This Q&A is part of a daily series highlighting the many medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries across Greater Lansing. Check back for a new post every day this week. And stay tuned for our 420 print edition, which publishes on April 14.
How long has your company been in business?
Pleasantrees Cannabis Co. (the DBA for Emerald Growth Partners) was founded in 2018. The company launched its dual-licensed East Lansing retail establishment for both medical and adult use sales in September. For Randall Buchman, the company’s CEO and founder — who is also a Michigan State University alumnus — opening the first retail outlet in East Lansing was a dream come true, “symbolizing a decade of participation in the Michigan cannabis arena.”
At the store’s grand opening, Buchman expressed his gratitude for “the many people who have helped [him] along the way, and most specifically the tireless efforts of Pleasantrees’ many team members.” While attending MSU, Buchman served as the president of Sigma Nu’s Epsilon Rho chapter, and the company looks forward to sponsoring student-focused social events as pandemic restrictions hopefully subside. Check us out any time at www.enjoypleasantrees.com.
Briefly walk us through the story of how (and why) your company got started.
Our CEO and Founder began as a medical marijuana patient and caregiver in 2010, initially using cannabis as a way to treat chronic pain that he endured since breaking most of his ribs in a jet ski accident as a teen. By 2013, he had started his own commercial-scale grow facility, which ultimately became the company’s 50,000 square foot state-of-the-art cultivator located in Harrison Township.
Where did you get the idea for this company?
Maintaining the spirit of its founder, Pleasantrees is composed of cannabis people that got into business — not business people who got into cannabis. In fact, it is unique that Buchman has been able to build the company, including raising necessary capital, while still maintaining the largest ownership stake among investors to date.
What was the mission you set out to accomplish?
Pleasantrees aims to be the premier cultivator and seller of high-quality cannabis in the state of Michigan. In true Midwest fashion, our team works hard, stays humble, and strives every day to deliver extraordinary quality and an incredible customer experience.
Who is on the leadership team and what sorts of backgrounds do they bring to the table?
In addition to Buchman, the company’s executive team consists of its Chief Legal Officer Benjamin Sobczak and Chief Development Officer Bryan Wickersham. Sobczak served as Pleasantrees’ outside general counsel through Dickinson Wright PLLC prior to coming aboard and is considered one of the foremost legal experts on Michigan marijuana laws and related regulations. Before joining Pleasantrees, Wickersham worked at Beaumont Health where he was the director of ambulatory expansion, bringing expertise in real estate transactions, construction management and M&A activity. Furthermore, the Corporate Team consists of the following individuals who possess functional acumen in their respective areas: Director of HR Michelle Wisner; Chief Security Officer Eric Mack; Senior Creative Director Brad Mamo; Senior Corporate Controller Pam Schill; Senior Director of Finance Michael Yassay; Director of LEgal Operations and Social Equity Jerome Crawford; Chief Information Officer Joel Armitage; and Director of Wholesale John Vogl.
Briefly walk me through the scope of your company.
Beyond operating as one of Michigan’s largest wholesalers of medical and recreational cannabis via its world-class cultivation facility, the company is vertically integrated including a nearby processing and packaging facility and two retail establishments in Hamtramck and East Lansing. While Pleasantrees will always call Michigan home, in Q2 2021, the company will launch two retail outlets in western Massachusetts and is also in the process of building a 110,000 square-foot cultivation and processing facility in that jurisdiction. Through this expansion, Pleasantrees will be the first Michigan-founded multi-state-operator (or “MSO”) in the country. Our products are retailed at roughly 200 provisioning centers and retail establishments.
How many employees do you have, both locally and across the entirety of the company?
Presently, we employ approximately 150 salary, full-time, and part-time individuals across all of our functions including corporate, retail, cultivation, and processing. We were immensely fortunate to stay busy throughout 2020. In that regard, we’ve hired roughly 130 people since the onset of the pandemic this past March, never needing to furlough or lay off employees due to lack of work or productivity. We are very grateful that we’ve been able to provide those employees with a sense of financial stability during these tumultuous times.
Once Massachusetts’ retail stores come online, we will exceed 200 employees in total. After the Massachusetts cultivator goes operational, that figure will be closer to 300 employees.
How has business been lately?
