Be nimble and move fast. The industry is changing very fast, and consumer are setting the trends at lightning speed. Know your path to success but be ready to adjust.
As part of my series on “5 Things You Need To Know In Order To Run a Successful Company” I had the pleasure to interview Derek Thomas. Derek is the Vice President of Business Development for SanSal Wellness Holdings, LLC and Veritas Farms. Mr. Thomas is a business development, branding, and communications strategist. From 2014 until joining the Company in December 2017, he worked as an independent consultant in the cannabis industry for Technical420, Blue Moon Advisors, Hemp Inc., Hemp Blue, and Stonebridge Partners. From 2012 to 2014, Mr. Thomas was the Director of International Business Development for Life In Color, a wholly owned subsidiary of LiveStyle Inc., the largest global producer of live events and digital entertainment content focused on world-class festivals. From 2010 to 2012, Mr. Thomas served as a General Manager with SBE Group, operator of the luxury SLS Hotels in Miami, Beverly Hills, South Beach, and Las Vegas. Mr. Thomas, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, graduated from Florida State University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share with us the story of what first introduced you into this business or helped you get interested in the business?
I had always been vaguely aware of cannabis’ benefits, but it was Sanjay Gupta’s special a few years ago that really opened my eyes to how profoundly beneficial full spectrum hemp oil could be. I was in a decade into very successful carrier in hospitality management, but immediately knew I wanted to be a part of the industry after seeing that special. Shortly thereafter I quit my job and dove in head first.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
The most interesting stories occur every day with our customers and people curious about what we do. Any conversation where someone is either exposed to something completely knew, or walks away with an entirely different understanding of something they once help true is fascinating — and we experience them every day here.
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?
Originally, we did a lot of private labeling for other brands, and it was a solid source of revenue. But we spent so much time qualifying companies to start private labeling for only to have them jump ship to a cheaper/lower quality competitor or go out of business that we re-evaluated that strategy and redefined our qualifying procedure.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Oh yes! We still do private label and custom formulations for other brands and companies, and we are just about to launch a custom formulation for the largest rheumatology doctor network in the nation with a patient network of almost 1 million patients.
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?
I’m grateful to everyone in our organization. Because we are fully vertically integrated, we have some incredibly talented people spanning a lot of different disciplines — including farming, extracting, formulating, manufacturing, sales, marketing, management, customer service, and IT. With so much talent in so many areas, we’re able to move fast, nimbly, and precisely.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about your industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
1) The potential to help millions feel better while avoiding NSAID’s and Opiates
2) The growth potential of an entire new industry and all that comes with it (jobs, new tech, etc.)
3) The change in stigma and growth of knowledge about the cannabis plant
4) Bad actors in the space making snake oil claims and making inferior products / lying about ingredients
5) Improper government regulation (regulation is needed but it needs to be the right kind)
Can you share your top “5 Things You Need to Know in Order to Run a Successful Cannabis Ancillary Company”? Please share a story or example for each.
1) Be nimble and move fast. The industry is changing very fast, and consumer are setting the trends at lightning speed. Know your path to success but be ready to adjust.
2) Find good people. It’s tough in this industry, but it’s not an option. Don’t fill a position just to fill it.
3) Recognize that the ‘marijuana subculture’ of the cannabis industry is the root of the industry but a small piece of its future.
Aside from your particular vertical, which other ancillary industries to you think have very strong potential in the next few years? Can you explain why?
I think that consumer packaged goods products have a ways to grow. Hemp paper, hemp plastics, hemp building materials…all are lagging behind medical marijuana and full spectrum hemp oil. Along with those products are all the ancillary companies that would need to exist to have thriving verticals — processing plants, farms, etc.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Lead by example and empower people to be their best.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
It would be the movement I’m a part of now.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Follow @veritasfarmsofficial and you can follow my personal page @derekclaytonthomas on Instagram
Roger Ralston is the CEO of DirectView Holdings (DIRV), a publicly traded company that specializes in providing security surveillance equipment to law enforcement, public facilities, schools, and cannabis dispensaries.