Editors’ Note: This is the transcript version of the podcast. Please note that due to time and audio constraints, transcription may not be perfect. We encourage you to listen to the podcast, embedded below if you need any clarification. We hope you enjoy!
Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) is a commonly used term in the cannabis industry, encompassing brands and dispensaries. When it comes to luxury purchases, the entire experience and the emotions it evokes play a crucial role in evaluating customer satisfaction. Luxury brands can command premium prices due to their positioning and the inherent value associated with their products. While the cannabis industry is gradually moving towards establishing such premium price points, it requires a deep understanding of exceeding expectations at every customer touch point.
Implementing and refining these strategic principles is a valuable endeavor. However, it presents significant challenges, including current marketing restrictions, limited capital resources, and the complex nature of establishing a consistent national brand identity in a market that operates on a localized basis.
Applying and developing these strategic principles is a valuable undertaking but comes as a steep uphill challenge.
This week we sit down with David Goubert, CEO of Ayr Wellness, to discuss the following:
- How AYR is applying luxury retail principles
- Implementing realignment strategy and why certain assets didn’t fit
- Key touchpoints in the customer journey
- Where Opportunities are in cannabis via marketing
About: David Goubert
David Goubert is President and CEO of Ayr Wellness and is responsible for overseeing the Company’s operational and commercial functions, including production, supply chain, retail, wholesale and marketing.
Mr. Goubert joined Ayr from Neiman Marcus Group, one of the largest multi-brand retailers in the United States, where he helped lead the company through a transformation into one of the strongest retailers in the country. Most recently, he served as NMG’s President and Chief Customer Officer, where he was responsible for the full P&L of the Neiman Marcus brand as well as all customer touchpoints.
Prior to joining Neiman Marcus, Mr. Goubert spent 20 years at LVMH, the world’s leading luxury consumer-products company. At LVMH, David served in a variety of capacities, including Senior Vice President of LVMH’s Starboard Cruise Services subsidiary and 15 years leading manufacturing, supply chain, retail and general management at the company’s flagship Louis Vuitton brand.
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[00:00:00] Bryan Fields: What’s up guys? Welcome back to the episode of The Dime. I’m Brian Fields and with me as always, as Kellen Phon. This week we’ve got a very special guest, David Gobert, president and c e o of Air Wellness. David, thanks for taking the time. How you doing
[00:00:13] David Goubert: today? I’m, I’m, I’m doing great and thanks for, for having me.
[00:00:16] So, uh, Brian Kellen, really excited to be here with you guys and, uh, doing
[00:00:20] Bryan Fields: great. Excited to talk strategy today with you, David Kellen, how are you doing?
[00:00:24] Kellan Finney: I’m doing really well. I’m really excited to talk to David and kind of learn the inner workings of, uh, air and kind of his, his background and what led him into to cannabis,
[00:00:32] Bryan Fields: you know?
[00:00:33] Yeah. I’m excited. How are, how are you, Brian? I’m excited. I think we’re gonna talk transitions and Of course, just for the record, David, we’ve got a little east coast, west coast battle, so, ah, if you could just give your location, please.
[00:00:44] David Goubert: Yeah, I’m, I’m located in, in South Florida, in, uh, near, near Miami. So I’m, I’m east coast guy.
[00:00:52] Bryan Fields: Let the record stay, calendar, go. So, David, for our listeners, unru about, you can give a little background about yourself and then kind of how you got into the
[00:00:59] David Goubert: cannabis [00:01:00] space. Yeah, yeah, for, for sure. Um, well, you got that from, from now through the accident. And what I said, I’m French, I grew up in France.
[00:01:08] Um, I actually have an engineer background, so my, my background education was more into supply chain and manufacturing, and I did that for a few years, long time ago, about 30 years in, in France. Um, pretty quickly. Joined the luxury business with, with Louis Vuitton in 99, after a few years of working, consulting and manufacturing.
[00:01:28] Um, and, and from there, I, I spent, I. About 10 years with them. More on, with, we lived on, with the brand, more on the manufacturing and supply chain of the company. Uh, but after those years and let’s say 15 years of being focused on supply chain manufacturing, stuff like that, I got the bug for retail. So I asked, um, the leaders of Louis Vuitton at that time, if they would let me manage.
[00:01:52] Retail is somewhere in the world and turn out to be in, in the US and in, in the southeast of the us. So about 15 [00:02:00] years ago, I, I moved to the US for a second time, but moved to the US uh, to run the retail of, of Louiston. And then, then from there, the most recent 15 years have been about running retail, marketing, e-commerce, and general management.
[00:02:14] Of of companies like Louiston Starboard, Neiman Marcus, and, and before joining the cannabis industry, uh, I was for Neiman Marcus for three and a half years. So that was my, my previous, I’d say most recent experience where I was the, uh, the president and running the, the Neiman Marcus brand, which is the, the big of the bulk of the Neiman Marcus group.
[00:02:34] Um, and, and it’s about a $4 billion business in, in the luxury industry. And so that was my, Last job, I would say. So I, I got lucky to work in again, supply chain manufacturing, retail marketing, and so on. Which I think got into your second, second part of your question, which is why cannabis and how did you get into cannabis?
[00:02:54] Um, I’d say about two years ago. Something like [00:03:00] that. I started thinking, Hey, I’ve been for in luxury for about 20 years. I want to experience something different and I want to, to experience something that one, uh, plays maybe to the skillset that I’ve been able to, to develop and lucky to develop over the years.
[00:03:14] Two, in an industry that’s a growing industry, uh, where we’re, uh, we can do stuff and three where I feel like. My contribution is a contribution, so to something that’s a greater good in some ways, uh, and that was very, very important to me to do that. Um, so. I had the chance to meet John, uh, sentiment, the founder of, of Air about a year and a half ago.
[00:03:39] Um, and, and John and I started talking, and very quickly, uh, I realized how much the, the cannabis industry is actually really doing great stuff and, and helping people in their life. Uh, and at the same time, very quickly, we real, we realized that. The things I’ve done from a supply chain, manufacturing, leading retail, and so on, and [00:04:00] the other things actually can, can play in, in cannabis where it, it’s a virtually integrated business that that’s the same time a very complex business.
[00:04:09] I’m sure we’ll come back to that, uh, where you do a bit of everything at the same time. Right. But, but having that chance of having those experiences is helping and then, Um, I really bolted into the vision of the company and the, the fact that it’s about that, that greater good and greater engagement at the same time.
