Cannabis is an industry most people ignore, and therefore they miss all the fun and benefits it has to offer. Matt Gillard saw the opportunity to grow commercial cannabis ever since he was young, though his dream did not start in the most legal way. As he sits down with Tony Frischknecht, he shares the interesting story of how he left his illegal smuggling ways in favor of starting a legal cannabis greenhouse to grow the plant for legal purposes in the form of Jamaco, LLC. He details how he has surpassed his brother in terms of business growth, how the people around him gave him the best pieces of advice, and his plans for his company’s future.
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From The Closet To The Greenhouse Part 1 Of 2 With Matt Gillard
How Matt Gillard Built His Commercial Cannabis Grow With Nothing
We’re going to bring back a former guest. We’re going to discuss what it has taken for him to get to where he’s at and the challenges that he’s had to overcome. I’ve got Matt Gillard from Jamaco, LLC with me. Matt, how are you doing?
I’m doing good, Tony. Thank you for having me.
You’re welcome. I’m excited about the show because your story takes me back to many of the gentlemen that I knew that were starting in the grow industry way back a long time ago, along with myself in some of the early days back in 2005. You’re a bit older than me in the grow world. I appreciate seeing that. I know there are some growers out there that would scoff at us because they’ve been growing for 40 or 50 years and they’re like, “These guys don’t know anything.” I want to give a shout-out to those old school guys that had started this back many years ago. They’ve got some amazing genetics that they’ve passed on to their family and the kids that they’ve brought up. With that, Matt, share with people a bit about who you are and we’ll go into a bit more of your story.
My name is Matt Gillard. I live in Northeast Massachusetts in Amesbury, born and raised in the town that I’m living in. We have 12,500 square feet of canopy that we’re hoping to start. We bought a Nexus 420 Hybrid Greenhouse and we’re hoping to bring that online in the Massachusetts market as soon as possible. All state and local provisions say yes. We’re waiting to get on the state’s agenda and get our final vote.
That’s huge especially for most of the people that are trying to like, “How can I start this?” This is where you’re at. Let’s go back.
It’s crazy to get where I am. I graduated from high school in 2000. In high school, we were using cannabis a bit, paying high prices for it and not getting a good product at all. We started experimenting around a little bit and starting to grow some stuff. Early stories, junior high school, my buddy’s father left his staging up on the roof of his house. He didn’t finish the roof on the project. We thought that got the best sun in the world. We decided to take that, climb out his window and we grew a dozen plants on top of the roof. That worked great at first.
Was this in Massachusetts?
This was in Massachusetts, 1997, 1998.
How scary were times back then when you guys were like, “We’re going to grow a plant?” What was going on in Massachusetts at that time?
It was decriminalized but you were still getting in trouble and arrested for it. A lot of people were trying to grow in buckets up in trees, the flyovers and not camp here, the DEA were raiding places and looking around. My buddy had the staging on top of his roof, it was his father’s staging. He figured he got the best sun in the world and his dad was too lazy. He was never going to go back up there and finish the roof. We started a couple of plants in his closet and the next thing you know, we had 6 or 8 plants out on the roof of his house and gallon buckets. They were doing good. They were 18 inches tall. As soon as they got tall enough that you could see at the peak of the roof, my friend’s father pulled home for the day and found them. He climbed up onto the roof, threw all the plants away and kicked the shit out of us.
He knew exactly what they were when he saw them.
He said, “What the hell are these plants doing on top of my roof?”
You got this idea, “We want to grow some plant.” Did you smoke much before then or no?
Starting freshman year of high school. We were more growing it because we didn’t have access to it. The access that we had was the Mexican Cartel weed that was low quality. The allure of doing something that you were told not to do set us off on that path. At that time, we were hippie kids. A lot of my friends were torn with fish. We understood the scene a bit for sure.
Some of that card back then when you’re talking Mexican cannabis, what did it look like?
Straight brick weed.
I’ve seen stuff that looked almost like an alfalfa brick-ish looking.
