’m not saying anything, people haven’t seen a lot of in the last month or two. You’re going to see Massive product shortages in Illinois for the first six to 12 months of a news program. And, you know, to be a standalone dispensary, for example, without without connection to a cultivation and production facility is going to be a very, very scary thing for last long tour and that,
Jeremy Weisz 13:18
does that mean prices will go up a lot? Or what does that mean for the customer?
Mitch Kahn 13:23
That’s a great question. I do think there’s certainly a risk that there will be price increases, you know, if it’s a pure supply gota there
Jeremy Weisz 13:31
is now by as much as humanly possible.
Mitch Kahn 13:35
There’s actually shortages today already really just just with the medical patients. You know, one of the really unique things about Illinois law is that it requires both the cultivators, producers and retailers to ensure that the supply to the existing medical patients does not be so nothing can be sold to the adult you excuse me, the adult use side of the business until the medical Patients have at least as much as we were providing to them before. So you know, it’s going to be a challenging few months for everybody in the business, no question about it. I do think you will see certain people raise prices. If it’s a pure supply and demand equation prices will go up. I think, you know, we’re still evaluating how we’re going to react to that. But But I think, you know, I think we’re very focused on making sure we have great product to supply our customers and we’re not as focused, quite frankly, on what those prices.
Jeremy Weisz 14:30
Yeah. What’s, what have you done? On the retail side that’s been unique and maybe talk about early on. And then now that you have some, what are some changes that were made based on you’ve had some true like people run larger retail chains come in, I’m curious of what they revamped or changed or left the same.
Mitch Kahn 14:52
So one of the things that we set out to do was to make our facilities a kind of a wellness facility. Not just You know, not just the Burger King of cannabis stores, if you will, you know, we never wanted this to be stand in line stand in a queue gets the front quarter your sandwich, you know, order your eighth and go home. Obviously, there’s a part of that has to be that way. But we really want to treat and very much focused on the medical side of treating the whole patient. So we’ve had wellness activities for our patients on a regular basis, we’ve had support groups for our patients on a regular basis. And, and we aim to continue that in the new, you know, in the New Adult Use world, it’s going to be more challenging, quite frankly, because the great majority of folks in and out of the door are not really going to be focused on those things. So it’s going to, it’s going to have to morph to make sure we address what our customers and patients want. That that said it’s been my proposition from day one, that the great majority of adult use, folks, I really treating the same things the same condition, the same issues that the medical patients are more like self medicating
Jeremy Weisz 16:03
Mitch Kahn 16:05
well, you know, they don’t have them, they may or may not have a condition that would have allowed them to get a card. But if you look at the core of what people use cannabis for, they use it for three or four or five very distinct things they use of help sleep, they used to help with pain, they use it to relax, like that’s, that’s pretty much what 90% of the people that use cannabis use it for whether it’s purely recreational, or whether it is medicinal, or somewhere in between. and I read it, you know, there was a book written by one of the very early on pioneers in this business that talked about that. And it really helped shape my perspective of kind of how we looked at this business and how we tried to add a wellness component to in fact, how we’re going to keep continuing to do that. Because I think it’s really important and I think that you know whether, you know, look if you have trouble sleeping, that isn’t enough to get your name medical card and hardly any state. If you have serious anxiety, that is not enough to get you a card in almost any state, but you can use cannabis the same way somebody can if they have a condition that does allow them to get a car. So it’s, you know, I think it is, you know, we’re excited about the adult use in Illinois. We’re excited to have it spread to other states. I think, Pennsylvania, we hope will be one of the newer states that comes on in the next year or two in Maryland, hopefully shortly thereafter, and we’re excited about it.
Jeremy Weisz 17:34
So Mitch, what did the some of the experts in retail come in and thought you were doing well and what did they add on?
