Grove Bags, a cannabis packaging company with proprietary TerpLoc technology, launched in late 2016 with a goal of offering custom packaging that extends shelf life for fresh products. Founder & CEO Jack Grover said the goal to extend shelf life with no chemical additives is what led the Cleveland-based company to create its first packaging film that offers the perfect climate for cannabis. The company serves cultivators, dispensaries and distributors. With locations in Cleveland and Denver, Grove Bags has 17 employees, this late stage start-up expects to double in size by the end of the year.
Can you share what it’s like to be in the cannabis packaging industry?
It’s very competitive. When we started a few years ago there were about 30 or 40 companies in the industry. Now there’s about 300 or 400, according to some sources. But it’s a tough industry to be in. It’s intense. But only a handful of those companies are profitable month-to-month. The cannabis industry is the only real growth sector in the consumer packaging good industry. At MJBizCon it was the biggest sector there.
Where are your customers located? We are almost in all 50 states and we’re in 16 countries. We’re in every continent other than Antartica. We offer gram size bags up to 500 pounds. We also do quite a bit of pre-roll cones and other types of packaging. When it comes to the business of cannabis, every single gram matters and if your product isn’t stored properly your margins shrink dramatically.
In such a competitive industry, what drives you? I enjoy what we do. It’s a cool job and I love our team. We like what we do. I’m personally inspired by the entrepreneurs we work with. I’ve gotten to know them and I’ve learned a lot from them about packaging and material science. It’s inspiring and energizing.
Why is your company growing? We are very customer-centric. Beyond that there’s a huge industry problem in terms of quality checks, processes and accuracy of orders in this industry. The reason we do ok is that we actually deliver orders on time and deliver packaging that customers ordered.
Can you share a challenge in the industry? Right now the coronavirus is affecting the entire industry. Everything is connected globally. It’s a boost for U.S. packaging customers, but it’s posing challenges as a whole for the industry, because it’s shutting down some supplies.
What excites you about the canabis industry? It’s exciting to keep removing the stigma around cannabis and plant-based medicine. I still believe that we are looking at a global revolution in hemp, cannabis and plant-based medicine.
What upsets you about this fast-growing industry? Rouge operators out there pose a large risk to this industry as a whole. That includes both informal and formal market companies that manipulate tax payments, adulterate products and have unethical business practices that negatively impact the patient community and the legitimacy of the industry as a whole. This, combined with punitive taxation under section 280E among other regulations, creates a very difficult environment for operators. Core regulations and ethics, and grandious and unrealistic visions for the future have all contributed to a difficult operating environment.
Do you ever visit customers yourself? Due to the coronavirus I dropped all international travel. I was supposed to have logged in 36,000 miles n 10 days in March, visiting customers in different countries, including Barcelona, Spain, Johannesburg, South Africa, Tel Aviv, Amsterdam and London.
Why do you travel so much? In a nascent industry, it’s important to connect faces with products. Every new company needs evangelicals, people who are evangelists about the space, products and the industry. It’s what gets people excited. It sparks interest and passion. I enjoy talking to owners, activists and customers.
What types of customers do you most enjoy spending time with? I enjoy the agricultural side of the industry. It’s art meets industry….The best cultivators and growers have the mind of an engineer and the soul of an artist. They focus on qualitative analytics with an intuition that growers have developed over decades. It’s really impressive what some of them are doing with research, without the help of grants and fancy equipment.