By: Jennifer Walker Vegas Cannabis Magazine sat down with Paul Schloss, President/CEO of Redwood Cultivation and Mesa Oils to find out what got him into the cannabis business, what innovations his team has introduced to the industry and if he really thinks that Mike Tyson spends $40,000.00 a month on cannabis… Vegas Cannabis Magazine: What […]
By: Jennifer Walker
Vegas Cannabis Magazine sat down with Paul Schloss, President/CEO of Redwood Cultivation and Mesa Oils to find out what got him into the cannabis business, what innovations his team has introduced to the industry and if he really thinks that Mike Tyson spends $40,000.00 a month on cannabis…
Vegas Cannabis Magazine: What brought you to Las Vegas and where are you from, originally?
Paul Schloss: I grew up in Alaska and called it home for 20 years. I graduated from Washington State University and hold a degree in Business Marketing. What really brought me here was a business opportunity in the food service industry- someone offered me a position in the bagel business. That took me from Alaska down to Vegas, via Texas. I ended up buying out that company (Brooklyn Bagels) from the Greenspun family. I started “Getting Legal” around 2013, and that gave me the opportunity to start talking with influencers and business contacts who were (at that time) talking about cannabis. They were watching the industry, and medical cannabis had been legal since the year 2000 for patients, but then they started talking about opening dispensaries. I was like, “what are you talking about?!” I mean, I knew it would be awesome, but at that time, I wasn’t seeing that trend anywhere yet. So, I started thinking about how to make medical cards more accessible to people and less expensive, and that’s how the idea of “Getting Legal” came about. One loophole that I spotted was that Nevada became a “reciprocity” state… meaning, you could be a California patient and use your card here in Nevada within (at first) a 24-hour time period after approval. Eventually, we got it down to one day, and then about 15 minutes. So that was a huge advantage for “Getting Legal” to cater to cannabis patients in and out of Nevada.
VCM: Did that experience lead you to the acquisition of your cultivation license? Were you always a cannabis advocate?
Paul: I’ve been smoking since I was 14 in Alaska where it was legal until 1984, then banned and now legal again for the past few years. In the early 90’s I tried growing and failed miserably- put 25 plants on the roof of my condo in Seattle and caught the attention of neighbors and when I moved them inside, I only caught the attention of insects. 2006 – 2014 I was brought under the wings of some very skilled cultivators and I helped relocate from multiple houses to large-scale warehouse operations. I use the skills I learned from them to this day, in our current operations. During those times I had a few brushes with the law for grey area cultivation, but was never convicted of any wrongdoing. Those court records became my cannabis resume! In 2012, I was invited to partner into a successful existing dispensary in Seattle with my college buddy. Here in Nevada, I came into the group (Redwood) after they had already acquired their licensing, but I was an asset as I had forged all of these industry connections and done a lot of the hard work- so I had more to bring to the table. I got very lucky on the cultivation side. I owe a lot of gratitude to Harris Rittoff, Sam Cherry and the Partners for having the trust in me to build Redwood into the success we have become.
VCM: Talk a little bit about Redwood and your team members.
Paul: My staff is incredible- they make things happen. I could never give them enough credit. After I joined the Redwood team, my first order of business was to hire Mike Tsairis to lead our Grow team. Mike started with the company in February 2017 and currently serves as Vice President. I met Mike through “Getting Legal” when someone in our office made a mistake on his card and I got involved to rectify the issue. At that time, I learned Mike just moved out to Las Vegas with exceptional cultivation experience and I looked forward to working with him when the right opportunity arose. I’ve really been lucky with the team we have built, like Lindsey Duesler (Director of Operations) who is involved in all aspects of the company. Robert Flores (Sales manager), Jake Casteel (Packaging Manager). and Brooke Igert (office manager). We rely on these key employees every day, 24/7– an awesome team of people. The Grow team, they make us into heroes. They are always looking for new phenos, new strains, and they give the brands their own identities that way. When I sign a brand, we bring the growers in and really try to give each brand their own personal spin with strains specific to them. An example would be the Jimi Hendrix brand, we brought in Purple Haze and Foxy Lady (strains) just for them. With Mike Tyson, we already had Sour Diesel out there, but Mike’s favorite strain is Sour Diesel so we gave it to Mike, exclusively. Our growers really take ownership and pride in matching up appropriate strains with brands and then cultivating those ideas.