It looks like a regular masonry brick that you could break off. The more you broke it up, the more it became fluffed up. It was amazing. In ‘99, I went down to Panama and I got some Panamanian brick weed from down there. It was from Columbia. That guy told me, “Don’t get caught with this. You’re going to go to jail. It’s going to be bad.” It was the size of a bouillon cube. It looked like a super bouillon cube. I started breaking this thing up thinking that I wasn’t going to get a joint out of it. There were 100 seeds in there to my surprise.
How did you even come across this gentleman?
We were on a Surf Safari. We were at the surf camp. A bunch of surfers hanging out and cannabis does run in the surf community deep. That’s where that happened there.
You met him through a few connections and all of a sudden, you’re buying some Panamanian cannabis from some guy down there. I hear stories about it but I’ve never run across it, so I’m curious.
It looked like a bouillon cube. He took a big knife, cut a long sliver off of his big brick and then cut that into four bouillon cube sizes and said, “Don’t get caught with it.”
You’re graduating high school or you were still in high school at this time?
That was before I graduated. I graduated in 2000. I wasn’t looking for a college. I didn’t know what to do. I was good in the trades, good with my hands and good at building. I hopped in my car and I always heard about the Emerald Triangle or Humboldt County from the old guys.
The old guys that were the surfers or people that you were around in the scene or what?
More of the old surfers. NorCal and Humboldt have a good surfing community. It was more of my surfing buddies that have been out there and said, “This is the place where all the gangs happen in the US.” I said, “Let’s go out there.” I hopped in my car, drove out there, I spent a year out there, got on a landscape crew planting and doing new landscapes. At that time, there was one little grow store in town.
Were you in Mendocino County? Where were you at exactly?
I was in Humboldt County and I was living in Trinidad. Trinidad had a population of 315 and had the one landscape company in town. I got onto their crew as a brick mason knowing East Coast brick stuff. They said, “Come work for us and do our brick patios.”
We’re talking about a town that might have a gas station, a liquor store and a small little grocery store type thing.
I’m 20 or 21, my boss at the time was 40 or 45. They’re telling me these stories from the old days and how it used to be. Up in the hills, they used to have something they called Hillside Strangler because they grew it on the hillside. Every time you smoke it, you’d cough so much it would strangle you. We were cleaning out his shed one day, I was up in the attic and I found a bale of 2 or 3 pounds. I was like, “This is amazing. This is a huge amount.” I asked him for it and he said, “You don’t want that stuff. It’s trash. That’s my emergency pile. That’s going to sit there forever.”
Was he pissed off at all that you came across it?
Not at all. I was in-charge of cleaning the shop that day and the top shelf of the shop had his emergency duffel bag full.
You’ve got to know him well.
My foreman at that time, two weeks prior to me getting onto this crew, he got raided by the FBI or whoever. He got a phone call when he was at work saying, “Don’t come home.” They took everything out of the house, all his plants, everything and they left his bong sitting right on his coffee table. He got home that afternoon with a note on the door, his house ransacked and a bong sitting on his table. He was beat down and scared. In the whole year that I was there, he was going through prosecution hoping not to get sent to the big house. His story worked out well would go out to a bunch of probation. They have to pay fines. Never sorry for jail time. Gary gave me a bit of guidance there and I went down to the local hydroponic store. I picked up a 1,000-watt light and started growing it in my closet there.If you can get something to pass, you can sell it. Click To Tweet
He was going to teach you how to grow per se.
Two other people that were on the landscape crew were growers also. The style back then was a bit different than the style that we’re dealing with now. It’s closer to a style that we’re trying to get into where the federal limit is 99 plants. If you had over 100 plants, you went to federal jail. These guys would grow 98 plants and they’d all grow them so they’ll be 18 inches tall and be one cola. They grow these beautiful plants in 1-gallon pots that were ounce nuggets, each of them. It’s easy to harvest good flavor. It was a real blueberry flavor.
When you look at a plant, it’s hard to imagine one solid cola. How do they create something like that?
Flipping it early, taking all the branches off and not splitting it up at top. Not pinching it off so it branches out again.
You have no branches going out to the left or right, around 360. It’s one solid branch that’s heading up.
It would look like your arm or your forearm sticking up out of the ground there. You’d have a good nugget that would be hard to wrap your hand around it in one straight nice piece. Fast forward a bunch of years in Maine, medically we’re allowed 36 plants.