Mitch Kahn 17:43
Well, you know, what, what what the retail folks, you know, retail guys come kind of in in a bunch of shapes and sizes, but pretty pretty much they are either merchants or their operators right there either focused on under Standing the product, merchandising the product, making sure of the right selections, or they’re focused on operations. And, and, and, you know, I think on the product side, we’re in pretty good shape. I think, you know, they’ve done one thing in particular for us, we’ve begun to, to really think about the business like normal retail guys do, like, you have an assortment, you don’t need 50 strains you need, you know, 15 and to kind of find the way to provide the right product to our customers and do it in a very efficient, effective and consistent way. When you have 50 strains that you buy from 10 different people, it’s hard to be consistent. I think the biggest thing that those folks have brought us is on the operational side and you know, we’re going for example, in Illinois, from seeing at our busiest dispensary, you know, 120 or 30 patients a day to, you know, which by the way you go back to the first week, we’re open in that store where we saw, you know, five people a day You know, that’s been a very nice, slow, steady but significant growth that has caused us challenges along the way for sure. But, you know, now we’re going to go from seeing 100, you know, 100 230 patients a day, to 500 600 800 patients a day. So, you know,
Jeremy Weisz 19:19
through like, operationally, you know, the
Mitch Kahn 19:21
soul of the people. Exactly. So, you know, not to sound like a manufacturing guy. But throughput is a big focus for us right now. without losing customer touch, right? Because, because at the end of the day, I’d rather serve you know, 500 customers, well, then 700 customers poorly. So you know, so we have to find a way to make sure that you know, we have so many different kinds of patients. One of the fascinating things on the retail side of the business to me, there’s almost no retail business I can think of that serves the breadth and depth of customer base. We do literally everybody from 21 To 90, no, no, you know, mail
Jeremy Weisz 20:06
is probably streamlining things because you’re such a range of customer.
Mitch Kahn 20:10
What does it it’s a challenge from marketing perspective, both from the legal side what we’re allowed to do, but even beyond that, you know, to target your customers and in the social media world that everybody’s and I know you’re very familiar with, you know, you got to target your customers, right? So it’s harder to do here because it literally is 21 to 90 Plus, it’s male, female across every economic spectrum, across every social spectrum across every I mean, everything you can think of when there is no, you know, the only the only people who don’t come in is that small group of, you know, conservative folks who don’t think this is a good thing, but literally Other than that, it can be anybody and everybody so, but that’s one of the great things about it is that answer keeps it fun and interesting for our people. But But if you Think about it. We have folks who want to preorder we have a great pre order system in our stores. So they can go online, they can pre order they can’t buy it online, but they can pre order. We have you know, fast lanes like the Fast Pass at Disney, we have fast lanes where they can come in, having pre order, literally be in and out of the store in less than five minutes. Yeah, and there, there are other people who want to kind of wander around, look around and then when they want to buy something or go up to the counter, buy it and get out quickly. There are other people who quite frankly want to spend an hour talking to somebody. And it’s important to us that we have we have been we have a a system that allows for all of those things you know,
Jeremy Weisz 21:40
you probably Graham never dreamed This is what you’d be doing. It just seems like just I get stressed thinking about all these components and we’re just talking about the retail side we’re not even talking about the farming manufacturing the brand side. What did the young Mitch want to do? What did you want to do?
Mitch Kahn 21:57
grew up you know, like really young, rich, I don’t know, probably be, you know, a fireman or something. But, you know, I think the young Matchplay wanted to be an NFL football player that you know, but that ended quickly when, you know, I realized I couldn’t really run that fast. I didn’t want to get hit that much anymore. What did your dad my dad was, was an accountant and was involved in various consulting and business activity through his whole life. You know, I think, you know, what did I want to do as I started my career, I was an accountant by education, a lawyer, my education practice law for a while and had been in the real estate business a long time. So I entrepreneurial streak in me, I think. But, you know, the funny thing is, if you went back and talk to people, I grew up with the people I went to high school with, and said, you know, who’s the person you know, who’s least likely to be in the cannabis business? I probably would have been on that list. It was just not part of my culture, my DNA. It’s not what I mean, just not in a million years and I think I would do this and I Quite frankly, but for having having a partner that I did and do, I probably wouldn’t have done that we probably wouldn’t have done this. So it’s a, you know, it’s part of the great, the great joy of life and a lot of ways is is, you know, you make decisions everybody does every single day. And it you know, it kind of leads you on a winding path. The key ultimate success I think, is being able to when you happen to find those opportunities by accident because most people frankly find them by accident, we got to know and you got to know how to how to take advantage of it and do your best to kind of create something Yeah, but this was this was not a long drawn plan. I can assure you of that.
