I had the pleasure of interviewing Beth Stavola, Chief Operating Officer and President of US Operations of MPX Bioceutical Corporation, and board member for the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association. In 2017 Cannabis Business Executive named Beth #3 on the “CBE 75 Most Important Women” in cannabis list.
Thank you so much for doing this with 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 worked on Wall Street for most of my career in institutional equity sales. I made an investment in a medical marijuana company, and originally it was just supposed to be an investment. Then I realized that the person I was investing with was — well, let’s just say, I needed to step in and take over. It’s an industry that was in the illicit market for so long that it can be a difficult transition for some. Once I started working full time in medical marijuana, I started rolling up licenses in Arizona. I started really getting excited about seeing what medical marijuana could do for the patient. It became more than an investment, more than a job, it was my true passion. I am now a huge activist as well as an operator.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
When I first started in the business, I couldn’t tell anyone what I was working on. I am the mother of 6 children and was raised in a very conservative “say no to drugs” family where marijuana was never discussed in a positive light. Because it wasn’t in the mainstream 7 years ago, I felt as though I had to be secretive about the type of business I was in and my passion for the healing properties of the cannabis plant.
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?
To be honest, I’ve made too many mistakes, but the biggest lesson I learned was to keep getting up after being knocked down. I always told myself that losing was not an option and it motivated me to keep working hard. I always try my best to not make the same mistake twice.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
We have many exciting projects going on right now and are looking to continue to grow and expand into other US states. There is also a tremendous amount of Mergers & Acquisitions going on in the cannabis space right now, and we are staying active in the market alongside our competitors. Additionally, keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming CBD For Life Gummies, the newest trend in the CBD cannabis market.
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?
My husband Jack has always been there to support me, albeit thinking I was crazy many times. I could not have done this without his support and excellent business guidance. He is my rock and I can always bounce ideas and concerns off of him. I remember one time in the brutal Arizona summer heat, we had a major air conditioning unit go down at one of our cultivation sites. I called Jack and the next thing I knew, he was on the roof fixing the unit with a few other guys. It turns out, all the younger guys got sent home early to re-hydrate and the only guy left standing was my 60-year-old husband asking, “What happened to everyone else!?” My husband taught me that as an owner, no job is ever beneath you.
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?
There are many ways to reach potential customers and we want our brands to have broad appeal in many sectors of the market, so we use a variety of tools to get our name out there. We do use social media quite a bit and like to partner with other companies to offer product specials and create some buzz. We like to mix it up and are always trying new things.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
The most exciting thing is that there are so many opportunities and we sometimes have a hard time deciding which one to work on first. The three things that excite me the most are: the health benefits that I witness every day, the opportunity to grow a company so quickly, and the incredible amount of jobs this industry is creating in all of North America. The three things that concern me the most are: safety given the banking challenges our industry faces (this puts employees in our industry at great risk), the challenges we face due to the Federal illegality, and keeping up with the hyper growth we are experiencing.
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.
You have to have no ego and have to be willing to do anything, roll up your sleeves and work hard. I would go into the trim room and trim with the trimmers, do a harvest, there is no job that’s beneath me and there should be no job beneath anyone else. I would never ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do.
- Try to be as smart as you can with all upfront costs. I’m seeing people in the industry throw a ton of money into the industry. Think about where you’re investing your capital
- Hire smart, trustworthy individuals — and don’t be intimidated to hire people smarter than yourself in particular areas
- Take every meeting because 1 out of 10 ideas may work out
- It was important to make all of my employee’s shareholders so they have a sense of ownership
Aside from your particular vertical, which other cannabis ancillary industries to you think have very strong potential in the next few years? Can you explain why?
I see the packaging side of the business expanding in the future especially due to the Child Resistant regulations taking effect and products such as cartridges getting better and sleeker. I think there will also be a trend toward more environmentally friendly solutions taking hold in the packaging space which would be a welcome change.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Empower your employees and don’t keep anyone in the dark. I offer shares to everyone in my company because I want them to have a sense of ownership and feel motivated to work for a company they truly care about.
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. 🙂
More female executive leaders. We are starting that in the Cannabis industry by being a community founded on women helping women.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
You can find me on Twitter at @BethStavola, and on Instagram at @MPX_Official, @MPX_AZ, @MPX_MD and @MPX_Infusions_NV. Our websites are: www.mpxbioceutical.com, www.healthforlifedispensaries.comand www.cbdforlife.us
Jilea Hemmings is the CEO & Co-Founder of Leaf Tyme. She is running a series on Leaders In The Cannabis Industry.