How did you come up with your company’s name?
Well, that's a great question. Back in the inception phase of the company, we were sitting around talking about what to call this idea that we had. We wanted ‘Green’ in there somehow, both since it’s cannabis and because we wanted to manufacture using Earth-friendly practices (our machines are almost entirely recyclable by the way). “Well, why not call it GreenBroz, because we’re bros (good buddies).” We decided to add the ‘OZ’ instead of ‘OS’ at the end, as a further nod to the industry because we used to always call it an OZ or a Zip, so that's how it came to be. We’ve experienced some kickback for the name being a little immature to some, but it means something to us and we’ve stuck behind it. Now it’s internationally known and synonymous with industry-leading harvesting equipment.
How important is safety when you're engineering new products?
Safety is paramount, both for our production staff while they are manufacturing our equipment, as well as the end users who are trusting our machines in their harvest process.
We just went through this iteration of converting the Alchemist to a personal protective equipment (PPE) cleaning machine for hospitals, first-responders, or anywhere else PPE is needed in this time of short supply. We’re working with a number of contributors, including IGTCAN, on this project and hoping to secure government contracts for the technology. When it comes to government contracting, and you start to go through the FDA certification process, you really see what it means to look at safety and regulations in a comprehensive and very serious way.
So, it's really, really important. After all, you can't make things too safe, right?
There's no such thing. Except for if that requires a machine not to function. I think of a table saw. One of the most brutal machines for fingers ever created is the table saw. It's a great machine, but you do need to be taught how to use it. Well, there's a company called Saw Stop that manufactures table saws, and if you touch the blade, it instantly stops. You could stick your finger into it, and I don't recommend ever doing that, but you can, and it will stop. It just literally throws a piece of aluminum into the blade at light speed because it's all piezoelectric. Bam, like that, and it just locks the blade.
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I've actually seen it work and I've seen it on a guy's finger, and he just nicked his finger. Point being, safety is a huge concern. You don't want rough edges on your equipment. You don't want sharp spots. You don't want to create the opportunity for people to get injured because if they can, they will. Even with all that said, there's a limit to what you can do. You do everything you can and then hopefully training and common sense will prevail and keep people safe while operating your equipment.
What are some new innovations you're using in your products?
This seems like a two-part answer. There are the innovations we’re creating and releasing, then the innovations we’re implementing in our manufacturing process.
In terms of our manufacturing process, one cool shift has been our move to laser welding. Not 100 percent because there's still a need for TIG welding on the stainless steel in larger parts, but we've moved over to mostly laser welding, which is radically changing the welds and the speed with which we can weld. It's just unbelievable.
Additionally, we've moved over to 100 percent 316 stainless steel (from 304). Initially we thought we would only implement it where the machine touched the plant, but we decided we wanted to do better than that. So, we got creative and worked out a really good deal with the mill who supplies the steel, and now we utilize it throughout the machine, further enhancing our product quality.
Switching to all 316 stainless steel also prevents confusion or mismatching in our production facility, so it won’t get mixed up with 304. 316 is more corrosive resistant and higher quality. It’s used in labs, kitchens, and other facilities like that.
In terms of our products, we’re constantly bringing innovation to the industry. Our latest release is the PPE Remediator, which will sterilize PPE equipment for hospitals, first-responders, and even cultivation facilities that find themselves needing to reuse protective equipment in these times of short supply.
The PPE Remediator implements technology we also plan to bring to the cannabis remediation process, which is sorely in need of a machine that works as advertised.
We have experience with other companies that have attempted to bring this solution to market, and failed, so we’ve collaborated with a handful of companies (each leading their own industry), to figure out a solution that works. We’re excited to bring this product to market later in 2020.
The Deserest Drying machine will be another release in 2020, which will bring a drying technology to the cannabis space unlike anything that it has seen before. We’re incredibly geeked out on this machine and it’s going to be another game-changer for GreenBroz.
What are some steps GreenBroz has taken to improve environmental responsibility?
Well, that's a great question, because I think from the beginning, we have been a leader in that respect. Everything that we have used in our products has been recyclable. We use high-density polyethylene that's untreated for that very reason. So that can go into reuse easily; same with the aluminum and the stainless steel.
Even the electronic parts are mostly recyclable as well because they can be broken down and reclaimed, but we're over 96 percent recyclable. And for a reason, we not only want to build the best machines possible, but we want to do it the right way and be stewards of our environment whenever we can make it happen.
What are your top three selling products right now?
However, our Precision Sorter has gone gangbusters over the past year, and cultivators are realizing the dramatic labor savings associated with quickly size-sorting your harvest. It really opens up the variation in processing material into a number of end-products.
Finally, the Precision Batcher, by our premier partners at Green Vault Systems, is the leading weighing and batching system in the industry. Before this machine hit the market, people either weighed/batched by hand, or used the crossover multi-head weigher, which is very inaccurate and boasts a high overpack and/or rejection rate compared to the batcher. The Precision Batcher was specifically designed for the cannabis plant by engineers who had previously worked on multi-head weighers and knew that technology would fall short with cannabis. Once this machine hit the market and people saw the dramatic difference in operation, labor savings, and accuracy, it has become a must-have for anyone who wants to be a serious player in their arena.