Jeremy Weisz 23:45
How did you meet me I know you had a core a great core team going into starting this How did you meet your partners
Mitch Kahn 23:53
so both Yeah, met there and and Josh Joseph who was the three of us have been partners and frontline real estate Partners for a little 13 or 14 years now. And both Josh and Matt work for me. Josh was the first guy I hired when I was at Hilco real estate as the founder of a business called local real estate kind of in the distressed real estate world. Josh was the first guy I hired and Matt was a longtime family friend of Joshua, Joshua brother and so he came to work for us and then I I ultimately left front line in a wonderful time of the world. I left in in Oh, eight in the middle of the chaos master disaster and then about 14 months later, they they left and join me we started crawling together.
Jeremy Weisz 24:44
Huh? What are some of the challenges people outside the industry don’t see. Like I’m think like one thing that stresses me out about thinking what you do is like, just the security alone is probably daunting, like how heavy security has to be because people
Mitch Kahn 24:58
right now they can’t They have to pay cash. Right? Or is that is that is, in most states in all of our states? It is a cash business today. Yeah. But you know, I was the security issues are very, very, very tightly put together. We have great systems to deal with it. You know, it’s certainly a concern everyday worry would be way too strong of a statement in the scheme of the hundred things on our list to worry about. That’s not terribly high on the list because it, you know, it functions very nicely. You know, the biggest The biggest challenge of the business other than people and, you know, anytime you talk to anybody who has a business like we do, again, four separate business line, you know, think about this room, all right, four separate businesses across 11 states, all startups.
Jeremy Weisz 25:46
So sounds, you know, terrible. So we
Mitch Kahn 25:48
had no, we had no infrastructure I you know, one of the easy ways to think about it, my retail team we hired, we have just a terrific head of retail, came to us from Abercrombie and bung a bunch of other places. She joined us. Just about a year ago, we had no retail team. guys running the retail business for Matt and I, and you know, two young people who were cannabis people were great, who are still with us, who never had retail experience for in their lives. And we were running the retail business, like, what the heck did we know? And you know, I’ve been involved in retail business before, which helped a little, but, you know, she came in and built in literally in one year, built an entire team built a great number two regional managers, district managers, store managers, we’ve replaced a bunch of our store managers who you know, some have been able to kind of make the transition from kind of the old school you know, dispensary to a real professional business and, you know, so so that just the transitions have certainly been been a real challenge and but it’s, it has been, it’s been a heck of a ride. Right, that’s for sure.
Jeremy Weisz 27:00
Yeah. I mean, the what you do is very capital intensive. I think you said somewhere like, it’s $12 million minimum to outfit a building. Right. Yeah. So a part of your job was also to raise capital. Right talk about that process, because that’s a whole separate job in itself.
Mitch Kahn 27:20
It was and that was a significant part of my job. And we, you know, we collectively, you know, we think we certainly thought a lot like real estate guys. So when we started, we, we started in Illinois, we raise money for three stores in Illinois. Not a big deal. We had some initial initial real estate investors. We raised, I don’t know, four or $5 million. I say that like flippantly but yeah, it was actually you know, we had three or four guys who were very committed, loved it and I’ve been involved in the real estate business with us. They were kind of bummed we didn’t get more we didn’t get a cultivation facility. We then one, Maryland’s we raised some money in Maryland. We then bought a grow facility. Illinois so we raise money for that about 10 million bucks and we we won Pennsylvania we run six dispensaries initially and and grow facility now we have to raise real money and we raised a good chunk of it and then like stupid people that we were we started building our cultivation of bought us three definitely in our building started building our cultivation building and halfway through the building we kind of realized we ran out of money so we literally had to put construction