Personal use, you can do 36 plants?
In the medical industry. For medical, you were allowed to do 36 plants and no more than that. Those 36 plants in Maine are the biggest car-sized plants you’ve ever seen in your life.
They’re trying to maximize every square inch of that plant.
They’re not worried about numbers and in a different way. It depicts a growing style.
Isn’t that strange how regulations dictate how you’re growing your plant? There are many better ways to grow up besides growing these massive ones. All that the regulation has done is to create these massive plants instead of, “Wait. You can grow this much.” It’s interesting how that’s shaping the way we grow because it’s always been that way.
It’s tricky for me having this greenhouse and I’m going to have 10,000 square feet of canopy and I’m not held to plant numbers at all. I’m in cahoots with my brother and he’s growing his 36 up north. We’re trying to completely change our growing style to grow a plant every square feet rather than a plant every 8 or 10 square feet.
You’re learning how to be more efficient with what you have and capitalize on that. I know that was a hard thing to learn as I went into the legal market, the same thing. It’s like, “Since I can grow this any way I want now, what’s going to be the best way to do it?” Everybody has their own style and what they think is going to grow the best quality.
It’s growing in your environment too that what grows best in a mixed-light greenhouse in New England is going to grow different in Colorado and Northern California. You take a Northern California grower, you show them the humidity that we have here and they can’t handle it.
It’s nothing that they’ve ever had to deal with before.
In 2001, 2002, I’m in NorCal. I realized that I love the place. It’s beautiful. It’s too rainy for me and it’s too tight for me. The locals wouldn’t want to let me in. I made some good friends and connections but it was a closed thing. They always said, “You’re the East Coast kid.”
How long were you there?
Under a year, not that long at all. I’ve got a couple of crops off and then I ended up selling everything and moved up to Alaska for the following summer. Interesting with Alaska is I drove my ‘94 Ford Ranger from Boston to California, then from California up to Alaska. I went over the border in Alaska and we’ll go over the border into British Columbia. Me and my partner at that time were smoking all the weed we can. Try and get everything out that we had stacked for the last year out of Humboldt, out of the vehicle. We’re going to cross the border and we think the border is 100 miles away. It ends up being 10 miles away. We’re throwing weed out the windows.
How much weed are we talking about you are tossing out the window?
It may be 1/4 pound, a good amount. We get to the border. We were sticking stickers all over our vehicle for everywhere we stopped. We stopped at someplace in Idaho. We got Militia’s flag that we didn’t know. It was the Militia from Idaho. We stuck that on the side of our vehicle. As soon as the border guys saw that, they gave us a ration of shit. We finally got over the border. Everything’s good. We’re clean, having a good time.
When you say ration of shit, are they tearing your car apart? Are they looking in your gas tank? What are they trying to do?
They’re removing a lot of things from the car. We’re out of the vehicle. Everything inside the cab is out. I didn’t smoke cigarettes but I used to smoke a lot of joints. On the window, the rubber had some burn marks. They’re scratching at these cigarette burn marks that are joint burn marks and said, “What’s this? What’s that?” I had a knife on me and that became a thing. I didn’t declare a knife, I said, “I’m going to Canada, it’s a pocketknife.”
Were you standing next to them while you watched them tear this thing apart?
What’s going through your mind when they’re doing this like, “I hope we got everything out of there?”
We didn’t vacuum the car, so what’s going to go on was nerve-wracking. We get up to the Canadian side and they did the same thing again and then sent us on our way. We went up to Vancouver and spent a night in Vancouver. At that time in Downtown Vancouver, there were 1 or 2 coffee shops that you could smoke weed in. We went downtown and found these coffee shops. You couldn’t buy it in the coffee shop but they had a house bong and you could smoke there. There was the local guy that’s walking around that’s selling it to you inside the coffee shop. We rent a bong from there and have a smoke in the coffee shop in 2001, 2002.
They were renting bongs at the time. You pay them $5, $10 and you got a bong?
