Editor’s Note: This interview was originally published on the Cannabis Chronicles website:
Answers from James Hull
Why is your company named Fairwinds Manufacturing?
Fairwinds, as you probably know, is a nautical term with special meaning: Have a safe journey, good fortune, and may the wind and sea be at your back. One would wish another “Fairwinds and a following sea” as they embarked on a voyage.
I didn’t want an in your face cannabis term for our business. To us, it’s more about the journey and the products we’re building.
Legalization of cannabis represents a sea change and we’re just in the initial stages.
The journey into the medical realm is possibly the most exciting possibility and one I look forward to being able to openly discuss. I would love to have the opportunity to help people.
My family has been involved in the building and enjoying of boats for three generations on my Father’s side (i.e. the name HULL).
I started working in a boat yard when I was 12 and have worked as a professional engineer in the marine industry for 18 years.
I am a mechanical engineer and have spent the last 10+ years designing and building advanced unmanned and special forces boats for the U.S. Navy. My position focused on the development and integration of new and advanced technologies in the most advanced and specialized crafts in the world.
Prior to starting my career in the marine industry, I worked at my family’s nursery in my coastal hometown of Ipswich, Massachusetts.
My mother’s side of the family has owned this nursery/greenhouse for four generations and a large majority of my family still works in the family business.
When I was young, I would spend as many days I could tending to the plants (watering, transplanting, cleaning, trimming). I loved being around plants and in the growing environment and learned I had a “green thumb” at a very young age.
For many years now, I have been a self-taught horticulturist (no formal degree), and have looked for an opportunity tie my education, skill sets and passion for technology and horticulture together.
The I-502 opportunity:
I, of course, jumped at the opportunity to build and own a business that ties everything I have learned together.
The idea that I could design and build a legal cannabis cultivation and processing facility with state of the art and unrivaled technology blew my mind and really got my Type A blood pumping.
This was my opportunity to integrate advanced, cutting edge technology with an industry that is incredibly under developed, low tech, fragmented and in the infancy of product development, technology and quality standards.
Even today, so many “commercial and legal” cultivation businesses that are being built are scaled up versions of the garage and backyard grow. That model just isn’t the future of this industry or a business model that will likely survive.
We aimed to take this industry to another level in all areas and that is what we’re focused on at Fairwinds.
The micro-brew, boutique coffee roaster and the winery approach:
Although we speak to the immense value of technology integration in this industry, we cannot forget the criticality of staying in touch with the organic side of this business and continued connection to this amazing plant.
This is an industry full of us passionate cannabis lovers who see and feel the personality of so many amazing strains and phenotypes.
There are so many whose lives been significantly improved by forming a relationship with cannabis. This is where art and love meets technology, and this is where it gets fun and amazing opportunities emerge.
We can’t let technology turn this industry cold and calculating. We need balance and we must keep the passion and relationship with the plant as a priority.
This is a significant focus of Fairwinds, and again, this is what makes this industry so fun and exciting – producing a product and seeing the excitement and appreciation in a customer’s eyes is unbelievably rewarding. And we are just beginning.
Fairwinds Manufacturing approach to market:
As we developed and built our team, we searched for elite, specialized employees with science based educations and backgrounds. We sought out specialists and consultants that have years of experience in this industry, are passionate about what they do and that understand what it takes to be an industry leader.
We wanted to provide advanced, unique and high quality products with strong branding and consumer demand out of the gate. Like most industries, there is very little room at the top, and only a small percentage of companies will build long term sustainable and successful models.
We saw the glut in flower production coming early and created our business plan to focus on advanced infused products with a strong focus on retail and consumer education.
We do not currently market flowers to our retail partners as there is an over abundance of companies that only have this to offer.
For the overall success of the industry, it makes sense to work together. We use trimmed flower in our extractions to provide to very best quality oils and concentrates, where many other companies are using B or C grade trim for production of products.
Fairwinds does not have visions of distribution to every retail shop in the state. We aim to expand within the limits of quality production and supply.
We are not willing to expand to the point that quality in any arena is sacrificed.
We seek key retailers in each region of the state that represent this industry, its products and the customer the best.
We also want to avoid price wars with our products among retailers in the same consumer market, as this is a losing formula for all.
Important to us is a retailer with solid management, friendly staff, inviting atmosphere, and a strong team of bud tenders that focus on consumer education and customer service.
The consumer is hungry for knowledge and it is very difficult to weave through the inaccuracies and false assumptions and beliefs that plague this industry.
We do our part to educate as much as we can.
For example, we provide product information sheets that help the consumer better educate the consumer about how each item is produced, what the contents are, what the proper dosage is and what the effects are.
We also hold educational seminars at our facility for select retailers.
This is the perfect opportunity to teach budtenders the “ins and outs” of our products. This type of information and approach is very well received and ultimately it makes all of us within this industry better.