on hold for a little while without anybody knowing because he didn’t want to alarm are, you know the whole industry our whole team but it was among the most stressful days I’ve had for sure. We ultimately were able to raise the rest of it get things going. Shockingly, our contractor wasn’t very excited when we felt we was gonna get paid for a while. But everybody kind of rolled with the punches as best we could. And you know we raised through most of our state by state expansions, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania. And then Ohio, North Dakota, we raised kind of state by state. We raised a total of about $75 million, I think in in smaller chunks. But it was it was a full time job. And it was, it was one of the things we were good at in the real estate business. We have a lot of relationships, but this this stretched into a great degree and it got much much easier as it went on because the first you know, Illinois was easy after that Maryland, Pennsylvania were a challenge for sure. Because there just weren’t that many people who thought it was okay. They all everybody was intrigued but people were not excited about it. I have a longtime friend in relationship who was involved in a different business with me that that’s a you know, a a theoretically reputation Lee challenging business that he’s involved in and he’s like, I can’t do this could affect my My my, you know, status and my you know, people think of me, and this is someone who is who is a, you know, a fan of the product, put it that way. So there’s all that comes with it. There certainly was I think there still is, but it’s it’s much, much, much reduced. You know, we then we took all of our state entities late last year, rolled them up into one corporate entity, as we looked at. We looked at the roadmap ahead of us and said, if we’re going to do if we’re going to become a real company, as opposed to just the collection of deals, if you will, within make one entity went to put it all together, we have to be able to go raise capital, collectively as one entity. And it set us up to be able to do a public offering or the deal we ultimately did purely. So we went out just about this time last year in the worst cannabis market, we could imagine in December and then ultimately got better in January, we raised about $90 million we closed in early March. Which really allowed us to kind of kind of finish the expansion we needed to finish gave us the capital to do we need to do. We then obviously did the deal with maturely fund then subsequent to that we are now executing a number of sale leaseback transactions. You know we’re a moment in time in the cannabis world because the public Cannabis Stocks have been so challenged in large measure because there just isn’t. Us institutions can own the stocks today which is really unfortunate. Not because of that there’s weakness in the cannabis public markets, even though the businesses actually are stronger than they’ve ever been. So the the fundraising capability is very tough right now. So we’re doing it through silly specs we we probably owned more more real estate, we’re real estate guys, we were comfortable owning real estate, we probably own more real estate than anybody in the space. So we’re able to we’re you know, we’re able to do very, very good self respect transactions, which will give us the money to kind of finish the expansion we’re doing you know, when I were taking the rest of our facility Illinois and quadrupling the capacity doing the same thing. Pennsylvania. So it’s a it’s an exciting time. Yeah, I love
Jeremy Weisz 32:04
you talking about this because it’s like that overnight success after 20 plus years, right? I mean, your real estate experience was so valuable for this whole process.
Unknown Speaker 32:15
You know, you know,
Jeremy Weisz 32:16
I mean, your connections were valuable from your book, you know, from the real estate side, we
Mitch Kahn 32:21
couldn’t have done the first couple states without our relationships, for sure. Yeah. So those relationships are what got us the capital and having a successful real estate track record. Having, you know, taking people’s money as investors and providing good returns to them allowed us to do this, right. Beyond that, though, just having business experience and relationships with other folks who could give us perspective when we needed it, I think allowed us to grow fast enough without doing too many without doing too many stupid things. Right, you know, and look you’re seeing right now some of the super fast growing cannabis businesses. They’re get caught having done some some really aggressive things, huh?