It was like a hookah bar. You paid for a place to sit and then you could pay for the different hookahs you wanted to smoke out of. The kids are walking around and sketchy saying, “You want to buy this, want to buy that?” We get a little dime bag or something off them and smoke that. I said to them, “I’m going up to Alaska. I need some weed for the summer. Where could I go?” They go, “Go around the corner and knock on the steel door.” We go to the block down the street, go around the corner and found the steel door, buzz the buzzer and it buzzes back. We go upstairs and I have no idea where I’m going. I’m bringing my girlfriend at the time with me, sketchy as it can be. We go up to the second floor and this guy goes, “What do you want?” I was like, “What do you mean?” He goes, “Do you want this?” He’s got 3 or 4 ounces in front of him and a pound sitting around.
Was he talking about different strains, what do you want or weights or all of it?
Different strains. It was my first real retail experience. It was nice. It was a leather couch. There was a desk. It was a professional setup. It was all clean and legit-feeling. At that time too he told us about a seed company that was around the corner that we’d go and get some seeds back. Our thought was we’d be bringing an ounce up there. If we can get some stuff to flower off quick in Alaska, we’ll do a crop in Alaska. I go to the seed company. They gave me this big binder and I’m flipping through all these seeds. I asked them, “What’s the fastest flowering, biggest bush you’ve got because I only got 3 or 4 months in Alaska?”
I ended up buying a twelve Mighty Mite strain. The only catch was the caveat they couldn’t give them to me right there. They had to ship them to me. I didn’t know my shipping address in Alaska yet so I had them shipped to my little brother back in Maine. I had them ship them back there and we get on our merry way and start driving up to Alaska. I get close to the border of Alaska. I know I got this 1 ounce, 1.5 ounce on me and I’m saying, “We’re going to get back over the border into the US and I’m going to smuggle drugs in there. What am I going to do?”
It’s not like you’re doing pounds but it’s still not fun doing anything like that when you’re crossing international borders.
We were in the early days. I’m still 20, 21, 22. My mountain bike is on the roof of my car. I take the mountain bike off, I take the tire off the mountain bike, I cut a hole in the tube of the mountain bike and I get all the weed inside the tube of the mountain bike. I patched that up. I have bleach sterilization. I have gloves on the whole thing. I washed the whole tire down, put the tire back on the bike, pump it back up, and put it back on the roof of the car thinking that it’s inside the tube. I’m going to be fine.
You’re smuggling an ounce of cannabis in your mountain bike to go back across the border to the US, is that it?If someone hates your dream that you just achieved, just tell them an even crazier dream you want to achieve next. Click To Tweet
Yes. I’m going to Alaska for the summer and I was a volunteer park ranger in Alaska. I was afraid that I’d never find bud up there. We get over the border. We find their place in Seward, Alaska. I’m living in the backcountry. It’s beautiful. I’m going to town once a week or so. Our ounce of weed and our one-hitter pipe that broke on us that we had, we’re rationing it off. Each person gets a hit or two a day. Halfway through the journey, at the end of July or so ended up meeting up with a local guy and the local Alaskans unbeknownst to me have claimed that they’ve got the best weed in the world. Some of them at the time had some good products that they were putting off. I ended up hooking up with that guy for a bit and having a good time with him.
Was he teaching you anything? Were you friends?
Friends, a good local connection. He was a grower there at the time. I was only going to town every two weeks. It was a limited interaction I had with him. That’s when the Alaskan Thunderfuck is a big thing they had and they were all singing about way back. Speed up a bit, summer’s over, I come back home, I get a job back around here doing the construction work, doing masonry work. My friends at the time are going to UMass Amherst and my older brother graduated from UMass Amherst.
My younger brother, when he was going out to see my older brother in ‘95 to ‘98 when was going to school at UMass, there was an early scene there with the Chem Dog crew and those guys, the East Coast Sour Diesel, and all that stuff. Our close friends started going there after my older brother graduated. My little brother is still running out there and seeing our close buddy. He ended up getting hooked up with his roommate and his roommate was from Canada.
His Canadian roommate stopped by and said, “Can you make a unit 1 pound disappear?” The next thing you know, he can make two disappear and made that disappear quick. Quickly after that, we have some associates that are running 49 pounds, 50 pounds every ten days or so to Canada or back. They were getting that for $110,000, so we’re getting it for $22 a pound. It was awesome. At that time, we can sell the Canadian Beasters. We were getting a good price for it.