Do you have any expansion plans?
We’re always growing and evolving as a company. Our latest push into the PPE remediation market could really change the way this company functions. Instead of being a company that's branched into cannabis, we could be one of the first companies to branch out of cannabis, using cannabis as the foundation. And, of course, we will always stay true to our first love, but if we can get into the medical market with our equipment, that would be exciting too.
What are you doing to retain staff?
Retaining staff is very important to us as a company. We take various steps to encourage our employees to buy into our company culture. We do 401k matching and offer medical benefits. We're competitive in the marketplace for our wages and we foster a good team environment where everybody has room to thrive. One of the biggest things for me is allowing people to have their creative freedom. To be able to really shine in whatever area they're really good in. Obviously, you don't find it for everybody, but when you do, you get these people that are just rock stars and you're like, "Wow." And all I did was give them an opportunity.
How are you keeping pace in such a fast-moving industry?
From the beginning, we’ve worked tirelessly to not only keep pace with this industry, but at times leap ahead of it in terms of the equipment we offer. It has been fast paced since we joined over seven years ago, so we’re more than accustomed to the hard work it takes to keep pace.
I was just thinking about this the other day. Here we are in the midst of a pandemic, and we're developing three or four new machines. I got my engineers on overdrive.
They're absolutely getting run over by work. The manufacturing floor is constantly improving as we're tweaking our process to streamline operations even further.
Our small media team is on fire, promoting our large variety of machines while creating new collateral for our new releases. We’ve hired a heavy hitter to absorb some of my workload, which is great but at the same time hasn’t made any of us less busy. It’s more like, now we have time for these 10 other tasks we wanted to get going on.
I never had anybody tell me what my limitations were when I started this. I had my limitations told to me when I was in athletics, when I was in corporate America, I was well aware of what my limitations were.
But since I founded GreenBroz, I’ve never had anybody tell me there was any limit, and I've just treated it that way. I don't care what anyone else thinks, we're going to do this. We're going to have fun. And we operate it that way.
Describe your company culture.
I think the culture is interesting. It's shifted a little bit. It was a little tighter and more familial when we were a smaller company with less people. More intimate if you will. I think what we have now is more of a team, like a competitive organization, a competitive crew. You’ve got people throughout the whole thing who are interested in performing, seeing what they can add and contribute to this organization, but it's loose enough in the structure that no one is being throttled and held down.
Everyone is given the room to go and get it, and people are going and getting it. It's like an all-star team of people who are really jiving. I think, culturally, we're a well-oiled machine. We're a nice cohesive unit right now. And that's like a team instead of a family.
You've been able to bring your kids into the business as well. What does it mean for you to be able to provide them with gainful employment and see them at the office just about every day?
Well, it's interesting to see them as adults. I couldn't be happier. It's funny, my dad taught me my work ethic growing up. He was a workaholic. He worked at a brutal pace. And that was always my vision of success, that experience. And while, ultimately, he was not successful in the grand scheme of his business, I'm fortunate that I have been. I’ve always felt like that experience, learning that work ethic to be extremely valuable to me as a person. I wanted to have the ability to provide that for my children. When I started this company, they were younger, and there was more cannabis culture surrounding the company. There wasn't really any need or desire for them to be engaged.
It’s interesting, though, my kids have more cannabis awareness than I do. Cannabis was solely black market when I was growing up. If you smoked, it's because one of your buddies knew somebody, but you didn't know anything about it. So for me, there was this moment where the kids were young and I obviously can’t take them to trade shows or expose them in certain areas, because I'm not taking them to some of these clandestine farms and locations just out of respect for my family, because some places you go to and you realize it's serious.
They take their operation very seriously, with tight security. But now that it's changed and the culture has changed, and I’ve being able to bring them in. Plus, they're all adults now. My oldest son is 22 and he's running operations. He got a degree in business finance. My youngest son has another year, but he's getting his computer science degree, which has been a great help. He gets to practice his craft here. We don't have to have a full IT staff and he can handle everything remotely.
My daughter is planning on becoming a doctor and in the meantime she can earn a decent living, learning life skills she might not get in that profession. She’s training on the press brake, working with her hands and getting this whole other side to her development. I think it's very valuable. I like it for her and she appreciates it. So, I enjoy it. I'm glad. I wouldn't have it any other way, but I mean, they'll all probably grow up and go off and go do other things. But at least for the moment, we can share a relationship that's really unique. It's an adult relationship that many parents don’t get to experience.
What are your thoughts on the future of the industry?
I think the industry's going the way that every other industry is, and that's bigger, better, faster, more. We're working on ways to increase production throughput and value, and that's everybody's goal. You want to start knocking down the things that get in your way while increasing your margins and value to your customers, and then of course, to your company and to your employees. And then if you have shareholders to those guys too.
I see it becoming more automated. I see the growth accelerating. I see the acceptance of a global industry. I see consolidation happening, of course. But even with consolidation, you're seeing rapid changes from our perspective. A consolidated company has a different mindset. They're doing much more work.
They have a different mindset about equipment and everything else, which helps us to help them streamline and move forward.