Jeremy Weisz 33:06
Yeah. I want to talk about the people for a second because I know that that is a huge value to you it’s it’s what grows the company what you find the most valuable thing and wondering what your your your eight or 800 staff right now what’s like the hiring and training process look like what how do you want to get a sense of how we can learn from you about leading
Mitch Kahn 33:30
leaders shell firing training process for our first stores was we hired them we threw the Warriors? Well, we actually thought we were trading them for four hours and we said Go do your thing. And it was, you know, it was a mess. But you know, we got through it and, and, you know, the funny part of it is Matt and I were basically the assistant managers in our first two stores, in part because we were too cheap to hire an assistant manager and we weren’t making any money obviously. And we were also too, too controlling probably, to not be there all the time. The real positive is a gave us a real perspective, every minute of every day what happens in most stores on a retail basis, we didn’t quite have the same experience on the growth side because you can’t it’s a little bit different, obviously. But it really helped us I think, understand the retail business and you know, for better or worse, unfortunately, I just can’t I don’t have the time to spend much time in the stores today we have other things we have to do. So you know, Trent training today, again, you know, it’s all about people journey. It is. As you bring in more and more quality people, you can do more and more things. So we now have a full blown retail training department. We have an HR group that helps with that, but our you know, our, you know, our retail operations team really is built just a terrific training module and doing some of it in person, some of it online. It’s it’s like everything else in the business. It is Is the head and shoulders most important asset in this business is not capital, it’s human capital. And no matter how much money you have, no matter how again no matter how good your product is, if you don’t have the right people it just doesn’t matter. Yeah, yeah. And you know, my advice to anybody who’s in Assam you know, as you’re starting a business and, you know, we had we had constraints that wouldn’t allow us to do this one, great people really wouldn’t come work for us for the most part. And to we couldn’t afford to pay them but but my advice people I, you know, I do spend some time and probably will, in the future, spend more time talking to people about their businesses. Find a way somehow some way to always hire you know, if you’re, you’re trying to choose between the kind of sheep bird person and you think they’re going to be okay, and you can’t really afford any more than that figure out a way to step up and higher, the more you know, the better person. It’s almost always worth almost always
Jeremy Weisz 35:59
yeah What is your what kind of advice you out as far as leadership goes, you know, growing 100 plus person company in in kind of getting the mission out there What, what, where do you spend your time as far as, you know, leading the, the company? And what do you do?
Mitch Kahn 36:17
it, you know, you know, I think leading is a is a multi faceted exercise, it really is, I think it is a full, I mean really is a full time job. Unfortunately, it can’t be quite a full time job. You know, part of the way I think great leaders lead is they lead by example, first of all, right, so it, you know, both Matt and myself, you know, we’re the first the first person I wouldn’t say in every morning, but we’re the first person, you know, working every morning and we’re the last person there at night most days. And that’s not to demean anything else is doing but, you know, I would never expect anybody to work any harder than we’re willing to work to meet Part of it, but I think, you know, I think a lot of it is, is, is really focusing on leadership and I, you know, for whatever it’s worth is spent a lot of time, you know, reading different books, understanding different tools, experience certainly helps. It’s you’re dealing with a lot of personalities, you’re dealing with a lot of a lot of super passionate people. But I think setting a mission and setting goals and setting company values, which we did very, very early on, we have a part we have a partner in the business, who runs our Maryland, Pennsylvania operation were very critical in in helping us kind of set those initial goals and values for the company. And that has sustained us to this day. And I think, I think one of the things we talked about all the time is if you know, when there were two of us, or there were even 10 or 15 of us. It’s easy to make sure people are making the right decision because quite frankly, Matt and I made every major decision when we started I mean when we needed a new design For t shirts, you know, he called his buddy the designer, and we designed them and we called someone else and I wouldn’t pick them up and brought them to the stores. Like, I mean, we made every decision in the business. When you get to a place with whether it’s 800 employees, you know, how do you expect employee number 801? Right, make the right decisions, right, you know, part of its training, part of it, for sure is oversight and making sure that a lot of it is instilling values and core values. So they understand how to make decisions and, you know, part of part of learning that is also you know, it’s a bit of the, you know, the old story of putting your hand on the stove, right, like, you know, you can yell at people all your life, which, you know, if you’ve talked to people earlier in my career, I’ve probably been accused of that now and then it doesn’t work. It just doesn’t. It’s not, it’s not helpful. It’s not successful. You gotta let people you got to give people guidance. You gotta let them make decisions. They’re gonna make mistakes, and you got to figure out a way to correct those mistakes, point them out work on them without causing people to, you know, to run away and feel bad about themselves. And that’s it’s super challenging. It is not easy.
Jeremy Weisz 39:13
What were some of the values or maybe one of the values we should think about that? You kind of it’s like almost like a decision making process they probably think of the values on and, you know, compare it to the decision they’re making, what were some of the values you came up with or that the other staff member came up with?