The East Coast prices were always brought premium especially from what I remember when you’re sending stuff out from a West Coast to East Coast. That always brought some good numbers.
This cat used to go up to Niagara Falls in a rental car. A rental car would get loaded up, they give them back to him and he’d stop at 1/2 dozen colleges. By the time he got back to us right on the East Coast, right on the beach where I’m at. By the time he got back to us, he only had ten units left with him. Every stop that he made, he dropped off 10 or 20. He turned around ten days later and collect all the money and go back and keep doing that trip. I was playing around a bit dabbling with them but nothing serious like they were doing. They had the glove compartments full of cash and the bathtub full of weed. I was getting a little too much in that I couldn’t get caught. I ended up buying my house in 2004 at 24 or 23. That got me a bit more scared that I can’t lose a ship.
Did you buy it in Massachusetts?
In Massachusetts, the house that I still live in. The house that I grew up and all that good stuff. We’re walking down to the local pizza shop. Me and my three friends are passing a local cop on the beat, standing there, he’s talking to a rookie cop. He speaks up enough that we can hear him. He says, “Here comes the Canadian Cartel.” We all shit ourselves. We were like, “What do you mean? That’s not us. That’s that guy. We never did anything.”
How the hell do they even know you guys are alive?
They knew way too much about us. That scared everybody a bit. That put everybody back down to their holes a little bit better. At that time, my brother’s up in Maine. He starts his grow up there and he starts to produce fire. The real top-quality product. In 2009, he got his medical caregiver’s license. I got married for several years. I got married a bit before that. It was always a battle for me that I was doing Britney spray and trying to stay legit. I was hustling on the side trying to make some extra cash there. It supplemented my life nicely.
With the wife and the kids, things started slowing down some more. A lot of people looked at me crazy. In 2010, 2011 and said, “Why don’t I move up north with my brother and grow plants with him?” At the time, Maine still only allowed there 36 plants. You can make a living off it but you couldn’t make a great living off it. It was still a gray zone. I never took the full plunge. I was growing in my house at the time. I had a little basement grow. I had an outdoor grow a bit. We’re only talking 2,000-watt or 3,000-watt lights that have given me a couple of plants to buy sunglasses and stuff with. To get to where we are, in 2016, the vote passed in Massachusetts. I said to my brother, “We got twenty years of experience in this.”
This is your brother, Chris?
My younger brother, Chris, is a phenomenal grower. Granted that everybody that you meet that grows weed is the best grower in the world. None of them will tell you, “I grow okay weed.”
What do you tell those owners out there that are looking for growers? I need a good grower. What do I look for? What do you tell those guys out there? What would you say to them?
I would take somebody from the horticultural industry. I take somebody from the plant. Somebody that’s working in a nursery already because you can train a plant person how to grow gallons that already knows how to work in a commercial greenhouse. Taking a grower that has had minimal people contact so has poor people skills. A lot of these growers are small gardens. They’re stuck in the basement. They spent most of their life trying not to be found.
That breeds a person that isn’t the greatest in communication, isn’t the greatest in the organization and doesn’t know how to follow the laws because they’ve been following their laws and their rules, not the rules of the world. I’ve met 24-year-old growers that have told me, “The best I’ve met is 60-year-old growers that played music to their plants.” One of my friends has a Doctorate in Crop Science. She went to school with some Euro friends over at Kind Love. What they bring in their knowledge of plants and their knowledge of feeding is far grade within dealing with one plant.
This is a major one. I went through a lot of growing pains literally and figuratively. I’m big enough to say that I know I’m not the best grower, 100%. There are some amazing people out there. There are many talents out there. They’ve had to grow cannabis before. That is not the case. You can teach them. Looking at it that way can save much time. Some of them are good salesman too. They’re good and hyped about stuff. You’ll spend six months or a year with them paying them good money and all of a sudden, they can’t ever produce what they say. You wasted twelve months and that’s a lifetime in the plant world.
