The Operations side of the Cannabis Industry
Plexus Media recently connected with Robert Keeler (Chief Operations Officer of Nutritional High) and Billy Morrison (VP of Extractions of Nutritional High), to chat about the high-level Operations side of the cannabis industry.
As these two discussed with our team, there are some unique aspects of the cannabis industry. However, there are also some common elements when compared to other industries.
Together, Keeler and Morrison are working with the rest of the Nutritional High team to continue to push the company’s products and edibles/extractions model across the United States (and Canada, with the recent partnership between Nutritional High and Abba Medix).
For Nutritional High, a major aspect of Operations in Cannabis is continuing to evolve the industry itself in terms of creativity, standards, and innovation. Read on to find out more!
What does your day to day look like on the operations side?
The day to day varies depending on the position in the industry.
For Billy Morrison, his day starts with staff meetings where the team discusses the previous day and then moves onto the operational goal for the day. In terms of extractions, that could mean setting a yield goal per day (without cutting corners). Often, Morrison says a significant part of his job is learning how to make the extraction and production process more efficient while maintaining or improving the overall product quality.
For Robert Keeler, his day is spent working with tenants, partners, and employees across multiple states and countries. As Chief Operations Officer in a cannabis business, Keeler says his days may move from HR issues to construction plans from one day to the next. But, Keeler does an exceptional job maintaining laser focus on his ultimate goal: to further grow the FLI Brand and corporate goals of Nutritional High.
How often are you looking for new opportunities? As we can see, Nutritional High is very actively involved in many different partnerships and strategies. How do you go about forming these partnerships and relationships in the industry?
With the industry just starting to grow and flourish, as the mainstream players are beginning to take an interest, most corporate cannabis teams realize that you have to strike while the iron is hot. Expansion efforts should be where the focus is if a company has a national or international vision. For Keeler, looking for new opportunities is a daily occurrence. Along those lines, Keeler states, “my job as COO is, in part, to evaluate and determine how those opportunities can be smoothly and efficiently merged into our operations to create a greater return for our investors”.
On the Extractions side, Morrison is also consistently looking for new opportunities.
In Morrison’s eyes, the number of businesses who are struggling with a lack of guidance in the cannabis industry is vast. Nutritional High is always looking for viable business models and strategic partnerships to continue to improve and expand in new ways. But, Morrison cautions that not all opportunities that glitter means that there’s gold to be found once you’ve dug a little deeper.
He states, “these opportunities can appear very attractive on the surface but can often be traps for a company like us… it takes all of us working together to identify great opportunities and this aspect is what will ensure our firm’s success long term”. With a seasoned team of like-minded business professionals, Nutritional High is working to identify only the best and most stable potential opportunities in the cannabis industry.
This expertise and drive for only the best is part of what the Nutritional High team believes sets it apart at its core when compared to other competitors in the industry.
How does the operations side of the cannabis business differ from more “traditional” companies? How is it the same?
According to many of those who work at a corporate level in any industry, business is business. Often, many of the same principles and rules of one industry can be translated into another industry. This is the exact perspective that Robert Keeler takes. Keeler states, “ I think the perception is that the cannabis business is quite different from other businesses but, from my perspective, the differences aren’t significant”. The challenges and goals that come with being in the cannabis industry are really similar to any other industry.
On the other hand, there are some glaring differences to regular corporate America.
As Billy Morrison discussed with us, the first is that the product is definitely non-traditional (as of right now, anyway). That can make things like banking, corporate strategy, infrastructure, investment, and so on much more difficult. There may be legal or political barriers that companies cannot work around. According to Morrison, there are days that the Nutritional High team feels that they must operate with some element of ambiguity to maintain a level of professionalism.
For an outsider, this can look like controlled chaos. However, Morrison also optimistically states that they are always focused on the goal, which is “to replicate the exact same process and products no matter the jurisdiction…to accomplish this, we rely on the operational systems and their standardization”. Again, this is no different that Operations in any other industry.
With such ambitious drive and vision on the corporate governance side, it’s going to be interesting to see where 2018 takes the Nutritional High team and product lines!