[00:04:27] And then the last thing that, that really made us make this decision together, John, was the fact that, um, in the life cycle of air, which let’s say four years old, right? Uh, the company has been very much about, um, growing through acquisitions and making sure that we’re building the right foundation. So, But at the same time, we’re going to a place where it’s about scaling and optimizing and making sure that we have the right focus, uh, and, and clarity on the strategy for the team.
[00:04:57] And, and that speaks very much to [00:05:00] things that I’ve had a chance to do before. So we felt the industry makes sense from that standpoint. The, the, the moment made sense. Uh, and to me, the fact that it, it is, it helping from a very good standpoint is key. Was
[00:05:14] Kellan Finney: there, uh, any other companies that you looked at prior to, to joining Air?
[00:05:19] Or was it just kind of your relationship with John and, and that whole kind of
[00:05:23] David Goubert: uh, no. Yeah. Awesome. Yeah, great question. Um, no, I, because we very early had that relationship with, with John and that, that back and forth quite a few times before even exploring anything about, okay, what’s the company’s about?
[00:05:40] What’s the vision? What do we care about? And, and tell me about the foundations and so on that I didn’t feel necessary to go looking somewhere else. So, um, and, and a few months later, here we are. Right? Um, so no, it’s, I, I didn’t look to other companies and felt that [00:06:00] that was the right fit.
[00:06:01] Bryan Fields: I’m always fascinated about that transition when you’re telling your inner circle, Hey, like, I’m thinking about leaving my job and taking a job in cannabis.
[00:06:08] People said, Hey, David, cannabis, like, what is wrong? Like, was there any of those conversations? Did they give you any of those feelings? You know, take us through those feelings.
[00:06:15] David Goubert: Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, it’s, uh, um, you never have, or you rarely have someone that doesn’t. Who’s the answer is, eh. Great. Yeah. Um, it’s either, What the hell are you doing?
[00:06:32] This is car suicide or It is, man, it’s amazing. Uh, I can see why the growth that it’s gonna have and the fact that it’s, it’s serving people this way is amazing. That’s for you. Go do it. I’m happy for you. Um, vast majority is actually that second part, but you do have a few people that are like, Hey, what, what the hell are you doing?
[00:06:57] Um, so. In my [00:07:00] case, I, I had that personal conviction that it was time to do something different and that the only place I would go work would be places where there is that combination of, of growth right moment in the, the, the life cycle of the company, uh, connecting with the people. Clearly and, and feeling that I’m, I’m useful in a way, in a, in a, in a greater way.
[00:07:23] So, but to your point, it’s, uh, it always comes up. Um, as a question, I would say that stopping talking about myself for a minute, but more as we’re building the team, um,
[00:07:37] It’s been a bit of the same thing. Like, you know, you, when you build a team like that, you always go to the people you’ve worked with at some point and be like, Hey, what do you think? Refer me to someone or Are you interested? Um, and I’ve found more than, than I thoughted, uh, not only are willingness kind of like, Hey, [00:08:00] yeah, I want, I want to jump in.
[00:08:02] So maybe that’s reflective also of the evolution in the US population about, about cannabis at the same time maybe. Uh, but, but uh, really felt that it was easier that I was expecting from that standpoint.
[00:08:14] Kellan Finney: So you make the transition. Talk us through those first few weeks. Was it just like learning by a fire hose?
[00:08:19] David Goubert: Yeah. Um, so I was lucky enough that in the transition we had decided that yeah, I would take the role of president, but not the role of c e o immediately, and that I would take the time to really visit, be with the teams and, and go to as many locations as possible. And, and I mean, to your point, learn from the fire hose like completely.
[00:08:40] So I joined November 1st. Uh, not kidding. November, December, I don’t think I spent a day in Flo in Miami. Uh, uh, I was on the road visiting stores, visiting cultivation with the teams for a full two months. Uh, and I continued to do it afterwards. To me, that’s key, but, but really that first [00:09:00] two months was that, and it was learning as much as possible and, and discovering, uh, and at the same time it was.
[00:09:09] Asking a lot of questions about why do you work in cannabis? Why do you work at air? And that was overwhelming in the sense of, I think so far I’ve met only one person, one person that hasn’t served because I need a job, which is fair, by the way. Right. Uh, but the vast, vast majority was like, I’m working in cannabis.
[00:09:31] I’m not talking about air for now, but the industry, I’m working in cannabis because, It made a difference in my life or in someone’s life around me, and it felt na, natural and necessary for me to work in this industry. Um, that’s an awesome thing for a leadership team or for a leader. That’s an awesome thing to have because you got people that are passionate about working in industry.
[00:09:55] So my first two months, Kelly, back to your question, my first two months were very much about [00:10:00] discovering and, um, The main thing was how do we make sense of this business? Uh, how do we make sense of a business where you cultivate your plants, you process them into very different form factors you sell in your own retail, but you also wholesale your products to others.
[00:10:25] By the way, you buy products from others that are also your competitors in some cases. And you’re also a C P G business that build brands and needs to build equity in your brands that you sell in your stores, but also to others. And, and by the way, to make it even more complicated, you can do that state by state because nothing can move across state lines.
[00:10:46] Um, that’s not an easy business model, that’s not an easy business model. So a lot of the work. In November, December, but even more in January was all right. How do we make sense of that so that we can [00:11:00] actually have very simple, uh, goals and, and focus as a company? Because if, if we try to do everything everywhere, we’ll fail.
[00:11:10] Um, so how do we make sense of this? And so the first two months was those visits and really having that in mind, the month of January was very much about. Making, making sense of what’s the strategy for the next three years. Uh, and, and from there, the following three months by then, actually that’s when the transition to c e o happened at the very beginning of February.
[00:11:30] And then from there it was, okay, let’s build a team based on what we’ve discussed of what the strategy should be. And the business model is let’s build a team, really organize the organization, the, the, the company, uh, to be able to answer to that and, and bring great clarity. To, to the focus for, for that growth and for that sustainable growth in the future while, hey, we’re in cannabis while at the same time, cash is king and we need to make sure that we be, we’re very, very, um, [00:12:00] focused on being cashflow positive, operating cashflow positive, uh, for this year.
[00:12:04] So that’s been the first long answer. That’s been the first six months, or, or, or seven months, let’s say. So far, uh, discovery, slow down to align on strategy and then. A team, uh, based on the, the key actions that we’ve decide and, and get going.
