Green Check Verified: Hi Bonnie! Please tell us a bit about F5 Industries.
Bonnie Caldwell: F5 Industries is a vertically-integrated medical cannabis business comprised of dispensaries, cannabis farms, branded products and a temporary staffing solution for farms. We believe that cannabis is medicine and are proud to provide much needed solutions for patients. Our commitment to quality drives everything that we do—from having the highest quality products in our dispensary to growing premium flower that allows patients to have the best experience possible. We have built one of the most welcoming, patient-friendly dispensary environments in the state, ensuring that patients that have never used medical marijuana, as well as those with great knowledge of marijuana products, all feel comfortable in their experience. We are also dedicated to having a knowledgeable staff, providing education about products and practices to help patients obtain the best medical outcomes. Although we are producing our own flower and processed products, we still work with key partners to be able to provide a broad spectrum of products to our patients.
” They made a decision to stand out from the crowd by bringing together the best team possible.
When a few of our management team made the initial decision to get into the medical cannabis business, they made a decision to stand out from the crowd by bringing together the best team possible. Our leadership team consists of corporate executives and entrepreneurial experts as well as legal, medical, compliance and branding specialists who are committed to creating a medical marijuana business that will be here for the long term.
GCV: It sounds like F5 Industries has built a pretty robust business. What’s the size of your operation?
Caldwell: We have grown our team to 55 members at a farm, a staffing company and will have three dispensaries by the end of the year. Seed Cannabis Co. recently celebrated our one year anniversary of the opening of our first store. We started the cannabis journey with our F5 Industries leadership team at the beginning of 2019.
” The industry is full of diversity and each day brings new challenges.
GCV: That’s certainly a good sized team! What led you, personally, to the cannabis industry?
Caldwell: After spending years working for large companies in a compliance function, I was longing for more in my personal and professional life. The cannabis industry is the perfect marriage of my financial and compliance skills while also allowing me to share this medicine. I have been a cannabis user for years and did not enjoy the fact I needed to hide my use of medicine from my employer. The industry is full of diversity and each day brings new challenges.
GCV: Speaking of challenges, have you struggled with finding a sustainable banking partner in the past?
Caldwell: While starting up operations, I vetted several banking options both locally and nationally who all had some pitfalls. The fees were either outrageous or we would be required to drive to a different city each time we needed to deposit cash. When we finally landed on a local banking option, the application process was lengthy and took weeks to complete. After being with the first bank for a couple months, they sent out a letter letting us know we had 30 days to move all our money as they were dropping all cannabis accounts. We are on our second bank and the fees are still high, but so far we are very pleased with the service we have received. There are still limitations that slow us down such as one branch to deposit money, low limits on our debit cards and a stringent monitoring process.
” Being a cannabis entrepreneur is like exploring uncharted territory.
GCV: What was it liked getting your bank account set up?
Caldwell: Thankfully we were able to open our bank account prior to beginning operations within our dispensary, but the startup period was difficult. Tracking expenses took much more effort on top of the normal growing pains of a new business.
GCV: Is there anything else you want to tell us about what it’s like being a cannabis entrepreneur?
Caldwell: Being a cannabis entrepreneur is like exploring uncharted territory. People in all aspects of the medical cannabis world truly have to navigate change and uncertainty on a weekly basis. State, county, city and even neighborhood rules, regulations and roadblocks change and evolve often. Our team has had to stay on top of these changes, be flexible when faced with obstacles and stay focused to remain true to our mission of highest quality products and the educated team.
The Oklahoma market is really saturated with farms, processors and dispensaries. We have been fortunate to take on a fully vertical approach which helps us stay ahead in the highly competitive environment. The competition also drives market pricing down, but by staying focused on the total experience we are able to differentiate F5 Industries.