January 28, 2019 – With marijuana becoming legal in an increasing number of states, the expanding sector faces a strong need for talent. New York City-based ForceBrands, a specialized recruiting firm for the consumer products industry, has responded by launching a cannabis-focused division called HerbForce. The new offering will include executive search services, board director assembly and a digital job board.
HerbForce follows in the footsteps of the company’s other vertical-specific divisions: BevForce, FoodForce and BeautyForce. “With the cannabis sector estimated to reach $146.4 billion by 2025, we are thrilled to be at the forefront of such an exciting time of growth,” said Josh Wand, ForceBrands’ founder and CEO. “It’s an incredible opportunity for us as leaders in the ‘people business’ to connect world-class talent with thriving cannabis companies, as we’ve done in beverage, food and beauty for more than a decade.”
ForceBrands, which already works with companies including Vita Coco, Campari, Sierra Nevada, Justin’s and Vital Proteins, said it saw an imminent need in the cannabis industry for a focused, personalized and unique approach to connecting companies to top talent. As an industry-focused team, HerbForce will act as a hiring destination for cannabis jobs at all levels at the most innovative companies across the country and beyond.
A Team of Experts
HerbForce intends to work with brands across the cannabis industry, including companies developing pharmaceutical/medicinal products, marijuana products, consumption devices, dispensary networks, as well as cannabis cultivation and agtech businesses, said the firm. The HerbForce team is made up of industry and functional experts who specialize in sales, marketing, finance, operations and HR roles.
As an introductory offer, HerbForce is offering cannabis companies one complimentary job board posting, valid for 45 days, through its website (forcebrands.com/herbforce).
Recently, Hunt Scanlon Media spoke with the founders of newly launched H2 Talent in Boulder, CO about the challenges the pot industry faces in recruiting senior leaders. The search firm was launched specifically to provide C-suite and executive recruiting services to the cannabis sector. The founders – John Comeau of recruiting firm C-Level Search, and Jay Czarkowski and Michelle Whitmore, both of management consulting firm Canna Advisors – were in agreement that the marijuana industry is exceptionally short on senior-level leaders who can come in and cross-pollinate their functional and sector skill-sets.
“My interest in the cannabis industry was first piqued when I posted a COO position for a cannabis technology company on LinkedIn and received more than 4,000 interested inquiries over a five-month period,” said Mr. Comeau. “Smart cannabis businesses need access to the best talent available, whether they come from inside or outside the industry, and experienced business leaders are eager for cannabis opportunities.”
The cannabis industry is the fastest growing industry in the U.S., and the world, said Mr. Czarkowski . “From a medical standpoint, cannabis is successfully treating illnesses that mainstream pharma medications cannot help with,” he said. “And, now that research into cannabis is becoming easier, we will see more medical formulations and treatments become available. Pharmaceutical medication use typically drops in states with a robust medical cannabis program.”
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As the cannabis industry continues to grow and mature, leading companies in the sector need to hire many of the same key positions as leading companies in any other industry. “C-level executives, professionals with marketing expertise and business development expertise, experts in logistics, manufacturing, distribution, and bio sciences,” said Mr. Comeau. “The list goes on and on.”
Seeking a Start
So it is that the partners are seeing executives from other more traditional sectors looking for work in the cannabis industry. “This is the next great American/global industry,” said Mr. Czarkowski. “Those that know this want in.”
H2 Talent, in fact, has seen tremendous interest from executive-level talent looking for their start in cannabis. “When talking with these candidates looking to make the transition, it’s a lot of education regarding where the industry currently is and where we see it headed,” said Ms. Whitmore. “Some executives understand the nature of a start-up and the mentality required to be successful in that type of environment, and some need to wait for the industry to mature, creating more stable organizations and a broader base of larger companies that are more comparable to their current situation.”
Within a decade, said Mr. Comeau, the marijuana industry should be well on its way. “In 10 years, the industry will continue to expand globally,” he said. “Certainly in 10 years cannabis will be federally legal in the U.S. like it is in Canada and other countries. I also expect every state to have at least a medical cannabis program. And now that research in to cannabis as medicine is beginning, I expect there will be a number of valuable cannabis-based medications and treatments available. And there will be very large, powerful cannabis conglomerates out there. Fortune 500, for sure.”
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Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media