[00:12:22] Bryan Fields: Yeah. It’s such a fascinating, like complex puzzle that you’re kind of hopping on like a full speed train.
[00:12:27] And I know from your previous role, You came from a mature industry that had defined metrics, defined, defined players with rules. You come to cannabis and you’re kind of like understanding, okay, which metric is key for this part of the business? Which metric is key and how do they align internally? So I can only imagine the type of restrictions and challenges that kind of blame into it because Right, like, like you were saying, your Arizona business operates different than you, your Massachusetts business.
[00:12:51] And plus you’re in different stages. Each market is in different stages. So like from a time standpoint, did you spend your time working in. More mature markets? [00:13:00] Or was it more future outbound strategy? Or was it just kind of everything at the same time? It, it, it’s been
[00:13:04] David Goubert: both. I think the, the step one was, um, so, um, two things before I go into that strategy.
[00:13:11] The, the, the first one is that even coming in, before coming in, I felt that air as a great foundation from uh, um, states we’re in. Or developing, uh, but also where we are from a cultivation, if you want standpoint in terms of having, having really built the, the infrastructure that that was needed. So that part I would say was already, well, kind of well established and with, with clarity in terms of, hey, these are the type of states we want to be in, and we’re not here to be the biggest and being everywhere in every state, we’re pretty.
[00:13:49] Um, I’m not gonna say narrow, but, but focused in term of, of, uh, where we we want to be. But so that was already kind of established. Um, [00:14:00] the most important again was what do we want this business model to be? Who are we? And on that front, kind of what came pretty quickly was say, okay, uh, on one side we’re a retailer.
[00:14:16] We’re a retailer. We have 85 stores. They’re not all air uh, cannabis dispensary right now, but they will. But we have a network of, of retail and, and we’re a retailer that that’s one part of who we are. And on the other side, we are, uh, what, what I call a house of brands, meaning we’re a C P G company that build brands, uh, and, and cultivate and process products.
[00:14:45] That needs to be at the right quality for those brands based on what’s the promise of the brand and what, what are we creating in each of these brands. And so pretty quickly, uh, realize that we’re both these things at the same time. A [00:15:00] retailer and a hazard brand. First question you can ask yourself after that is, Well, if we’re two different companies, two different businesses, why are we one company and is there value in being one company or should we be two companies?
[00:15:12] Like you could split that and say on one side you’re a retailer, pure retailer. On the other side you’re a house of brands, right? That sell in different places. Um, and, and, and, and going a bit deeper on that, like, okay, if we are to be one business that has those two different business model, if you want.
[00:15:35] Uh, it has to pay off as being something that is a virtual circle or, uh, or, or to me that is what I call a flywheel of, of that. And so, uh, and it is actually, I think it is, um, I think it’s gonna pay off more in a, in a, let’s say two years than it is today. But it is meaning as a retailer, [00:16:00] Uh, and I like to take an example of from my background saying, Hey, we’re at the same time a mini Sephora and a mini L’Oreal.
[00:16:11] Uh, as a mini Sephora, the only thing you care about, quite frankly, the only asset besides your team, your people, which always is your number one asset, but your only asset as a retailer is building a loyal customer base. People are going to Sephora instead of going to Alta or going to another because they are loyal to Sephora, not because they can find products, because 99% of the products, they can find them in the other places.
[00:16:40] But because there’s something that was built from a loyalty of customers that they buy into, and it’s a community that they feel part of, and that’s the asset of any retailer was the same case at Niman Marcus. Why do you shop Neman Marcus Ex instead of sacs? You’re building loyalty. Uh, with, with that, so [00:17:00] on one side we’re a retailer and, and the only asset, the only focus is building a loyal customer base.
[00:17:05] And we can come back to what does it mean as a house of brands. Your only job is developing brands that make sense and have a real d n a story promise and making sure that the quality of the products. That you, you, you deliver, uh, correspond to those brands, right? Especially if we go in a good, better, best in terms of how do you structure your brands.
[00:17:30] So once we’ve said that, we say, okay, there’s only three assets we need to focus on. We need to build a loyal customer base for retail. We need to have str brands that have equity. Today, frankly, they don’t. Uh, and we need to make sure that the quality that we deliver corresponds to the promise of those brands.
[00:17:52] So three focus period. And where I’m saying that it’s, uh, it can be a real flywheel. Is that as [00:18:00] you build a loyal customer base for retail, you can actually expose them to your brands, which I mean, we know that everyone is around 60, 70% internalization. So here we are. Uh, but the other way around is true as well as you develop brands and really brands that start to have their own following becomes pretty easy to pull that and, and support your, your own network, while also supporting wholesale as a business, right?
[00:18:23] So you actually get to that. Flying wheel or, or or vis
[00:18:28] or virtu circle
[00:18:30] of, of growing the retail, but growing the equity of your brands at the same time. I’m saying it, it’s gonna take time on that front because I think that efforts on the retail side are actually paying faster than efforts in rationalizing the brand.
[00:18:47] Really creating the story behind the brands and creating equity in brands. And that is work we need to do now, but that’s gonna pay off. I think more in a year or two years than it will very short term. [00:19:00]
[00:19:01] Bryan Fields: So you’ve identified your
[00:19:06] feed into
[00:19:06] Kellan Finney: each other, right? Hey, you wanna,
[00:19:09] David Goubert: Kelly, you were breaking
[00:19:10] Bryan Fields: up a bit. Am I? Am I glitching? Yeah, I don’t. Gotcha. Kelly? Yeah, I totally,
[00:19:16] Kellan Finney: all right. Am I here now?
[00:19:18] Bryan Fields: You’re so far. How about now?
[00:19:20] David Goubert: Yep.
[00:19:20] Think it’s better now? Yeah.
[00:19:23] Bryan Fields: Yeah. So the businesses feed into each other. Yeah. Right? Yeah.
[00:19:26] Kellan Finney: Specifically. And so how do you balance resources
[00:19:30] Bryan Fields: on both sides?
[00:19:32] Is it kind of
[00:19:32] Kellan Finney: equal and hoping that they both feed into each other simultaneously?
[00:19:37] Bryan Fields: Um, the thought process
[00:19:38] Kellan Finney: behind the balancing of resources is for both businesses.