You have to know that you don’t know some things. In the grow we have, I’m extremely lucky for and the reason I was able to get my business off the ground is because I started this company with a dream. We had nothing at all. I told my little brother if he became partners with me, our plan would be to sell 1/3 of the company for financing. I was going to keep a 1/3 and then I was going to give him 1/3. Giving him 1/3, he had a spot that’s operational still that I could take investors to and say, “This is what we’re doing on 3,000 square feet. If you give me the money to do 30,000 square feet, I can put the ten factors to this build right here that you’re looking at and that we’re walking through. This is the numbers that it’s producing and we can do it tenfold better.” I’ll say, “He’s going to be the grower. He’s going to keep doing everything he’s doing. I’ll be the organizer guy and I’ll build the whole facility.” We found back in that way.
Why didn’t you and your brother continue to stay in the black market gray area?
This is the greatest opportunity we’ve ever had. We’ve been outlaw, misfits for a good part of our lives. Granted that both of us had never been arrested, we have clean records and we try to be good citizens. When the dot-com thing happened, I wasn’t good at computers. I wasn’t figuring that stuff out. This is a skill that we have ingrained into us that we have a love for. It was an opportunity that knocked at the door and to tell the truth that I never thought I would be able to achieve. Most of the people that I’ve been telling that I’m doing this or tell them my ideas that I want to do tell me that I’m crazy.
Who are these people? You don’t have to name them. Are they in your social circle or other growers?
Everybody I talked to about this has an opinion in a different way. My close friends telling me that my storm retention pond isn’t big enough and it’s going to fail because of that way. This is a stormwater pond to catch the water off my driveway and people are hating on that. To put all that stuff behind you and keep plugging forward. This is our 3rd or 4th location that we’re on and we’re building out. The first three got shut down for various different reasons.
You mean since 2016, this is the fourth?
In 2016, I got a lease on 150-acre dairy farm. That’s directly across the street from the building I’m in. That property is in Agricultural Protection Restrictions so you can’t grow federally illegal crops on it.
That was a tough lesson to learn then.
After a year of chasing down my mayor, I got my community host agreement. He signed my permission slip to grow on this piece of property. Two weeks later, I found out when I was going through the rest of the process, that property wasn’t allowed to be grown on.
What did you do when they found that out?
It was devastating that I had illegally grown weed in my town on a piece of property that you weren’t allowed to do it on. It was a huge blunder and mistake by my point. I spent six months trying to get this place licensed that was unrealistic to have.
How much money did you lose?
I had a good handshake with my tenant. I noticed that a lot of people that enjoy cannabis will help you out in this process if one hand can wash the other. We’ve got a good lease on keeping the farmer happy. It wasn’t a lot of money out of pocket.
Let’s go to the second location then. You’ve cried in your beer and you’re like, “I’ve got to move forward.” What drives you to move to the next one?
I had the little win of that behind me that I had this community host agreement. I knew that I was restricted to my town, Amesbury. I pulled out the zoning map and started saying, “What are the available locations?” I made a list on a notepad and drove around town and knocked on every available door and tried to figure that out. I found an old chair making factory that looked beautiful, completely empty, 100,000 square feet. I was in love when I saw her. I walk to the guy. I wanted to do $4.50 a square foot. It was cheap too. He was willing to rent me $20,000, $40,000, $60,000, and keep going up from there.Count the little wins and the freedom that comes with it. Click To Tweet
You told him you were going to be growing in it right away?
Yes. He was a great guy. He was happy as can be but he said, “I own this in a family trust. I have to go talk with my sister and my father.” His sister’s husband is an insurance risk management person and said growing cannabis in the building is crazy. The father was 96 or 97 years old and said, “There’s no way this cannabis is being grown in my facility.”
That demon weed is what it was.
That got shot down. I have no financial backing. I have this host agreement. My lawyer who’s working with me is a local public defender. I ended up giving him 1% of my company because I could not afford him at all. He likes our industry also. We worked together a bit in his garden and he helped me out a bit and I was able to afford him that way. I’m with my lawyer and we have two locations that fail. We go and tour another one that these people want us on. They’re happy on it.
One percent, that’s awesome. Congratulations. For the readers out there, there are several other episodes where I discuss how to get somebody behind you in your corner. What Matt has done here is he is taking a bad situation where he had no money and he was able to find somebody that has the legal knowledge to help him out but also get somebody with a driving force to want him to succeed. This is a big part of it because when you’re growing that business, you have multiple people pushing and not looking for a paycheck, it helps towing that line a lot easier.
