Photo Credit: MARC SCHWARZ
Faye Coleman knows the importance of a good blueprint.
An engineering degree, MBA and a career in operations, however, did not completely prepare her to be a cannabis entrepreneur.
To create a business in an industry that is still in its infancy and because of the vagaries of the laws from state to state, the blueprint for success doesn’t necessarily exist.
“I scratched my head when I first got into it – the more I dug in I determined that I needed to come up with the blueprint for myself,” say Coleman, the chief executive officer of PG Health, LLC.
That blueprint includes a female- and minority-led team that will pursue cultivating and manufacturing licenses in the next round of applications for medical marijuana facilities.
PG Health, based in Cherry Hill, had initially considered applying for one of the six Alternative Treatment Center licenses that were awarded in December, but decided at the end to hold off.
That doesn’t mean Coleman is just waiting for the next RFA to be announced.
As she did in the run-up to the ATC application deadline, Coleman has continued to prepare. That means building a full vertical supply chain team – “we have leaders in all aspects of business. We feel from a management and leadership standpoint, we’re sustainable. From a subject matter expertise, we’re sustainable” – to meeting with municipal and community officials and leaders to cement relationships and bringing more investors and capital on board.
The PG in PG Health is short for Pure Genesis. Coleman explains the meaning, “Arguably one of the first plants that humans planted was the hemp plant around 8000 BC. It is also the plant that can medically benefit people in its purest form. You don’t need to alter it to obtain the benefits from it.”
Her focus now is on the future and the role PG Health can play in helping patients, the community and those she intends to hire at the company.
“We want to be the health care provider of choice. We want to bring forward medical products that improve the patient’s life, we want to do research,” she says. “We want to be an employer of choice. We want to hire those who have been incarcerated for minor drug possession. That’s important for us. We want a workplace culture that is inclusive. We also want to provide a living wage. That’s important for us. And, we want to be a community partner of choice. We will start by giving back through profit sharing. We will also educate our youth to combat drug misuse and incarceration. In the end we are socialpreneurs, as we look to not only make a profit but a difference.”
Coleman is aware of the difficulty of getting her foot in the door in this nascent industry and the obstacles that need to be hurdled.
“I understand the dynamics that even though you may be the best business, you may not be the one selected.”
She also sees the potential.
“Look at this business. One thing that is clear is there is generational wealth to be had,” Coleman says. “That is another part of the reason I’m doing this. I have two children in college.”
The need for deep pockets as a cost of entry is seen as a barrier to entrepreneurs – especially those of color. Costs pre-license can be upwards of $200,000 and post-license from $1 to $10 million.
“The conversation has been we can’t bring to bear the resources needed to succeed in this industry. That has been a constant conversation,” she says. “It’s a false premise – because I’m proof. I have the team, the real estate, the money. We only need the opportunity.
“Coming out of corporate America – I’ve always been on the operations side of general management of the business. I’ve never had to open myself up to who I am nor to sell myself as to what I can bring to the table. In terms of adding value, that has been a large part of my success and now I must again establish that as a strength in this industry.
“People need to know who you are, what your team represents, what you bring to the table and that is a constant.”
For Coleman, who opened more than 50 Target and CVS stores, the possibility of starting her own business from the ground up is both nerve-wracking and fulfilling because she knows what’s at stake.
She leans on words passed on to her.
“My mother who is my shero taught me to always put faith family and friendship first, and right now PG Health is stepping out on faith, family and friendship.”