Industry

“This Business is More Difficult Than You Can Imagine” with Brandon Wiegand and Len Giancola

This business is more difficult than you can imagine. This business is compliance, retail, agriculture, biochemistry, manufacturing, delivery, supply chain, lobbying, and a multitude of other infinitely complex businesses all rolled into one.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Brandon Wiegand. Brandon brings years of cannabis industry experience to his position as director of operations for The+Source, one of the state’s first and most popular dispensaries. Wiegand joined The+Source in June of 2017 and in addition to working closely with every department in the organization, oversees policy development and standard operating procedures. He is also responsible for monitoring the ever-evolving regulatory guidelines set forth by the State of Nevada to ensure The+Source remains a leader in compliance. A strategic leader with a proven track record of continually improving operations and efficiency, Wiegand believes in mentorship and practices hands-on leadership. He has managed numerous successful company transitions for The+Source, including the transition of sales from medical to retail at the Las Vegas and Henderson dispensaries and the transition to Metrc, a turnkey solution specifically designed for government agencies regulating legalized marijuana. Prior to joining The+Source, Wiegand oversaw operations of the production team at The Grove Investment Group (TGIG, LLC), a vertically integrated cannabis enterprise with Nevada licenses in dispensary, cultivation and production. While employed by The Grove, Wiegand managed the development and production of concentration products for various cannabis brands. He learned the complexities of responsible product development and distribution, especially in the areas of inventory management, supply chain, vendor relations, packaging, branding, order processing and compliance. A native Las Vegan, Wiegand supports the local community through various initiatives. He has contributed to the revitalization of Las Vegas’ historic downtown district, helping to organize, fund and execute the “Build a Greener Block” event. In collaboration with fellow community organizers, he also served on the Downtown Achieves Steering Council to focus on improving the quality of education for local students. Wiegand received his BSBA in Real Estate Finance from the University of Las Vegas — Nevada, where he earned esteem as a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma-International Honor Society. During his time at the university, he was President of the UNLV Real Estate and Business Society (REBS) and a Certified Commercial Investment Member and Bernie Isaacson/ Commercial Marketing Group/Lied Institute CREC Scholarship Recipient.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have been a long-time cannabis user and always believed in legalization. Years ago, I worked in commercial real estate and development. Our company connected with a cannabis partner who was looking for the capital and development skills that we possessed, so our groups teamed up. Once operations commenced, we realized we needed additional leadership talent in order to execute our plans. Soon, I stepped into an operations role and loved it. I joke that this business is a bit like building the airplane in the air and I seem to thrive in that kind of environment.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

As someone who is in and out of our cultivation facilities quite frequently, my backpack (which acts like my briefcase), has developed a permanent fragrant smell that would lead a casual observer to believe that I am always carrying around a fresh pound of flower. I have become so used to the smell now that I don’t even notice it anymore. A couple of years ago, I flew to Canada for a snowboarding trip and happened to take said bag with me. When I removed my bag from the carry-on compartment, I was smacked in the face by a pungent smell. Sure enough, I was selected for a “random” screening and the Canadian Border Services Agency officers quickly zeroed in on my backpack. The officers asked a lot of questions while going through my possessions very thoroughly and were ultimately perplexed by the fact that there was nothing to find. I avoid travelling internationally with that backpack now, but still get a laugh from the experience.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Nothing funny comes to mind — lots of painful mistakes and tons of lessons learned!

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

We are working on several new and exciting projects that include expansions of our current stores, cultivation facilities, and production facilities. Last December, we were awarded seven additional licenses by the State of Nevada and are looking forward to opening those additional locations and serving new areas of the state. We will be launching additional brands and products this year, including the launch of Nevada’s first solventless rosin cartridge which we’re very excited about!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

We stand on the shoulders of giants — there are so many people that have helped me along the way that it is difficult to name just one. This industry has cultivated a spirit of collaboration and cooperation that is refreshing to see. We leaned heavily on the pioneers in Colorado as we were getting started in Nevada and in turn, we have always tried to be a resource to others as additional states legalize medical and recreational use.

This industry is young dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?

I think the most clever and innovative strategy we have deployed is our focus on being good community partners. Our employees have volunteered over 1,000-man hours with charitable organizations and we have raised over $500,000 in charitable donations. Along with volunteering and donating to reputable causes, we regularly host community events and education seminars to further connect with the citizens of Nevada. Last year, we gathered over 156,000 pounds of food for Three Square, Nevada’s largest food bank, which resulted in their largest canned food drive to date. We have found that being great partners to the communities we serve is the most effective marketing strategy and it helps change the negative stereotypes that exist around our industry.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?

I am most excited about:

1. National Legalization — It seems like the winds of change are blowing in our direction and we may very well see cannabis legalized nationally in the next presidential cycle.

2. Research — There has been so little research conducted over the years but that is starting to change outside of the US. We need more research to understand exactly how and why cannabis works within the human body the way it does. National legalization (or at least rescheduling) and research go hand in hand.

3. Destigmatization — The negative connotations with cannabis are rapidly fading away as people see their friends, family, and neighbors benefitting from cannabis use. The irrational fears previously associated with cannabis use, such as “reefer madness,” are being replaced with tolerance and understanding.

I am most concerned about:

1. DUI/DWI Testing — No one should be driving impaired. Current DUI/DWI testing for cannabis is not effective at determining impairment.

2. 280E — It is a massive tax burden that the entire industry should be paying attention to if they are not already.

3. Banking — We are one of the fortunate cannabis companies to have a bank that works with us, but we need banking solutions that exist for the entire industry.

Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business”? Please share a story or example for each.

1. This business is more difficult than you can imagine.

This business is compliance, retail, agriculture, biochemistry, manufacturing, delivery, supply chain, lobbying, and a multitude of other infinitely complex businesses all rolled into one.

2. Your backpack, purse, briefcase, will always smell like it is crammed full of fresh product

3. I avoid travelling internationally with items that smell like cannabis in order to prevent having my belongings searched. This is a compliance business first, everything else comes second.

Understanding and adhering to regulations is more than half the battle — if you are under constant scrutiny because you can’t follow the rules, you’ll never even get to the point where you can develop and implement your best ideas. Compliance is my number one job.

4. The one thing I relied on for stress relief and relaxation would become the source and cause of all my stress — it’s a complicated relationship.

5. You will be forever touched by patients and customers.

You will cry tears of joy when you hear from patients who have beat cancer or who have finally been able to sleep a full night after struggling with PTSD. You will sob uncontrollably when one of your regulars stops showing up and their family informs you they’ve lost their fight with cancer.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Set a clear vision, articulate that vision to the team, then get out of the way. Your team will thrive when they know where they are headed, and they will figure out the best way to get there. My number one job as a leader is to chart the course and work to remove the obstacles that prevent my team from executing the vision.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I think the world would be a better place if everyone adopted mediation as a practice. The only thing we can control is our thoughts and developing that ability has had a force multiplier effect in so many other areas of my life. I am a better person as a result of it.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

You can follow us on the following handles:

Instagram: @TheSourceDispensary

Facebook: The+Source Nevada

Twitter: @8FoldNevada

Instagram: @GreenGrowthBrands

Twitter: @GreenGrowthBrands

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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