Unbeknownst to the lawyer, I looked him into me good where I had a respected member of the community. He’s on a couple of different boards in town. He volunteers throughout town, is well-respected in the community and the state. Suddenly I can say, “This guy is on our team too.”
How does that make you look to the rest of the community?
It gives me some professionality that I got this one guy. If everybody respects him and he’s willing to talk with me, then I must be somebody. I told him the plan was that we had a backer. This whole time I had a dozen different people that I was trying to toy with and try to get money off of. It was nerve-racking. You don’t know which person to take, we don’t know what things are going to cost. At that time, I was asking for $1.6 million. I found a local builder that I was doing a ton of work with, a nice guy to me. He said, “I’ll give you that money. No problem.”
I’ve got the purchase and sales agreement on this property with a $10,000 down. I locked it up for 90 days until I had to buy the property. I put $10,000 down that I borrowed off my brother. We locked this property up. We had 90 days to find a financer to buy this property for us. This guy was saying, “We can find a bank that can buy it for us. We can do this. We can do that. This person will give us the money.” I said, “The reason I’m coming to you is because I thought you were going to fund me outright.” He goes, “I can fund you outright but it’s better if we don’t do this with our own money, we should do it with somebody else’s money.” I said, “That’s exactly what I’m trying to do with you. You shouldn’t be trying to do this outside of me.”
How much time did you waste on him?
That was a six-month courtship.
There’s a year gone by.
The whole time, he was saying, “I’m going to help you.” He never helped me find property or anything. I got this property locked down in my name and said that nobody else can get this except for me, except for who I decided to bring on the team. At the similar time, my real estate agent, her coworker and her husband got into a fortunate situation and they sold the company. She’s a real estate agent. He’s a commercial fisherman. They had some interest in another company that they sold. They came across a bit of money. She reached out to my mom in the office one day and said, “We’re getting some cash. We think about this marijuana thing. Do you know anything? Do you know any property that might be available?” She said, “Both my sons are heavily invested in this. One of them has a purchase and sales agreement on a property.”
Your family knew everything that you guys were doing?
Yes. My little brother in ninth grade, I watched my mother flushed down 1/4 pound of weed down the toilet. My uncle the next week was saying, “Linda, what the hell are you going to do? The kid is going to get his legs busted.”
The old school ways for sure.
I met up with our business partners, I told them that our lawyer got 1%. I said, “I want to get my brother 30%. I want to control the majority share with the company. I’ll get 35%.” We sold 32% of the company off of something like that.
This was somebody that you weren’t even connected to because you said you had twelve people that you were trying to work with.
There was a lot of other people that I was courting that I thought I was going to do business with, and this was never a consideration. To tell the truth, I considered his brother at one time because I knew his brother had some money. I was thinking about that.
You started somewhere and you’re like, “I can’t believe this happened this way.”
I sit down with them, we’re at a bar and I give them a little jar. We talk about the plan and they said, “We want to go see up north and we’re going to consider this.” Ended up the guy that I was courting for the six months prior, he took off and went to Hawaii for a month. That gave me enough time to finalize my business partner. It was finalized with this other guy. When the original guy came back, he looked at me and said, “I can’t believe you’re making this decision. This guy has way too much money. All he’s going to do is steal your company from you. You don’t know him. We know each other, we’re going to work through this together.”
I said, “I’m not sure.” He calls me back and said, “For the last two years you’ve been working for this company, Jamaco.” I said, “Yes.” He goes, “Have you taken a paycheck?” I said, “No. I spent all my money.” He goes, “The job you’ve done the last two years is at least $100,000 a year.” He said, “I’ll cut you a check now for $200,000 cash free and clear to become your business partner and then I’ll fund your whole operation.”
He was trying to get in there. How did that make you feel when he said that?
Having $8,000 in your bank account and having your monthly expenses be $5,000 and having somebody offer you $200,000? It was a tough decision.
About Matt Gillard
Mixed-light craft cultivator of cannabis in the Massachusetts recreational cannabis market. Matt has been in the cannabis industry for two decades and now he is going commercial.