Each month we feature a selection of our Co-op Members and Supporters. They live the Co-op’s mission and demonstrate the innovative nature of the independent entrepreneurs that make up BC’s highly skilled craft cannabis sector.
South of the border, Americans have just sections of the iconic Route 66 left. In Canada, we have Route 1 – the TransCanada Highway – a ribbon of blacktop that links us, without ever touching the US border, from St John’s, Newfoundland to Victoria, BC. With roots in 4 provinces: Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and BC, the company name Route 1 is a tip of the hat to the Canadian road trip the founders know so well.
A decade ago, Chris Hart was making a living recruiting personnel for the hospitality and tourism field. His first foray as his own boss was a sideways move from recruiting workers for the hospitality/tourism sector to recruiting workers for the cannabis industry. In 2019 Chris attended the LIFT & Co. Expo in Toronto, where he met several growers who were passionate about their product but struggling with how to combine farming with processing and marketing. Chris could see that growers of high-quality cannabis could use the same representation to retailers that his business partner and friend, Tim LeGrandeur was providing for wineries and distilleries from all over the world. Chris and Tim founded Route 1 Agency, a cannabis sales agency based in Western Canada that is focused on helping craft growers and producers.
Building the cannabis highway. Want a lift? Yup. Sure do.
Marketing cannabis is complex. Regulations aside, the trick to conveying to a retailer why your cannabis is awesome (and not just regulation compliant) is to make sure they understand the growing environment and story of the producer. That takes a boots-on-the-ground approach – going to the retailers and communicating in-person about what is special about this varietal, that micro-climate, those techniques, and that craftsmanship. Educational videos are another component of the toolkit Route 1 Agency puts to use to help connect producer through the processor, retailer, and finally the consumer.
Route 1 now has 5 sales representatives across Western Canada in addition to Tim and Chris. They’re highly trained through courses from Cannareps as well as through the knowledge the principals of the company, Tim and Chris, can impart in-house. For sales agents, a thorough understanding of the regulations and bureaucracy that is particular to each province in Canada is also critical.
For small producers, Route 1 will provide a get-to-market or grow-in-market strategy that will help them navigate through provincial red tape while generating sales where possible.
The challenges of marketing cannabis are real, but so is the satisfaction that comes with every small success and every new connection with like-minded people. It’s a trip Tim and Chris enjoy immensely, especially as they meet more producers on – and often way off – Route 1 in BC.