Gary Lowe has over 30 years under his belt as a self-employed entrepreneur, with expertise in sales, management, product development, business administration, and finance. His professional journey has landed him in the cannabis space over the past ten years.
In 2010, Gary and his wife Vickie successfully established and built a company called Cannariginals, which has grown into the #1 topical across the state of California sold in over 700 collectives and MMJ storefronts throughout the state. Cannariginals is now recognized as the dominant brand in the California infused product niche and has received multiple awards for product effectiveness and originality.
We spoke to Gary about what made his company successful early on, and what his team is doing to keep it growing.
Let’s start with a little history. How did this venture get started and when?
I’d say it started with a deep-rooted passion to help people with all-natural elements we knew to be valuable. Then we formulated a truly great product and were able to befriend a decent amount of support from big players in the industry. At the time we started, five years ago, the industry was fairly rudimentary, with mostly homegrown shops, low-level marketing and packaging, and we all just had a lot to learn. Now, we have our original products in about 700 stores in California.
Our readers love a good success story and you certainly have one. What would you say are the top 3 things you did early on that contributed to your success?
First, we dedicated our time, sweat, and tears to develop a formula that truly helped people suffering from a variety of issues. That initial commitment to getting it right was essential to our success.
Second, we nurtured relationships within the industry to find like-minded people who also were passionate about the issue – and who loved our products. We were very, very fortunate to have grassroots support from the get-go.
Third, we fed the rising need within collectives by always having product to stock their shelves. Seems simple, but that’s an issue in our industry, especially five years ago. We ultimately partnered with the collectives and dispensaries to get our products into consumers’ hands, all of who began evangelizing the product with us. It was stunning how rapidly champions rose up to tell everyone they knew about how our products were working for themselves or close family and friends. It was a fire that fed us every day.
You raved about your sales team when we spoke earlier. I’ve found a lot of people want to do sales in the cannabis industry. How do you weed through them to find the rock stars?
Well, I’m pretty proud to say that outside of a couple sales reps who moved out of the area, we’ve never had one of our reps turn over us. We have the original group we started with five years ago and they’re still representing our brand in their respective markets. I attribute this to a couple things. Most importantly, everybody came to us as a result of their own experience with our products. So they had personal passion for what we were doing and still do today.
We actually have more people coming to us than we can handle, so we try to choose the very best that come our way and have a compelling story. They are great at interacting professionally and personally with our business customers and generate fantastic results, for themselves and the company.
Your brand obviously has a great reputation and word-of-mouth. Is there some marketing strategy you follow in terms of advertising, social media, and branding in general that you think works well for this kind of product? Where do you put your marketing money?
That’s a great question because, in this industry, marketing can be tricky with the ever-changing regulations and general lack of education. That’s why we’ve really focused our marketing resources on building strong relationships with the budtenders and staff at the shops we serve. The sale at the counter is vital to our success, so it’s crucial for these teams to understand our product and its benefits.
We put a great deal of time and resources into training dispensary teams so they can share why and how our products work with their customers seeking solutions. We also like to nurture those relationships with “appreciation days” and other strategies so they are inclined to share our product with a potential customer, rather than a competitor’s.
Any other final advice for anyone thinking of starting a medical marijuana company?
Operate your business from a place of genuinely wanting to help people. We exist to improve people’s lives and we never take our eye off that ball. It fuels us every day – and the sales follow.