[00:19:42] David Goubert: And that’s a awesome question because once we’ve done that, the next job was actually to make sure that we build the organization to support those assets, right?
[00:19:51] Uh, and in some places pretty easy. Your own retail organization is very focused on retail, but the place where we had to think through what does it mean [00:20:00] is in marketing, where marketing is actually a place that’s an e-commerce at the same time that supports. Uh, at the same time you’re retail, but supports at the same time how you build brands and build awareness.
[00:20:11] So we we’re the marketing organization to really have the functions that are retail functions versus the functions that are more, um, brands, functions, and brand support. And, and, and, and yes, to your point, from an investment standpoint, it it, it is measuring. Where do we put more resources and from a people standpoint and from a CapEx and, and and opex standpoint, uh, between those different priorities and assets that we want
[00:20:45] Bryan Fields: to develop.
[00:20:47] I’m sure you made your marketing team very happy when you made that statement, cuz I can only imagine as a, as a marketer how, how happy that would make me feel to hear an executive come in and understand the importance and the value of marketing, especially given the challenge [00:21:00] of cannabis. So you align your three North stars.
[00:21:02] Yeah. Now you’re looking at your geographic map and saying, okay, which one of these assets in these different states doesn’t fit the vision? Is that kind of the steps that went into it? Exactly. Can you walk us through kind of the Arizona decision on why, you know, decided to go in a different
[00:21:15] David Goubert: direction?
[00:21:15] Yeah, yeah. No. Um, where you it’s, it’s, it’s exactly that. So, um, the only way we can actually make this work is if we build enough awareness and enough market share. And if we don’t build enough market share in the market, uh, that flywheel is not gonna fly or it’s not gonna turn. Um, and in the case of Arizona, uh, three stores in the state, uh, pretty limited presence from a wholesale standpoint and pretty disconnected from the rest of our network, uh, geographically.
[00:21:55] And when you put all that together, It didn’t fit into the strategy [00:22:00] of, of we need to gain market share in retail. We need to gain market share in wholesale. We need to build brands that will have a following and make these things work together. Arizona was complicated for us. Maybe it works for other others, but as we were looking at priority of investments and work to focus, that didn’t fit the bill and.
[00:22:19] On top of that, it was the right decision from a balance sheet standpoint, and we haven’t talked cash yet, but that’s a key, key focus. So didn’t fit the strategy from everything we talked about earlier. Uh, great outcome for us from a balance sheet standpoint made the decision pretty easy. We made the same decision at the same time, pretty much by not, uh, acquiring D 33 in Illinois because don’t have the depth yet in Illinois.
[00:22:46] Don’t have cultivation in Illinois. D 33 has a great culture. That is different from the air culture and, and would require a lot of efforts and good question. Does that make sense? At some point to, uh, to, to, to transform that? So, [00:23:00] um, was not a priority at the moment. Doesn’t mean Illinois will not be a state at some point bigger than the two stores we have today.
[00:23:06] Uh, but didn’t make sense to make that a huge priority, shorter term. So those two places were places where we said, Hey, time out. That’s more of a disinvestment that makes sense from a, a, a, a strategy standpoint. Now, if you look at the rest of the network, right, existing and what we’re developing right now, it’s in Florida, it’s in northeast, Midwest, kind of, and it’s Nevada.
[00:23:32] Um, for us, it’s important as we build one retail brand. Air cannabis dispensary, that people that travel products don’t travel people do, uh, that people that travel can identify to the retail brand as what we are trying to do is build loyalty. So being in Florida with, uh, a significant market share, uh, being in no northeast states as New Jersey, Massachusetts sets, um, uh, [00:24:00] Pennsylvania and so on, developing Ohio, Connecticut, um, looking at Illinois or what would we’re gonna do one day.
[00:24:08] But also Nevada, where we have a high market share, uh, the highest market share in the state, um, Nevada makes sense, meaning everybody travels to Nevada, but Northeast Florida goes there. And, and between Florida and Northeast, as we know or Midwest is, is a pretty, uh, obvious kind of from a customer and geographic standpoint.
[00:24:31] So that’s how we’ve been thinking about it, which means as we think as. Developing into new states or stuff like that. That’s also the approach we need. We want to take, we want to be in a place that makes sense from a geographic standpoint, want to be in a place where we can have a significant market share.
[00:24:47] And we want to be in a place that is, uh, disciplined from a regulation standpoint, uh, that, that we can actually operate and operate in a, in a healthy way. And that’s what’s guiding So. [00:25:00] Besides, as we said, Arizona and Illinois, all the other states that we’re in makes a lot of sense. And for us, there are states where we want to invest and some are mature, but we still want to invest and think that we can do much better.
[00:25:15] Nevada, uh, some are growing fast and same thing Florida, uh, and some are just starting now, like Ohio. Or they’re steady like Pennsylvania, but we’re all waiting for adult use
[00:25:29] Kellan Finney: there. You guys, uh, have to intrinsically run like your rec businesses different, different than your med businesses, right? So the business operating in Nevada, in recreational market, do you guys handle that significantly different than say, business operating in Pennsylvania?
[00:25:46] And if so, like can you kind of talk us through some of the nuances there? Yeah,
[00:25:51] David Goubert: yeah. I, I don’t think there’s. So obviously what what differs and what we need to be very careful of is, uh, the regulation [00:26:00] and the things that are, are different from a regulation standpoint. Um, that said, I don’t think that there’s, um, major differences in term of the experience.
[00:26:13] That we want to create for a, a, a, a patient that’s in a medical state or that is a medical patient, uh, versus uh, uh, a recreational, uh, or person. Because, and the main reason for that, uh, which I, I, I love that by the way, and I think it’s untapped, uh, is that we’re in a business that creates pretty intimate relationship.
[00:26:39] And whether it’s because. You’re a patient with, uh, a need that is specific to, to your situation that you explain with a butt tender and create that very, very intimate relationship. Whether you just want someone that’s gonna help you find the best products for you, that’s gonna help you relax or, or discover something [00:27:00] different.
[00:27:00] You are in a, in a relationship that’s pretty intimate with that person and, and, and sharing a lot about yourself. Um, and I love that. In term of what we can build from a customer loyalty and customer relationship standpoint. The other thing that I love about this industry is that the frequency is very high, and by the way, the retention as well.