Mitch Kahn 39:31
Well, no, it was it was really an iterative process that we all worked on together. I wish I had, I think I don’t have it sitting in front of you for in my office. I actually have it sitting on the wall in my office. But it crosses every spectrum. It’s, it’s, you know, there were values about, you know, making sure we had the best product, there were values about you know, kind of you know, I know The best way I can put it is, is, you know, to me the most important value was was essentially, you know, do unto others as you’d be interested, you know, kind of the point being, don’t do anything that you would be embarrassed to have been on the front page of the newspaper. I think it’s, it’s one of the guiding principles you really want people to think about every phone call, they have every email they said, you know, we’ve all been involved in all of that, you know, the digital world will involve you know, the were involved in today. Jeremy, you send an email last forever. And I expect almost everybody has seen emails that people there they know people that work with people that send in you kind of was saved like that’s, you know, How on earth did somebody send that in there? You got to think long and hard about those things. And you got to think about how you treat your other ppl. treating people with respect Super important in our culture, even when you have people doing incredibly stupid things that people do dumb things every day, we all do. But it’s, it’s about how do you how do you treat people with with respect? How do you try to treat them as partners. So a lot of those kinds of things. And it’s been, it really was critically important to us as we began and it’s even at its more critical today, it’s evolving, we’re continuing to do more and more different things with them. But, and frankly, they’re also evolving now into a process of, of things we call okrs, which are, you know, a different way of kind of setting objectives and key results from those objectives. And, you know, it’s been a been a very effective tool for us. Yeah, thank you for sharing that.
Jeremy Weisz 41:48
Um, you mentioned books, what are some of the favorite books people should check out?
Mitch Kahn 41:56
You know, I’m not sure I want to necessarily point to any particular One’s I think, you know, guess what
Jeremy Weisz 42:02
I I’m my audible cue is zero right now. So I need your suggestions.
Mitch Kahn 42:10
You know, what I would tell you is I think there are a ton of great business and leadership books out there a ton and I’ve probably read 100 of them. You know, most of the guys who work with me are scared when I go away on Christmas break because I end up I was coming back charged up about some and I go buy a bunch and given everybody, you know, good to great this certainly on and if you’ve read that, yeah,
Jeremy Weisz 42:34
yeah, say Jim Kelly.
Mitch Kahn 42:36
Yeah, it’s a long term bestseller. There’s a book called Five Dysfunctions of a team which I actually think is a terrific Patrick lencioni Very good. The the the OKR book and I the title front, he had john doe or john Doerr, I forgot
Unknown Speaker 42:53
Unknown Speaker 42:54
Yeah. Already maybe. Yeah, I think he
Jeremy Weisz 42:56
I think he like advise Google, right. Or
Mitch Kahn 43:01
a bunch of different companies now, it actually was a was a lot, you know, life changing would be a strong statement. But it was a very, very influential book to me. I’d read it just about a year ago. And it it. To me, one of the biggest insights in that book is as you set objectives, they have to be measurable. And I think one of the things we all fall into everybody is, you know, you set goals and objectives Every company has as some version of this and you get bigger. Yeah. And unless they’re measurable, it’s hard to it’s hard to hold people accountable to them. You know, they try hard kind of did, okay. measurable goals, and by the way, achieving 60% 70%. It can be a great result. You don’t have to, like it’s not a failure if you don’t get to 100%. I think a lot of those kinds of things have been important to us. It’s been, you know, one of our biggest challenges The time to do that stuff because we’re racing on about an hour to do all the things we’re doing.
Jeremy Weisz 44:05
Right. measure what matters. Okay. There’s a simple, exactly. Nice growth. It’s by john Doerr do er, for anyone who wants to check it out.
Mitch Kahn 44:15
It’s a great book. It is a great book. And again, there’s a host of others, ya know, the two minute manager, whatever I you know, there’s there’s a, there’s a, you know, I think there’s certainly plenty of ones that aren’t so good. But if you, you know, honestly, if you go to Amazon and you just look around at leadership books, you almost can’t make a mistake. If you go to the highly rated book. Yeah, they all offer you something different. They all make it. To me, the single thing they do the moat that’s most important is they make us think, yeah, and the more you’re thinking about it, if you’re thinking about leadership, and you’re thinking about how to how to motivate people. That’s that’s half the battle. Yeah.
Jeremy Weisz 44:51
Thank you. Yeah, that’s helpful. That should so I always ask this inspired Insider, two questions. One What’s been a low moment a huge challenge that you had overcome? And the flip side? What’s been a really proud moment from all this stress and tough challenges that you have to fight through with the business? What’s been a low moment that you can share and how you kind of push through?
