Beneleaves sets the bar in cannabis processing in Ohio

Beneleaves makes gummies, chews, cookies, cannabinoid-rich vape pens, lotions, capsules and tinctures.

Partners at Beneleaves like to say that they went from Collards to Cannabis. Co-founders Peg and Jeff Hollenback, former chefs in Columbus, started the processing company in 2017.  Soon afterwards they partnered with Bill Williams Jr., CEO, adding his national sales and brand marketing experience necessary to tout the pharmaceutical-quality medical marijuana products. The Hollenbecks have significant and diverse experience in business, commercial food processing and manufacturing. They all worked at Glory Foods, a company known nationwide for its canned pre-seasoned southern vegetables. Williams father, Bill Williams, is the founder of Glory Foods, which was also started in Columbus.

Can you briefly share how extraction facilities likes yours process plants in various ways to extract oils and products to put into different consumables and lotions?

BeneLeaves is a cannabis processing facility located in Columbus, OH.  We buy only certified tested plant material from those Ohio growers that we have personally visited, inspected and align with our core values.   We then use CO2 equipment to extract the oils from the flower to make our products.  There are 11 steps that go into the manufacturing process that turns cannabis flowers into extracted oils.  We make Gummies, Vape Cartridges, Lotions, Capsules, Tinctures and even Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies.  You can find our products in nearly all Ohio dispensaries.

Can you share a proud moment since reinventing in this industry as a processor?

Being one of 40 processors to be awarded a license was a proud moment in January 2019.

Getting our facility built in 90 days and getting our final certificate of occupancy was a proud day in August 2019.

Getting through our first year, having 25 items available in 41 of the 52 currently open stores in Ohio was another proud moment.

As a startup what has been the biggest challenge so far?

Banking and advertising remain two big challenges for our industry.

We are unable to use normal business tools to market and advertise our products and our industry.  It is beyond frustrating that there are literally millions of people in Ohio who have sleep or pain issues and we are unable to scream out, we can help you!

Because Cannabis is still federally illegal,  local and National banks will not offer bank accounts or loans to companies in this space.  We are unable to use normal business tools to help build out our industry.

If we could use the same banking and marketing tools that we used to build Glory Foods, we could help more people around Ohio immediately.

How do you market them? And how does your product add value to the larger cannabis space?

We have events at the dispensaries called popups.  I have personally worked several popups to get a chance to interact with patients. Many patients around Ohio constantly tell us they are looking for discreet dosing options.

 BeneLeaves offer several discreet dosing options.  We currently offer THC, capsules in both Indica and Sativa, for day or night relief.  We have several cookie options including brown butter honey pistachio cookies for a delicious treat. We have Watermelon Yuzu Sativa gummies and even Provence Lavender Lotion for patients looking for site specific relief.

We truly have a fantastic variety at all the dispensaries.

Why did you decide to leave the food industry for the fast-growing cannabis industry?

We see an opportunity to bring our sales and marketing experience to this new industry. We are very proud of what we helped build at Glory Foods.  The Glory brand will be available in supermarket stores nationally for the next 100 years.  We have the opportunity to provide safe, and tested products to Ohio patients, and we take this responsibility very seriously.

The patients of Ohio deserve quality relief products, that are safe and work every time.   We got in this industry to help!  We purchase medical cards for all of our staff that are interested in getting their card. It is the best feeling working with a dedicated team who are passionate about producing great cannabis products.  We like to say we know the patients because we are patients.

What keeps you awake at night?

This is an amazing plant; I wish we could share all the stories from patients about how this plant has helped many live better lives.

I stay awake at night trying to think of ways we can share our stories.  There are so many people in Ohio who cannot get good sleep or are suffering with chronic pain and relief.  We could help so many more people know the healing power of Cannabis.

With such a new industry, what’s your take-away so far in dealing with other cannabis-related businesses?

We are a small community, of growers, processors and dispensaries.  We have visited and toured with every grower around Ohio.  I have strong relationships at all dispensaries from the security guards to the budtenders and store managers.  We have allowed competitive processors to come by and tour our facility and share best practices.  The rising tide lifts all ships. It is fantastic that we all can work together to share key learnings and produce amazing products all focused on building this Ohio Program.

How do you relax?

Golf and travel are two favorites for me.  But even when I am in other states, I try to make time to visit dispensaries. I enjoy speaking with budtenders to learn what items we are missing in Ohio.

 

Jeff Hollenback
Jeff Hollenback is the COO of Beneleaves. He spent decades in the food industry before getting into the cannabis processing industry.
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