[00:27:21] Uh, I keep saying, Hey, I come from the luxury world where everybody’s talking about loyalty of customers. C L V, meaning customer lifetime value of customers, and so on. A customer in luxury spends five, $600 per visit. Comes three times a year. That’s like 1500 to two grand a year. A cannabis customer comes every two weeks, spends, depending on the market, 60 to $120.
[00:27:50] Guess what? Their value per year is the same as the value of, of, of a, a, a luxury customer. Um, if you ask me, I prefer [00:28:00] the cannabis customer, if I have 26 times. Per year or 25 times per year or chance to connect, not even talking about what we need to do from a, a digital standpoint and, and connection outside of the physical presence of the store.
[00:28:17] This is a goldmine compared to other industries. If you get the intimacy, a pretty high retention possibility and a lot of touchpoint, that’s a dream for a retailer. Um, so I love that about cannabis.
[00:28:34] Bryan Fields: Was that one of the driving forces internally in your mind when you were thinking, okay, like in, in luxury, I have one or two experiences with this customer, but I know in cannabis I’ll get a lot more.
[00:28:43] Did that opportunity kind of excite you, understanding that you can leverage that accelerator and learn more about the customer? Was that part of the, the transition that made you kind of interested? I,
[00:28:52] David Goubert: I did not realize that as much before coming in and it, it, it, it came through the visits and through seeing, actually [00:29:00] physically seeing in the stores, um, Customers and patients that are in the store, but they’re waiting because, I don’t know, uh, Bob, their bartender is actually serving someone else and they’re like, no, I’m not gonna go with with Joe.
[00:29:13] I’m gonna wait for Bob because I want, I want to have the time with Bob. I was like, wow, that’s gold. Um, but I did not necessarily realize that before joining. Like, I didn’t know, uh, it’s through the visits that I was like, wow, we gotta, we gotta really do something about that. Did Bob
[00:29:32] Bryan Fields: get a raise? Yeah, I hope so.
[00:29:35] What he asked did Bob got a raise.
[00:29:38] David Goubert: I
[00:29:39] Kellan Finney: said, did Bob get a raise? He’s going into HR right now. He’s gonna go into hr. Oh, hey. You
[00:29:44] David Goubert: know, um, it’s, it’s very important to take great care of our, our teams and recognize the value of the team. Uh, I’ve been impressed. Since I arrived, I’ve been impressed by the actually customer experience from that standpoint, that intimate [00:30:00] moment.
[00:30:00] And I’ve been, uh, very impressed by the knowledge and, uh, and at the same time, the care there are teams have. And by the way, if you think about it, it’s not surprising. And we’re back to the same question about why are you here, right? It’s people that care, uh, and that translates so well into the experience.
[00:30:19] So if you ask me, The improvement of the experience is not that much about that very moment. Yes, there’s work to do there, but that, that is already in a very good place. I think compared to other retail industries, I think it’s everything around, uh, and I’m not talking that much about the physical environment by the way.
[00:30:38] I think it’s everything around that we can do such a better job, um, than we are today. Um, by that I mean the, uh, overall customer journey that integrate digital and, and physical. It is how do we communicate with our patients and customers where they are not with us physically? And, and what does that look like?
[00:30:59] It’s the [00:31:00] understanding by the teams of. Um, hey, Brian was here last week. Have you asked him, have we contacted him to ask him about this experience and or Brian was here two months ago, we haven’t seen him in two months. What’s happening with Brian? Um, and those are more of the things that we need to work on.
[00:31:19] Then the moment of the experience physically that I think is already really great and always can do better. Uh, neither the environment itself. At some point we need to improve the environment. In my opinion, it’s like number four, number five in the priorities. And it’s like, Hey, yeah, we’ll do some stuff, but that’s not key.
[00:31:39] Bryan Fields: One of the challenges for you must be the fact of, from a balance sheet standpoint, it’s kind of restrictive with some of the operations you have ob obviously you’ve come flush with opportunities and ideas in order to improve this business. But as a new executive, you have to be prudent with capital, especially from a shareholder standpoint.
[00:31:52] They wanna know, you know, David’s gonna come in, he’s gonna ride the ship. So how do you balance that as a new c e O of a publicly traded company wanting to put your [00:32:00] stamp on. The company, but also the same time being respectful of what the need to happen. Yeah.
[00:32:06] David Goubert: so it’s clear that cash is king. Having a strong, healthy balance sheet is paramount.
[00:32:16] Especially for, I mean for everyone, but truly for us, considering where we are, But at the same time, we need to have clarity on where are we going to the, to in the two, three years. And, again, narrowing that focus so that we’re not trying to boil the ocean, but we’re very, discreet, very clear on the few things that will make a difference.
[00:32:39] The balance that we found is that, luckily in a way we have a lot of opportunities for optimization. From a not even a balance sheet necessarily standpoint, but even from a p and l standpoint, we have a lot of, [00:33:00] of, potential for optimization because the company has been growing very fast through acquisitions.
[00:33:06] it’s been in a different time of, cannabis at the same time. And here we are at the moment where we can say, Hey, we need to prioritize. We need to be focused. And, we need to make sure that, we leverage our assets, to, be in a good place for a cash position. So what that means comfortably for AYR we had, and we still have too much inventory compared to where we should be. And so I’m taking my supply chain hat and saying, Hey guys, we’re, running at, an inventory that is at 90 plus million dollar. For, a revenue of 117 million in the last quarter. That’s almost 90%, meaning 85, 90% of the inventory representing the sales for the quarter best in class in the industry are capable of doing that with 50, 60%.[00:34:00]
[00:34:00] and, you can see everywhere that we’re not balanced from that inventory. So that is an opportunity of 10, 20 million of, cash if you want, through a, better management from an inventory standpoint. Let’s make sure we bring the talent from a supply chain. Let’s make sure that we make the right decisions in terms of right sizing capacity, right sizing, skews, and so on.
[00:34:24] that, that’s one example in inventory margin is another one where I think we, we, despite price compression, where we have opportunities, um, it’s a, which I don’t love, but it is what it is. It’s a highly discounting, uh, industry right now. To the point that sometime we’re stacking discounts that we don’t need to stack.
[00:34:45] Um, so again, having that health, uh, of looking at really what do you, where do you stack, don’t stack and so on. There’s opportunities from a margin through internalization and other things. So that’s been a big focus from a, a [00:35:00] cash standpoint. And then the, uh, The third one is on the cost savings. I mean, we, we found millions and millions and millions of savings, uh, for, for the year that will allow us to get to a much better place from an sg and a standpoint, um, again, because we’re pausing from a, a, a very different moment that was about acquiring, acquiring, acquiring, and now it’s about optimizing and scaling.
