Weather is often not your friend, so plan accordingly. Between getting entire crops hailed out and losing tens of millions of dollars in a single storm, or having weather destroy structures, weather issues can be a serious challenge.
Aspart of my series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business” I had the pleasure of interviewing Andy Rodosevich. A native of Colorado Springs, Hemp Depot CEO and co-founder Andy Rodosevich had two passions as a boy: cars and creating ways to make money. Today, with his high school friend Luke Pickering, he runs one of the nation’s largest hemp CBD brands specializing in seed genetics, planting, harvesting, wholesaling and retailing cannabis for CBD with an emphasis on safety and purity. Hemp Depot was one of the first 13 producers to be certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority, an organization formed to self-regulate the industry with standards to ensure the quality and safety of CBD products. Looking out over the hundreds of acres of Hemp Depot’s cannabis farm, it’s hard to imagine Andy experiences an allergic reaction to marijuana-producing cannabis, which looks similar but is genetically different from CBD producing hemp. It’s this sensitivity that makes him place such a strong emphasis on frequent testing and quality control.
A sought-after expert on cannabis and CBD, Rodosevich has been referenced by national media from CNBC, Forbes, to the AP, and speaks at industry conferences on the current state and forecasts for the CBD industry. Hemp Connoisseur named him to the Top 100 People You Should Know, and under his leadership, the Denver Business Journal named Hemp Depot the fastest-growing Denver-area business with 9,621% growth. He is a member of the Hemp Industries Association and the National Hemp Association.
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?
The economic crash in 2008 left me wondering what my next step would be, and ultimately led me and my high school best friend to open one of the first medical dispensaries in Colorado in 2009. After that, we moved to cannabis consulting for a number of years which funded a .com business that I eventually took public. Foreseeing the coming shift in hemp legislature and the next economic boom coming from CBD led us to shift from medical cannabis to 100% focused on industrial hemp in 2015.
Last month the Denver Business Journal just calculated our prior three year’s growth at 9,621% making Hemp Depot the fastest growing business by more than 9,000% in our area.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Sometimes I think that failures are some of the most interesting ways to learn. In our first year growing hemp, we hired a company that incorrectly installed our greenhouse, so one month before we were supposed to plant our field during a mild storm the entire quarter \-million dollar structure failed, killing all of the plants.
We had to quickly change and adapt which led us to find a shipping container, equip it with lighting in restart growing our plants so we could still have a chance at some sort of season. That really taught us a hard lesson that this industry was not going to be easy and we need to be prepared to be quick on our feet for whatever might come our way.
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?
When we got our 1st kg of CBD oil from the lab, I took it home and put it in the freezer, not realizing that the oil would expand and it virtually blew up all over the freezer in my house. Looking back it was pretty funny, at the time it was the entire inventory for our business so not as funny at the time.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Hemp Depot has a dozen new products coming out as we speak with a number of completely new ways for people to consume and utilize CBD.
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?
Without question, the person I am most grateful for is my business partner, Luke Pickering. We have had amazing times, hard times, and over 10 years of business and 20 years of friendship we have had nothing but support and admiration for each other. I honestly can’t think of a single time that we’ve broken each other down or not been there for each other. When we first got started, we were literally building one of our first structures ourselves. The first part was laying over 1,000,000 pounds of concrete block with a crane — it was just the two of us and one employee working 16-hour days. We needed each other’s support; I know both of us came close to a breaking point that first year.
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 believe a strong PR strategy, social media strategy and SEO strategy are the basis for any good marketing.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the CBD industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
There are a lot of things to be excited about from our perspective in the CBD industry. The three most exciting are watching the phenomenal growth of the market as a whole, reading about the latest research and advancements coming to the industry, and seeing new cannabinoids and the new products become popular. My concerns are related to the overproduction of biomass, over expansion of extraction facilities, and false claims with consumer products.
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.
When it comes to the things I wish I learned before leading a CBD business, there are quite a few. The top 5 things I wish someone had been able to tell me are:
1. I wish I has an understanding of the pure capital requirements that come with building a business in this industry. We drastically underestimated the tens of millions of dollars necessary to achieve full scale successfully.
2. The second thing is the time to achieve full scale. Building out facilities took 10 times longer than we ever expected.
3. The third is staffing, trying to scale our employees and find high-quality managerial level team members is one of the hardest things we do today.
4. Branding, and the strategy and capital requirements of actually creating a brand should never be underestimated. Assuming that you can just take a percentage of a market share is for sure the wrong way to create a business plan. You need to think bottom-up, not top-down.
5. Weather is often not your friend, so plan accordingly. Between getting entire crops hailed out and losing tens of millions of dollars in a single storm, or having weather destroy structures, weather issues can be a serious challenge.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
A thriving CBD business needs a leader who will do whatever it takes and personally step in no matter what the team needs.
There was one time that in order to satisfy a huge order of clones to California, the only way to get them there was for me to get in a box truck and drive them across the country. So that is exactly what I did, a four-day drive by myself. I will never forget what that single act did when my employees saw that I would do anything to make sure we succeeded. To build your team’s confidence and have them want to follow where you are leading, you have to be in it with them.
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. 🙂
A business movement I’d like to see is to evolve to look at business as a way of creating partnerships and friendships rather than looking at taking advantage of deals. Often business relationships become extremely one-sided and not long term. If more leaders thought along the lines of a partnership development model, it would change the way we do business as a country. So many times I see people focused on a single deal, rather than approaching things from partnership perspective that could last for decades.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Of course, follow our business @HempDepotColorado or follow me personally @Hemp.King
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Article: Andy Rodosevich of Hemp Depot: “Here Are 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a CBD Business”, Authority Magazine