WB: Please tell me about yourself? Where are you from? How did you get to the place where you are now in cannabis? Why THC?
George Sadler=GS: I’m from Detroit and have been lucky enough to expand my business, Platinum Vape, into the Michigan cannabis market. Platinum Vape was founded in California by myself and my son, Cody, nearly a decade ago when he came to me with the idea of starting a cannabis company. Cody was still in college at the time and he had the foresight to know cannabis was going to be the next frontier of industry. We’ve gone through all the growing pains of any start-up, but
cannabis is unique in that we don’t have the same federal recognition of other industries so we still have to get creative when it comes to banking and other federally regulated issues.
Despite its challenges, we will always be a THC-first company. We offer CBD products but our mission to help de-stigmatize cannabis and provide a sense of relief for those who need it for various health reasons. I think we’ve been able to become a self-funded, $70M operation because we put whatever we make back into the business. We don’t take huge salaries or drive expensive cars. We’ve managed to get where we are today because we focus on creating a great business first rather than try to make a quick buck.
WB: Please tell me about your company? Do you have a mentor in business? Business acumen? What is your six month and twelve month goals?
GS: My father was my mentor. He passed away two years ago and although he may not be here in a physical sense, I still look up to him and use many of the lessons he taught me about business and how to succeed.
The benefit of being able to work with my son has given me a new way of seeing things- Platinum gets the benefit of 2 perspectives. I make decisions with my son. Taking it a step further, Cody and I make decisions with our employees. We want their input and opinions. It’s so important to listen to those who work for you. Again, this isn’t about making a quick buck. We want to create an inclusive working environment where, whether you’re entry level or a seasoned executive, people feel comfortable giving us their feedback and insight to better the company.
Our 6 month plan is to open in the Arizona market this summer. Within the next 12 months we want to expand our product offerings and our overall footprint into 5 states. We are currently in California, Michigan and Oklahoma. Not only do we want to be in these states, but we want to be one of the top selling brand in each state.
WB: What obstacles do you face when working in cannabis? Stigmas? What markets do you want to enter next? Obstacles?
GS: Business in general is difficult in cannabis because there’s so much pushback. Banking is one of the biggest obstacles. We pay our taxes like any other business, comply with payroll laws for our 100+ employees and we still can’t run like a “normal” business. It’s definitely frustrating when bank accounts get shut down with little to no notice and they won’t always give us a reason as to why. We still manage to work through all of these issues but they’re unnecessary.
The long held notion that people who consume cannabis are stoners/lazy/slackers is slowly dissipating but being replaced with another stereotype- that everyone in cannabis has a lot of money. I wish that were true! Cannabis is not a “get rich quick scheme.” If you think it is, you’re wrong. It’s like any other business, and because of regulations set up in states like California, there’s a large barrier to entry. You need money to make money in cannabis so this whole idea everyone in cannabis has money is a stereotype.
WB: Do you have a food memory from childhood that you’d like to share? A meal you’d like to describe from any time? Favorite recipe?
GS: When I was a kid I loved to eat candy. In a way, it comes full circle that I co-own a cannabis company that offers gummy coins and chocolate bars. While our products are not for children, the idea that something I’ve always enjoyed has worked its way into my adult career. As an adult, I’ve personally developed more of a “salt tooth” and absolutely love sushi!
WB: What is your passion?
GS: When I was younger I was all about making as much money as I could. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve shifted my perspective to focus on others. My happiness isn’t centered on how much I have, but what I can give to others. I don’t think enough people focus on what truly makes them happy. They think it’s money, but it’s not. I know it sounds corny but helping people makes me so happy. Seeing my employees buying homes, meeting professional and personal goals they never thought they could meet gives me such pride, not just as an employer, but as a person.