business

Business Partner Spotlight: Cannabis Consulting Nationwide

Grant Taylor 18 Jan 2019

How does one go from being a car salesman to retail cannabis king and national consultant? Rob Hendrix of Cannabis Central of Ellensburg and Cannabis Consulting Nationwide (CCN), an accomplished businessman with decades of retail experience, has done just that. After moving with his family to Washington state in 1962, Hendrix spent 29 years in the auto sales industry. During this time, he created a home, built a family, and established himself in beautiful Ellensburg, Washington.

Bored of the auto industry and looking for a new challenge, Hendrix was intrigued when his wife of 39 years, Diane, began working with two entrepreneurs, brothers who were opening up a huge warehouse for cannabis cultivation and retail. They had recommended a move to the retail cannabis industry to Diane, and even though he thought it was a bad idea, and he also suspected she was crazy, Hendrix applied for a license at the last minute.

On December 19, 2013, Hendrix threw his name in the ring and ended up with a I-502 Legal Cannabis store, which opened on August 25, 2014. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board granted him the 38th retail license in the state of Washington, and he was the 23rd store to report sales – not too shabby for a “bad idea.”

After a few weeks of his new store being open, people started to shun him based on his new occupation. They asked him to leave all his clubs, to stop coaching the local kids, and the local radio DJs even mocked him on the first day CCE opened for business.

The City of Ellensburg claimed to welcome the industry, and Hendrix opened up his store as the Ellensburg Apothecary. Within six weeks though, an official from the Department of Health sent him a letter explaining that he needed to remove the word “apothecary” from his name due to the fact that “cannabis had no proven medical benefits recognized by the state of Washington.” He attempted to argue the point, but the local Sargeant called him and gave him seven days to change name or get shut down; so he switched the name to Cannabis Central of Ellensburg (CCE).

On top of this small hiccup, Hendrix explains, he had been the coach for his kids’ sports teams, and leader in his local town – “Mr. Ellensburg.” After a few weeks of his new store being open, people started to shun him based on his new occupation. They asked him to leave all his clubs, to stop coaching the local kids, and the local radio DJs even mocked him on the first day CCE opened for business.

The first six months, he says, were a disaster. CCE had been open for over a year before finally breaking even in 2015. Despite the slow start and paranoia that he had failed, Hendrix dug in by working with local agencies, the police, politicians, M.A.D.D., and more. That’s the kind of experience that CCN draws on for assisting others, including building relationships and dealing with challenges and successes in a rapidly changing environment.

Part of a healthy business, says Hendrix, is staying in good graces with the community, including the local inspectors and law enforcement.

By the end of 2015, another store had opened in Kittitas county, then another in 2016; Today, there are six stores in the county, and three in Ellensburg alone. His is the only one that has never gotten an operating violation, which he touts as one of his greatest accomplishments as a consultant. Part of a healthy business, says Hendrix, is staying in good graces with the community, including the local inspectors and law enforcement.

Hendrix has personally conducted over 500,000 transactions, hired – and at times had to fire – his own employees, and has been sole owner, investor, and operator of the business since it opened. He recently spoke as a panelist at O’Cannabiz, a cannabis business conference in Vancouver. Hendrix consults for all kinds of retail businesses, from mom-and-pop CBD farmers market carts to giant THC conglomerates. He also has experience speaking to legislative bodies about implementing safe, effective “adult use” retail markets. Using his “PhD in retail Cannabis earned from the School of Hard Knocks,” Hendrix is working with people around the country to strengthen and build their businesses.

Hendrix fully agrees with the strict ruling around the marketing and availability of cannabis products. He’s adamant that he doesn’t want to see kids getting high, or people driving under the influence. He feels that keeping a high standard for distribution safety will be better for the long run.

Hendrix says he is well aware of the many, many “charlatans and snake oil sellers” out there. These are people, he says, looking to earn your trust and get your money by claiming to know something you don’t. He is determined to weed these people out so that his clients never have to encounter them. Hendrix says he feels personally responsible for helping to create a safe, economical, effective market that serves all people equitably.

Being the second state to legalize cannabis for adult use, officials in Washington put a virtual straightjacket on the original businesses – which continues to exist to this day. Hendrix fully agrees with the strict ruling around the marketing and availability of cannabis products. He’s adamant that he doesn’t want to see kids getting high, or people driving under the influence. He feels that keeping a high standard for distribution safety will be better for the long run.

Totally immersed for almost five years now, CCN can offer assistance navigating entry into the retail cannabis market. Starting a business can be a tricky matter, and with the stigma around retail cannabis, there can be other pressures to contend with. Hendrix encourages helping out in the community, and maintaining a consistent voice as a business. He says he has successfully helped change public opinion one person at a time, and has had success changing minds using non confrontational methods. Due to his time in the industry, Hendrix says he can effectively relieve fears and negative perception about the cannabis market and retail distribution.

Cannabis Consulting Nationwide is partnering with Heady Vermont to increase its marketing range further around the country. Rob has also guaranteed every Heady Vermont card carrying member a free 1 hour long consultation phone call! If you find yourself in Washington State, Cannabis Central of Ellensburg can be found at 1514 W University Way, in Ellensburg. Give Rob a phone call at (509) 833-5556 (cell) or (509) 201-1144 (office), and stop in for a visit. CCE and Cannabis Consulting Nationwide are on Facebook and Instagram too.

Next up for CCN is presenting at another cannabis trade show in Mexico in 2019. Beyond that, he’s planning on offering his skills to help with nationwide consulting on all scales. He is also planning on offering a Monthly Membership style of consulting; he will provide skype support, site visits, and year-round personal attention to his clients. It looks like it will be a long road ahead for both CCN and CCE!

As a Heady Vermont business partner, Rob is also offering a special deal for HVT Members: Your first hour long phone call consultation is free!

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