From the corporate standpoint, we experienced a 200% revenue growth from Q1 to Q2 and Q2 to Q3 2020. In the midst of a pandemic, this is quite the accomplishment that we only hope to build upon in a more normalized market. In that regard, Pleasantrees anticipates a record-setting spring and summer, and is already having difficulty meeting customer demand for its various pre-packaged brands. Through our cultivation operation growing continuous cycles of 4,900 medical and adult-use plants resulting in roughly 1,000 lbs. a month of flower,
Pleasantrees may be the largest wholesaler to third party brands in the state of Michigan.
What sets your provisioning center(s) apart from others on the local market?
Pleasantrees is, at its core, a company started by cannabis people who have been deeply involved in the industry and culture for most of their lives. We believe that connection to, and respect for, the plant is recognizable in everything we do, including growing top-shelf flower and manufacturing high-end water hash rosin without the use of any additives or chemical solvents.
Similarly, our stores feel authentic and our branding strikes a meaningful balance between traditional cannabis culture and the modern societal refinement of the now legal industry.
Understanding the variety of delivery methods available and to differentiate ourselves, our product assortment includes the following categories: packaged flower; vapor pens and cartridges (distillate, rosin & resin); concentrates; edibles; tinctures; topicals; capsules/tabs; CBD products; and apparel. Our retail establishments feature diversified product offerings that showcase our flagship brand, Pleasantrees, and our newly introduced value brand, Gud Nuff.
We also carry key brands such as Select, Mary’s Medicinals, Element, Redbud Roots, Kiva Chocolates, Petra Mints, Terra Bites, Wana Gummies, Dream Edibles, RISE Tabs, Prima CBD, Foria CBD, The Good Patch CBD and Papa & Barkley CBD.
What does this company hope to accomplish?
We believe in “working hard so our community can enjoy more of life’s pleasures.” Cannabis is an incredible plant with the power to help make anyone’s day a little brighter. For some of our friends, cannabis is an important medicine. For others, it’s a pleasant daily ritual that elevates their mood, sparks creativity, and helps wash away stress. Whatever your reason for using cannabis, we’re committed to helping you find the right product every time.
Perhaps more importantly, Pleasantrees is devoted to being a contributing member of the communities it serves. Recognizing the disparate impact that criminalization of cannabis has had on certain communities, the company endeavors to change that perception through continual and constant outreach and targeted initiatives. Pleasantrees’ work in the social equity arena starts at its core with an intentionality to foster greater diversity and inclusion at all levels of the company and throughout our society. While much progress has been made, there is still so much more to be done – and that is why Pleasantrees remains steadfast in its commitment toward furthering these goals.
Where do you see this company 10 years from now?
We are taking our talents to the wonderful State of Massachusetts. Pleasantrees recently acquired a suite of three retail licenses located in Amherst, home to the University of Massachusetts; Greenfield, strategically located off the I-91 interstate; and East Hampton directly across from a future 22,000 square-foot. grocery store development.
Two of these three locations will be live in Q2 2021. Pleasantrees will anchor those retail sites with a 110,000 square-foot cultivation facility in Holyoke, Massachusetts — a project estimated to cost upwards of $25 million.
Looking forward, the ideal picture for the company is to become completely vertically integrated. That means that Pleasantrees will be able to strategically grow its retail footprint in such a way to seamlessly pair with its corresponding cultivation and processing operations. With continued expansion, the team aims to launch additional retail establishments in viable and geographically prudent markets over the next several years.
Furthermore, Pleasantrees is continually evaluating other state markets for strategic entry. Becoming the first Michigan-founded company to be deemed MSO is not an accolade the team takes lightly; we remain excited by the prospect of consistent growth and development.
Any exciting new products on the shelves lately?
Notably, as the focal points of its vapor pen and cartridge offerings, Pleasantrees is happy to offer its “Liquid Trichs” and “Liquid Diamonds” products at its retail establishments. The former is a revolutionary product that transitions Pleasantrees’ top-shelf, solventless hash rosin into a vaporizable form without any harsh chemical processes. Our Liquid Diamonds cartridges are created through a proprietary process resulting in a potent, delicious, 100% live resin product.
Pleasantrees’ premium packaged flower is our flagship offering and serves as the foundation of our brand and retail identity. We offer upwards of 50 strains at any given time and those offerings are packaged in a variety of quantities to ensure we accommodate all consumers.