Nutritional High produces a variety of cannabis products with an emphasis on edibles, concentrates, and oils. In this edition of C-Suite, we speak with CEO Jim Frazier, who brings to the cannabis space nearly three decades of experience in the food industry.
For starters, what makes your company different from others in the cannabis space?
During my discussions around the time that I was entering the cannabis space, I could tell from very early on that the Nutritional High team had some unique capacities. The team’s strategic conversation that was taking place at the outset of the company was a definite game-changer for me. Once I made that leap into the cannabis space, our focus was immediately on creativity, innovation, and doing things differently than what was happening around the industry at the time. Using that attitude as our driving force today, we’re doing a great amount of research and development work on our FLI edibles and cannabis oils line. Components like taste, texture, quality, consumer experience, and innovation have been top of mind for us.
How did you get into the cannabis space?
Early on, I had a phone call with one of the Founders of Nutritional High, Adam Szweras. It was incredibly enlightening, to say the least. We discussed the opportunity that was available in the industry at the time and he mentioned the need for a team member that had a successful track record in building businesses. Specifically, he wanted someone that understood the grassroots of manufacturing, business finance, installing equipment, constructing facilities, hiring a capable team, and being able to execute an overall strategic vision. With 26 years in the food industry, I had gained the exact skills that he was looking for. After our chat, I had become very intrigued. Multiple conversations later, and I was sold on making the leap into the cannabis industry.
Walk us through a normal day.
A normal day? I’m not sure there’s a perfect description of a normal day in an industry that’s so rapidly changing and growing. But, to explain it best, I think a typical day goes hand in hand with understanding how many hats I wear throughout the day on behalf of Nutritional High. Currently, I’m very in tune with the day-to-day operations at a number of our properties. Whether it’s purchasing equipment or materials for our Colorado facility, engaging contractors in Oregon or looking at other strategic business opportunities in various states… I’m involved with it all. As a part of a company that’s looking to position itself “big picture” strategically in the industry, I’m very strategic about the ways that I’m spending my time.
What has been your biggest lesson about working in cannabis, and in business in general?
Being in business for 26 years, the biggest lesson I’ve probably learned so far in the cannabis industry is that it’s still in its infancy. Coming from an established food-manufacturing industry to a brand new field means that there are things that haven’t been developed yet. We’re talking a lack of solid infrastructures, rapid technological changes, banking challenges, and less resources than most other industries today. Just staffing alone is incredibly challenging to find the right people for the right roles. There’s a lot of work to be done yet in terms of establishing a solid base for the entire industry to work and build upwards from.
This is a great transition because while there’s a lot of work to be done there is a great amount of opportunity for those that are out there doing the work. The reward is high for companies that can deal with those challenges that we just talked about, do the work right, and establish themselves as building blocks of the foundation of the industry. In less broad terms, Nutritional High has seen a great opportunity in terms of the recreational edibles products currently in Colorado. Right now, there is a serious gap in the market versus other states who are also legally recreational. Our team is aggressively purchasing equipment, researching and developing quality snack-type products, and preparing to establish ourselves as superior in the cannabis edibles market. What separates us right now, is our visionary thinking - and it’s going to become very apparent with our FLI edibles line.
Do you have any thoughts or concerns about Sean Spicer’s statements indicating the Administration’s intention to crack down on recreational cannabis?
You know, there’s a lot of rumblings going on about his comments. Internally, we’ve discussed these comments, and our team also published a press release as well. I personally believe that regulation is actually going to be good for the industry. There needs to be some kind of industry standards that affects the quality and processes happening right now. A number of us are already pushing for this in the industry, but there aren’t a lot of technical legal rules happening right now. So, I could see his comments as potentially being positive. If we’re all held to the same standards and guidelines, it will strengthen the overall industry.
What sets you apart to make you a potential leader in cannabis?