[00:35:25] So, Even though you get upset, that constraint from a, a cash standpoint, I’d say that doing that work, what we call our 2023 optimization plan, gives us at the same time, uh, the capability to invest in the things that matter. So it’s making sure we get to a good place and we, we, uh, um, we said that we would be at 25% of EBITDA by the end of the year.
[00:35:50] Uh, we said that we would be operating cashflow positive for this year. So all that work is going into all this. But at the same time, it’s, it’s kicking the can if you don’t [00:36:00] invest in the things that actually generate growth in the second half of the year. And, and then for the, the, for the year 24,
[00:36:06] Bryan Fields: 25.
[00:36:08] Yeah, I, I think we’re on the same page with that and I think it’s critically important. And I wonder how many other cannabis companies probably need to take an inward look on optimizing their efforts. And I can only imagine from a supply chain perspective of looking out and of all the different operations across the different states and saying, okay, everybody, we’re gonna have to tighten it up and these are the type of numbers we’re gonna have to hit.
[00:36:25] And then kind of digging deep into understanding, you know, what are the root causes of these problems? You know, where’s the decision making? And then kind of correlating, is it just in Florida? Is it New Jersey? Is it in Ohio? How do like, Is it a singular problem or is it kind of a compounded problem that works through the supply chain in, in each different state?
[00:36:42] David Goubert: No, that’s where you get into the business units, and each business units is unique from that standpoint because, uh, Florida is in a very different situation in so many ways than Ash said. I mean, those are probably two really good examples, man. On one side you have. [00:37:00] Uh, Florida where you can only sell the products that, that you grow right in your store.
[00:37:04] So it’s a, it’s the most purely, uh, integrated business. But at the same time, it’s a business where, uh, there’s growth where you can open as many stores as you want, uh, if it makes sense, right? From a, from a bottom line standpoint, but also from a CapEx standpoint. Uh, so through that, it adds its own unique supply chain.
[00:37:27] Questions, and maybe by the way, the simplest one from supply chain standpoint, then you take message set, which is a totally opposite state, uh, where you have over 300 dispensaries, but you can have only three dispensaries, right? As a, as an nso. So, hey, you’re 1% of the market from a dispensary standpoint.
[00:37:47] Uh, yet, hey, if there’s 300 dispensaries, there’s a. High, uh, potential for wholesale, um, which from a supply chain standpoint, you need to be thinking completely differently in your own [00:38:00] network where you need a good internalization, but at the same time, the breadth of products that correspond to what your customers want.
[00:38:07] Medical and rec. Uh, while at the same time we’re working on that, that wholesale priority. So each state, we could talk about Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Each state is unique from that standpoint. Um, and in some ways it’s easier than industries, like, like fashion, stuff like that where you need to buy products about nine months in advance.
[00:38:34] And, and uh, in here it’s not the case. You actually build products. That lead time is like four months for five months, right? Between the time that you make a decision, you cultivate to the time you see it in your stores or wholesale. Um, But it’s still four months, let’s say. So you, you got the time to be wrong on your forecast and what you see the business to be six months down the road.
[00:38:59] Does that, [00:39:00] is
[00:39:00] Bryan Fields: that as hard as it sounds or is it maybe a little simpler with experience? Right, because like, that sounds incredibly complex and I’m just wondering, just hearing that easy as sound is, is it as challenging as I’m kind of processing?
[00:39:13] David Goubert: Uh, I don’t think it’s easy. Because I think it’s, it’s, it’s, again, different by state.
[00:39:20] And on top of that, it’s still a young industry, which means that it’s, it’s not as, uh, predictable and as other industries. And we all know the swings from a price standpoint and stuff like that. So it’s not easy by any means. Um, yet at the same time, I think there’s also, um, um, Lack of processes and expertise in some of these aspects that can help make it easier.
[00:39:48] Bryan Fields: So slightly switching gears, I know we talked about the fact that, uh, in cannabis there was price discounts where they get stacked on top and coming from the luxury world that doesn’t really exist like that. So do you think [00:40:00] that’s based on the fact that the brands haven’t established the type of value to demand, the type of.
[00:40:04] Price point that currently exists. Yeah. And does air plan on, uh, pushing the envelope and kind of aligning a little luxury value with the product in the future?
[00:40:12] David Goubert: Yeah. Um, so you’re absolutely right. And I mean, you’re, you’re a marketer. You’re absolutely right. It’s, it’s, if you want to have any price power, you need to have brand equity.
[00:40:24] I mean, there’s maybe other ways to do it, but you need to have brand equity. Um, if you don’t have brand equity, your, your products is a commodity. If your product is a commodity, you’re not gonna have any price power. Um, so the reality today is that accept very limited number of brands, We’re in the business of commodities And so the only way for us to actually change that and, and we’re back to that point about that House of Brands focus is to build brands that have equity. And [00:41:00] today it’s not the case, uh, on that front. Coming in, I was, we have 11, I think 11 brands that are national brands and they’re more specific by form factors.
[00:41:11] We’ve got brands on flower brand of, of, uh, pre-roll and brand in, in edibles and vapes and so on. Uh, and the reaction of the team and myself as we’re digging through the strategy, we say there’s no way, no way we can build equity in 11 brands. And there’s no way. With an average of five or 6% market share in the markets we’re in mean 2% on the overall cannabis.
[00:41:37] And let’s say that in the states we’re in, there’s no way we can divide marketing investments to create awareness on 11 brands. It’s not gonna work. So we need to actually think differently. We need to have that good, better, best, which in your way, in a way, Brian is answering question on luxury, but it’s.
[00:41:55] We need to have that good, better, best from a strategic standpoint on brands we [00:42:00] need to rationalize to, to way less brands so that we can actually invest and, and make them more visible, uh, for our, our patients and customers. And, uh, at the same time, a big question has been a brand need to accompany someone in their cannabis journey.
[00:42:21] And if I’m a cannabis, Uh, patient, customer that actually use flour, pre-roll, vapes, edibles, drinks at different moment in my, in my life. Then I should be able to have a brand that’s offering that to me as well, where I can recognize the brand, identify with a brand, and, and in the different moments, and in that sense being debate.