Mitch Kahn 45:19
Well, you know, I’ll give you a couple, I guess first one I mentioned earlier, I mean, when we got to the point in Pennsylvania, where we ran out of money, and couldn’t pay our contractor was a pretty low mobile contractor happens to be a friend of mine, which some people might think that made it easier and actually made it much more difficult. That was a challenge. That was a moment where we were looking at ourselves saying, Are we going to actually fail? So that was certainly a low moment. I think the other low moment for us in many regards, was, as you know, we started in the dispensary side only took us a while to kind of get our legs and kind of grow in a more logical way, which I think was better for us long term. But as we turned around, we weren’t grown up enough yet to do to go public. And as we saw, folks like madmen and GTI, and cresco, and some of our friends, Frank them, and most of our friends, go public, and getting lots of accolades and have values through the moon. In some ways, you could think that would be a great thing, but it actually was a low moment for for me and for our team, we kind of felt like we just didn’t get there fast enough. But I think, you know, in many regards, people will say, well, the highest moment has to be the day you signed the deal. The truth is not really, I mean, it was the value of our company was there. Whether we do through a public offering this transaction, other transactions, like we’d created that value. It’s really nice to have that. You know, Someone else agree that you created that value. And it’s like a validation? Yeah. You know, it is it is a validation. On the other hand listening is, you know, mostly a stock transaction. So we’re in it for the long term. And we think what we did is, is them is a, frankly, a better, better, much better solution for the company, and for the business long term to create that long term value, which is what I’m in it for what my partners are before. But I think, to me, in a lot of ways, the best moments have been, as we’ve been able to attract the best talent we’ve been able to attract to get to get somebody come work for us who was the, you know, who came from a very senior position at Kimberly Clark, who had who had the experience from Abercrombie and Fitch and Petco and a couple other places to, to kind of like to me that was a lot of ways the most validation attract the top talent. To me that’s, that’s a funny thing. Like, that’s way more value. validating, then going to raise money from investors, which I know for most people, it should be the opposite. And it certainly was a good thing. We take them, you know, we take our investors very, very seriously, obviously. And that was a huge lift and a great result to raise $90 million at that point in the cycle in this world. And, but, but it was, that has really been one of the high points for me. And, you know, I think we’re going to have, you know, plenty more to come even as we get this transaction done, and as the business kind of gets to the next phase. Yeah,
Jeremy Weisz 48:35
Mitch, I want to be the first one to thank you. Thank you for taking the time. Thanks for sharing your leadership knowledge, your business knowledge. I know you’re up late, You’re up early, and you have a busy day. So I really do appreciate it. Where should we point people towards online to check out I know Grassroots Cannabis.com where else should we point people to just check out your your business and maybe they’re interested in going I know one of the facilities, where should we point people to?
Mitch Kahn 49:03
Well, I think that’s the best place to start the website as you said, GrassrootsCannabis.com is that that will take you everywhere you need to be obviously we have a, a Instagram page and a, you know on a Twitter feed or handle wherever the heck it is. But I think the website is, you know, websites the best place to start. You know, if people are looking to talk to us about job opportunities, obviously you can do that through the website. It’ll tell you where all our dispensaries are give you a little insight into what’s going on in the company. You know?
Jeremy Weisz 49:37
Yeah, um, what are you looking to hire for now?
Mitch Kahn 49:42
There’s probably 30 openings on our website as a literally as a non stop job. For HR, folks, you know, our corporate team is pretty built out at the moment. We’re continuing to look to do different things, but we’re just we’ve been out of work. One year exercise of building best in class data and analytics, which is we think going to separate us from a lot of other guys in the business. We’re excited about that for us, and then for the combined company really is best in class known as anything close to it. So we’re now just begin to do that. So we’re going to ultimately go look for some data scientists come work for us. But we’re, yeah, we’re, you know, we’re hiring all kinds of different people. A lot of folks in the field obviously as we build up new facilities in places like North Dakota, Arkansas, Oklahoma, more in Pennsylvania. So it’s it’s a, you know, it’s a there’s a lot going on, check out grassrootscannabis.com. Thanks again, Mitch.
Really appreciate the time.