Again, I think this goes back to the comments that I made earlier about the cannabis industry being in its infancy. As acceptance around the industry grows, the doors are opening for a lot of different people with various skill sets to come into the industry. You’re going to start seeing a lot of very professional people moving into this space. I’ve been very blessed to have successes in my business career thus far and am very excited to bring those lessons, values, and fundamentals into this industry. Nutritional High understands that we’re setting the precedent now for the industry in terms of professionalism. We’re defining how the industry is going to operate today and in the future.
What is the most frustrating aspect of the cannabis industry today?
Particularly, we’re finding the banking side is a massive challenge for all of us. The issue isn’t really isolated to any one company or state. Right now, just finding a bank that understands and will deal with a cannabis company is extremely challenging. Despite the business being completely legal and legitimate. I believe that the banking challenges we’re all facing are definitely stagnating growth in the industry.
The next major challenge we’re all facing is finding the right people in the right places for the right roles. As you know, it’s not the conventional industry, so finding someone with 30 years of manufacturing or production experience can be tough. We’re looking for high-caliber talent in an industry that, again, is still in its infancy. There’s a very narrow line of people that are currently able to come into the cannabis manufacturing facilities and push them forward in the right way.
What would you say to those who are considering investing in your company?
So, the absolute first thing that I would do as an investor is to visit our website (www.nutritionalhigh.com) and look at the senior management team that we’ve gathered. You’ll immediately notice we’ve got people spanning across industries, in different states, and in different countries, all brought together under one corporation to build Nutritional High. With our team, you’re getting people with a high level of knowledge on both the technical side and the corporate side. We’ve got team members who are knowledgeable in law, finance, business, manufacturing, cannabis processing, and more. If you’re shopping for another cannabis stock, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another company that has such a well-rounded team of individuals with these skill sets. That’s my major piece of advice: always look at the team first. Those are the people that are going to be driving the company forward. At the end of the day, our management team knows how to execute and get the job done. Top and bottom line.
What are the biggest challenges of being a publicly offered cannabis company?
Obviously, being a public company means that we have shareholders and our shareholders expect growth. They’re constantly wanting information, updates, and expect answers. One of the biggest challenges, for any publicly traded company, is that there are always things going on behind the scenes that sometimes shareholders don’t see. There are strategies that we’re executing daily that we can’t often communicate, especially in the newly established cannabis industry with various legal rules around communication. Shareholders will always just see the final numbers and the activity as far as the markets are being concerned. Specifically, our Communications and Investor Relations portion of the Nutritional High team focuses on being completely transparent and communicating effectively and efficiently. We want to ensure that shareholders understand the progress that has been made so far and our future ambitions and goals of the company moving forward.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into the cannabis space?
My advice is simply to recognize that the industry is growing. Cannabis legalization, in one form or another, is happening in more and more states. Which means that companies are going to continue to establish, function, and grow within those legalized states. We’re going to be seeing growth daily in this industry, especially from those states that have legalized medically and recreationally. As of now, millions of dollars in taxes have been accrued as a result of cannabis sales in a number of states. So, it’s natural for other states to see what’s happening and recognize the true opportunity that’s happening. My advice to an investor is that once the industry is fully established, it will be a multibillion dollar industry. Now is really the time to invest as the stock share prices are only going to increase over time. We’re in a growth spurt that’s about to take off like a rocket and travel across the U.S. incredibly quickly.
What are your biggest tips for branding cannabis?
In the cannabis space, your branding has to be trendy, creative, and upscale. We’ve developed our branding around these beliefs. During our research period, we went in a number of directions. But, at the end of the day, we knew that we wanted something short, memorable, and easy to understand. Which is where our name, FLI, came from. Unique, creative, but sharp. All reflections of the product that represents the name and branding.
Do you see any big changes coming in the future of cannabis?
It’s really all going to be centered on the growth that’s going to continue to push forward the industry. It’s booming and a lot of people, companies, and other industries have yet to recognize that. I think we’re going to be seeing companies establishing themselves with large corporate mentalities. There’s going to be less small scale operations and more market leaders emerging. This is where we want to align ourselves. It’s about setting the standard, doing things right, and firmly establishing ourselves as a building block in the industry. Legalization is also obviously going to play a major factor in the industry and in our company as well.