[00:42:44] I don’t think there’s a right or wrong, but in that sense we’re making a clear decision to say that we want brands that will actually be across. Most, if not all categories, because it’s about aligning a brand with a customer and with having a story. It’s not [00:43:00] about one form factor or one category. Um, Nobody’s surprised that Louis Vuitton, who’s a maltier that was doing handbags.
[00:43:09] If you were to go to a store in the shoes where, I don’t know, another brand, it would be like, why, why, why do they change brand like I want Louis Vuitton, right. Um, we need to get to the same place mean our key brand is kind. You should have kind, flour, kind, preroll, kind, vape kind, edibles. I’m giving you stuff that are not launched yet, by the way.
[00:43:31] But, um, that’s the core, that’s the core of what we, what we need to create. So long answer, Brian, but that’s, uh, that’s how we’re thinking about the power of brands which give the power of price. Uh, if we’re in a commodity market, it’s commodity price.
[00:43:49] Bryan Fields: The one challenge that I’ll push back on you is that in each state there’s different marketing regulations, so you can’t even display the product the same way.
[00:43:56] So for example, if I buy a product in one state and I’m like, [00:44:00] cool, this is the kind product that I like, and then I go to Florida, I’m like, where’s product? I mean, that’s an extra layer of challenge that you currently have to operate in to convince a customer, Hey, same, same, but different.
[00:44:10] David Goubert: Yeah, yeah, no, totally.
[00:44:11] So first step is making sure that even the name of the brand is allowed in the state that we’re in, right? Which we had that issue with some of the brands. So as we’re thinking about rebuilding the brand, the first question is like, Hey, let’s make sure we pick names that actually, uh, we can use everywhere.
[00:44:27] And then you’re right, in Florida, it’s all white everywhere, but you can still merch, have some merch, not products, but merch in the stores or your, your website and so on. Uh, but to your point, man, from a marketing asset, And how you think about it. It’s, it differs state by state. Um, so it’s an interesting balance actually in every function of what’s corporate support, or, I like to say support not corporate by the way, what’s support nationally versus what needs to be in [00:45:00] each, uh, market, each business unit.
[00:45:04] Easier said than done. Yeah. Well, yes. Uh, and, and, and it seems to us that the right balance right now is giving a lot of, uh, uh, power and autonomy by market, but having the expertise, so from a revenue standpoint, p and l standpoint, um, even launch of products standpoint and so on. Combining retail and wholesale together, by the way, which we don’t want to consider as different responsibilities.
[00:45:35] Um, and make sure that from a national standpoint, we bring that expertise that comes usually maybe from a different industry, obviously, except for the functions that are super close to, to the, uh, cultivation and process, um, that, that can support those regional teams, you know, on the day-to-day with a national expertise.
[00:45:57] But most likely, [00:46:00] uh, a, a decision power much more in the markets than than central.
[00:46:06] Bryan Fields: Continuing on the conversation, uh, you got announcement with the US Cannabis Council. I would love for you to share that with our listeners.
[00:46:11] David Goubert: Yeah. Uh, so, so we just announced that, meaning that, uh, we’re, we’re now, um, part of the US Cannabis Council, um, for us, I’m gonna take again, the example of coming from the luxury.
[00:46:29] when you’re LVMH and Kering and, Richemont and Chanel, you’re not that much competing. Of course, you love competing against each other, but you’re not that much competing about against each other. What matters for the luxury world is you’re gonna grow if you open up more people into, the luxury world and understand the value of luxury.
[00:46:52] And yeah, you’re gonna want to have market share from the others, but it’s about growing the pie more than increasing your [00:47:00] size in the pie. Um, did I lose you guys or we’re We’re still good. We’re okay. Cool. All right. Uh, and, and we’re thinking about cannabis the same way. It’s a young industry. It’s different players.
[00:47:20] It’s, And, we need to make efforts together to actually combine our efforts to be heard. I believe it’s true from a being known and appreciated by more, potential customers. Even though that was a surprise to me to see how much it’s actually something that’s already the case today where we’re saying, I think it’s 70% are, either consumers or thinking about it in the next six months.
[00:47:54] so it’s true from a customer standpoint. It’s also true from an overall. [00:48:00] Political standpoint and regulation standpoint. And the more we’re gonna be able to bring the, players together and the more we’re gonna be able to, actually move faster, on things. And that’s why we, chose to join the, US Cannabis Council and, that’s why.
[00:48:20] we’re, thinking about where are the efforts that we want to be part of? Meaning everybody’s asking about Florida and what we’re doing in Florida to support there and, everywhere, meaning how we supporting these efforts. If I take Florida, cuz obviously that’s the question. Kim and Tru have been driving the efforts and, putting a really significant amount of money that’s serving everyone, to, actually get to a place where it is adult use.
[00:48:50] where. We’re gonna be thinking in next steps, how do we help, right? obviously each company is different and we’re not in a position that we could have done [00:49:00] what, truly did, absolutely not. But it’s on us to figure out how do we help? And again, the best way to help is actually to be pla, to be really, connecting the dots together between the
[00:49:10] Bryan Fields: players.
[00:49:13] When you got started in the cannabis journey, what did you get? Right? And most importantly, what shocked you or surprised you?
[00:49:20] David Goubert: Um, What surprised me most, but also encouraged me most, uh, was what I shared about before, which is the passion. Really the passion, and I would say courage with it of the people in the industry.
[00:49:38] And it goes beyond air. It, it’s, it’s the industry. Uh, that’s really what, what was the, the biggest wow and surprise? Um, the. All the moments where I felt that way as well and, and, and really proud of being part of, of the industry and the company was, for [00:50:00] example, the expungement events that we’re doing where we’re helping people, uh, getting their, uh, criminal recurrence, uh, expunged and, and, and those kind of moments where we feel like, Hey, we’re really doing something that, that’s extremely helpful.
[00:50:13] Um, so that was. Great surprise, I would say, and, and, and things that, that, uh, were, were wow coming in. Um, surprise, good surprise from a business standpoint, I would say was understanding the level of where we are from a cultivation capacity and cion quality and so on standpoint. So recognizing all the work that’s been done on, on that front.
[00:50:39] And I would say a third on the very positive things was. I didn’t expect that being a company that’s, the conglomerate of 18 different small companies that were put together, I expected to be like, wow, to get numbers and understanding the business is gonna take forever. And the platform that was built by [00:51:00] the finance team, tech team on making sure that everybody’s running with the same platform, that, I mean we are at a level of data that.