VCM: Tell us a little bit about your facility, I know you’ve got some cool systems in place there…
Paul: Absolutely. Our Grow team is fairly small, we have three main growers: Chris Lingatong, Jeff Greiner and Ryan Yusico that are assisted by a few part-timers when it’s time for defoliation or special projects. We operate with Zwart Systems fertigation equipment (indoor) that’s run by Argus controls, we were one of the first cultivation groups in Nevada to introduce it. It makes this such an automated system that it allows our growers to focus their attention completely on the plants, as it should be. So instead of worrying about hand-watering, we have our system in place that tends to those types of tasks to free up our growers to only concentrate on the plants. For our air-conditioning, we use natural gas. It’s green, environmentally friendly, and technology friendly. The cost upfront wasn’t cheap, but it saves a huge amount of money every month. Our monthly bills stay the same all year. Consequently, Southwest Gas treats us like royalty! (laughs) They bring people in for tours all the time and show off our facility. We’re probably one of the only cultivators that the gas company has treated to perks like hockey games or bull-riding events in their VIP boxes! We really have a great working relationship. Another unique thing about our facility is that we’re on well water. We save quite a bit of money on our water. Our team knew when we first started that the prices would drop and eventually with competition, we could ensure that our prices would say in line, from the beginning. We can keep our expenses pretty low that way.
VCM: If you can expand a bit more on what makes Redwood function at its best and who is important to that process…
Paul: The most important people in my industry are the budtenders who are the biggest influencers as far as marketing. I can put a lot of money and effort into marketing, but the budtenders have the most personal influence over the customer. It’s like, the budtender can say to the customer “yea, that product you’re getting is great, but I also have this…” and show a new product or a great product to a customer who might not have otherwise known about it. That kind of personal marketing is so important.
VCM: Let’s get into branding a little bit. Talk about national brands, and if you can, elaborate on Mike Tyson’s brand, in particular
Paul: Mike is 100% involved. I remember the first time I heard about Tyson Ranch launching a few years ago, I wondered if Mike really smoked. After spending time with Mike I learned firsthand that he has been for years using it medicinally. They are an amazing group with the most talented team members on it. Mike knows good weed and is involved more than any other brand out there in the world. They just launched a CBD line that is incredible. The copper gel pain spray – it freakin’ works! Working with his brand has been our first real glimpse at Mike Tyson the cannabis entrepreneur, not necessarily Tyson, the fighter. There have been so many phases of Tyson’s career over the years, this is just a really unique way of looking at him. I mean, we all know him from these different things and pop culture references, but ultimately the family invested into the cannabis industry and started up Tyson Ranch. He’s doing a podcast now… he’s really settling into this new version of himself and he’s very pro-cannabis.
VCM: Right, we all read a few weeks ago the rumors about Tyson consuming $40,000 a month in cannabis…
Paul: You know what? It’s totally true! (laughs) Mike and his team are the real deal. In my opinion the Tyson Ranch team uses cannabis products everyday, and they know the difference between what’s quality and what’s not. Mike’s favorite strain is our Sour Diesel, which is available in many of the stores, currently.
VCM: What about some of Redwood’s other national brands?
Paul: Our first experience with a national brand was with Willie’s Reserve. We threw an epic launch party that was attended by Willie Nelson himself. Sales were great but we unfortunately separated a year-and-a-half later because of the lack of cannabis culture we felt the group running the brand was missing. We sure are still big fans of Willie himself, he is a music icon and understands the culture, himself. Our house brands, Stacked Deck, Redwood Trees, Pink Leaf and Nitrostx were created right away by the amazing and talented brand developer Eric Weiss of “e3dg”. I’ve worked and developed at least 15-20 brands with Eric over the last 15 years. We talk daily and will always work together. Eric now works with our celebrity brands as a consultant. He is our secret weapon in marketing. Cheech’s Stash (run by the family of legendary stoner Cheech Marin) has been excellent to work with. They are young, energetic and enthusiastic. Cheech has made himself very accessible to our dispensaries with numerous appearances at Nuwu, Reef, Inyo and many more. Always willing to accommodate however he can. We have had a few private industry events for budtenders to get to know him intimately. I was listening to Cheech and Chong records well over 45 years ago. Holy shit, I’m old! I can remember listening to the records with my brother and not understanding all the jokes but still laughing. Cheech was my first experience in hearing the word “marijuana”. I first met Dizzy Wright at a Vegas Cannabis Magazine event but loved his music since I first heard his song, “Can’t Trust ‘Em”. It’s simply a pleasure to work with him as he really is the nicest man in the music industry and brings his positive vibes to Redwood. Our Jimi Hendrix brand has a family connection. My father actually went to high school with Jimi Hendrix at Garfield High School in Seattle. I made a reconnection with the Hendrix group, including his brother Leon Hendrix, while owning my bagel shops back in 2003 when they were trying to launch a different Hendrix product. We knew then we’d be launching a Hendrix cannabis brand somewhere, someday. We launched the brand earlier this year and it has been ultra-successful. The same group has introduced me to the Peter Tosh family entrusting us to launch their cannabis brand in the U.S.
VCM: Talk a little bit about what’s coming down the pike for Redwood…
Paul: We have become the Nevada distributor for the Tyson Ranch CBD line which includes DWiink, gummies, tinctures, pain relief sprays and creams. Other than that, you never know! Each day is a new opportunity to grow- literally and figuratively. I’m just glad to be a part of the journey.