[00:51:12] is as good as what I had at Neiman in 115 year old company, and that was extremely surprising in a super good way. The surprises or things were like, whoa, not as excited. the level of promotions and discounting that’s happening, the lack of equity in the brands. And what we need to build from that standpoint.
[00:51:41] Were, some of the, things that were, surprised? Um, don’t know if I answer, but that’s, that’s some of the things that, that were, uh, moments
[00:51:54] Bryan Fields: coming in. We’re sitting here five years from now, what have you accomplished?[00:52:00]
[00:52:03] David Goubert: Uh, made it through so. Very important for me is making it true to our promise of being a force for good, which means that the company is truly accompanying our patients and customers, supporting our teams, supporting the communities, and supporting on, um, writing the wrong, uh, and on, on the war on drugs, and having to do that we need to be in a healthy.
[00:52:38] Company in a healthy situation to do that. So to do that five years from now, uh, we’re obviously in a great balance sheet position, but we’ve really made it true to what I was sharing about we are the retailer of choice. Meaning that we have a loyal customer base that’s really loyal to air and we’ve [00:53:00] built, let’s say three brands that, uh, mean something.
[00:53:07] In the industry. Um, that’s what, five years is long time. And I think that we’re in dog years here, so five years feels like forever. Uh, but let’s say three years from now, that’s where I want us to be.
[00:53:21] Bryan Fields: Five years is like a full career. For sure. For sure. Before we do predictions, we ask all of our guests, if you could sum up your experience in a main takeaway or lesson learned to pass onto the next generation, what would it be?
[00:53:36] In this experience or in, in your professional experience if you could pass on one life lesson Yeah. To,
[00:53:43] David Goubert: so, um, I’m gonna share, let’s say three. Uh, the first one is don’t be afraid to change, meaning that, Um, [00:54:00] I’ve been in, in a place at some point where I stood probably too long in a position or in a place.
[00:54:05] And you need to stay long enough that you’re learning, that you’re making a difference. Making an impact. But don’t be afraid to change. Don’t be afraid to move into something uncomfortable that’s gonna help you grow. That’s the, the, I’d say the number one thing. Uh, the second thing is don’t get comfortable and actually take decision fast.
[00:54:27] Okay. You need to take the time to think through things, but don’t hesitate to take decisions fast enough and, and, and listen to your guts and people around to make these decisions. Um, I’ve never been like getting a lot of feedback and, and, and things from my teams. I, I, I, I don’t think at any time it has been about, well, we’re going too fast or we’re, why It’s been at some point more about why didn’t we do that six months ago?
[00:54:54] Uh, so. And, and I’m taking that as a, as really in a learning from [00:55:00] before for this experience for me, and trying to actually take decisions and go fast. That’s the second thing. And then the third thing that I try to stay true to, and that to me is, is key, is loyalty. Um, I’m, I care about my teams and, and, and, and I care about people around me more than anything else.
[00:55:23] And the great thing about that is that that means that you get that back from others as well. Um, and standing today in a company where there’s great talent that is here because we’ve had other experience at other moments with me or others, and, and that’s how you can build that. So don’t be afraid to change.
[00:55:43] Go fast and be loyal. Beautiful.
[00:55:47] Bryan Fields: All right. Prediction time, David. As the cannabis industry continues to mature, what developments do you foresee in optimizing the consumer journey and applying your luxury background to [00:56:00] build strong customer loyalty? How does air wellness plan to stay at the forefront of understanding and meeting consumer needs?
[00:56:07] David Goubert: Wow. Uh, to me that, that the, the key thing goes back to. Building those relationships and building that loyalty. Everything, evolves in my opinion, at least on the retail side on that. And the main changes, the main’s evolution, the main way we need to think about it is very much about how do you build relationship.
[00:56:41] so yeah, that, to me is gonna be core to the changes and, core to how we’re thinking about. About the changes and that answer to your second point at the same time about what will be different, what will be different, should answer to that from a product standpoint, from a tech standpoint, from [00:57:00] a environment standpoint, and everything else going.
[00:57:06] Kellan Finney: Uh, I’m gonna say consistency, right? I think product consistency, especially operating in all these different states, right? Um, I think that’s gonna create loyalty and that’s just gonna feed into everything you just mentioned, David, right? Yeah. So product consistency is, I think, key to, to all of those things
[00:57:23] Bryan Fields: as well.
[00:57:23] What do you think, Brian? I think brand power is, is earned right uhhuh and can command a type of value just given the, the name and the integrity behind it. And I can’t see anything more than the brands you’ve worked with David, because my wife talks about these concepts and I’m just, I honest, disgusted by the price point, but it commands that value just based on the brand.
[00:57:45] Hundred percent. And in Canada, we’re all fighting to figure out like, Which products and all we’re talking about is, is burn through, right? Like how quickly can we turn over these products and eventually we’ll stabilize and have economies of scale. Yeah. And a national footprint and people will [00:58:00] be able to put those positions in front where you walk in, you can command that.
[00:58:03] 60, 70, $80 for an eighth here in New York, probably like 400 because terrible with our, we figured out. And it’s just a matter of building the infrastructure and understanding that the footprint today is also not the footprint for the future. So having someone like yourself, David, at the helm is probably exciting, but also challenging knowing that the tides will change.
[00:58:23] You just need to fight through the water. So, uh, give you,
[00:58:27] David Goubert: yeah. Hey, you know what I love about our answers is that I went into, Customer loyalty, which is one of the three assets. Kellen, you went into consistency of products, which to me is quality. And Brian, you went into brand power, which is the third asset.
[00:58:45] So the three of us have actually just talked about the three assets. That is what we as a company, Um, are a hundred percent focused on. So I, I love it. We all
[00:58:55] Bryan Fields: see the North Star. Yay. So David, for our listeners, [00:59:00] they wanna get in touch, they wanna buy air products. Where can they find you?
[00:59:04] David Goubert: Uh, they can find me on, uh, on Twitter.
[00:59:06] They can find me on LinkedIn. They can find me on, uh, reaching out to us on, uh, at, at uh, air Wellness.
[00:59:13] Bryan Fields: Awesome. We’ll link it up on the shots. Thanks so much for taking time. This was a lot of fun.
[00:59:16] David Goubert: Thank you so much.