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How do you find good talent?

When you’re hiring new grow staff, where do you go to find the people with the right experience? Or do you prefer to hire for attitude and train new folks from the ground up?

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By the way, I’m particularly keen on the subject, and was potentially interested in doing a Spotlight on it. It’s one of those things that most people don’t focus on, but personnel is a big issue for cultivation!

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It all depends on the quality of your operations and the current staffing your have. If you have your own protocols and growing systems - sometimes it is better to hire someone who understands plants but isn’t stuck in a certain Cannabis growing paradigm (eg. market gardener vs cannabis grower). But… if you want a master grower - well you probably need their knowledge more than they need yours… Finding a master grower is not so easy. In many cases it might well be best to train and recruit from within.

And then beyond just the hiring question… how do you retain and create incentives for these people to build their careers with you…

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Bumping this topic for the newer folks.

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Most of the growers at the company I am employed at were hired from all over the country. Most growers don’t necessarily have experience in cannabis, some do. The majority are from plant or agriculture backgrounds and have degrees in said fields. The majority that have been hired claiming to be a ‘master grower’ often fall on their face and leave the company with their tail between their legs.

Weed is a plant. It may have some strain specific requirements, but it’s overall, a simple plant to grow. I think the main thing in hiring employees to be growers is to get someone with a plant background, and one that has experience in some type of cultivation. A person can read books all day, but applying the skills that are learned from a book aren’t always as easy as it may seem. Experience is worth as much as an education in many cases.

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Its very relative to the position you are looking to fill. You can’t train passion and attitude, but on the other hand you can’t have an amazing and passionate person on staff who is unable to complete the technical aspects of their position. I strongly believe in the core values established by the executives of any company. Those values are spread thru the company with positive leaders and maintaining your ethical standards of business.

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Completely agree @UVSafeWear. This book on the subject is a great one:


A lot of people talk about the Toyota Production System, but few realize that it was born out of a set of principles that the founders and executives live by:
http://leanblitzconsulting.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/14-Principles-of-The-Toyota-Way.pdf
One of the stories in the book is about how no manager should be able to sit down to dinner without washing their hands. What they mean by that is that higher-ups should consistently be on the front lines getting their hands dirty in the actual work. Without that they can’t truly understand the business and make intelligent management decisions.

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Totally agree, passion is a huge thing in this industry, as well an any other. If you just don’t give a damn about what you are doing then the output is not going to be optimal.

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There is a book called the lean farm, which I think is based on applying those Toyota principles on a farm. Anyways, if you want to find talent look to Universities and colleges with horticulture programs. Students with hands on experience and training and education in the fundamental sciences. There is not enough of this out there. Offer internships to college students and they will come back as graduated and can help build your organization. Everything that everyone else has said still applies though. Educated but not hard working doesn’t help much.

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That book looks great. Here’s the link for anyone who wants to check it out:


Impressive 5 star review score!

Internships are a great way both to train the next generation and to try out new workers in your environment before hiring full time.

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I give all our market garden staff and interns the Lean Farm to read (among others). It really helps change the way people think when they are farming. And growing Cannabis is ultimately just farming.

I have found some of my best hires have been random people that ask the right question at the right time.

Cannabis is just a plant - and yes anyone with some horticultural experience can grow it - but like any plant - if you spend 20 years growing it and playing with it you know it really really well… Tomatoes in a greenhouse are a very different plant from Cannabis.

IMO there are far to many people without deep roots in the Cannabis industry trying to profit off it - they sell shit ditch weed that looks good but has no soul… If you want to build a lasting Cannabis business - you need the craftsmen and the artisans. Otherwise you will just end up just competing with the Wal-Mart Marijuana line…

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But as your business grows, how do you find new employees with 20 years growing cannabis? You won’t! You probably can’t do that right now. There are too many cannabis growers that don’t understand large-scale cultivation and the methods used by tomato growers will be adapted by cannabis, are being adapted currently. (for indoor production, either in a greenhouse or other building). You can’t grow an industry and hire new people if you only look at and talk to people that are already in the industry. And some of the college graduates are individuals looking to make the path to legitimate legal production. But often I hear of past experience from students and it’s just bad information, or mis information. They were told something as fact and it just isn’t true. Because there are no scientific text books yet, and very few if any peer reviewed scientific journal articles or white papers on cannabis cultivation it is harder to find the cannabis growers that know what they are doing and are willing to and are actively sharing their knowledge. You’re right, you can learn alot in 20 years growing a plant, but some people can also spend 20 years doing the wrong thing or believing a myth as fact. That is something I learned when I applied for my first real job, don’t be intimidated by someone with more experience, because they are set in their ways and maybe they have been doing the wrong thing for 30 years and will never accept they are wrong and be open to being taught the right way. But a new student with a solid education can pick up knew knowledge very quickly as long as they don’t think they already know everything. But when you have to teach the fundamentals, the horticultural science, the botany and plant physiology, it takes longer!

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A lot of the folks I’ve met through this community had been growing illegally for some time and then turned legit once the legalization arrived. Still, there’s some difference between a stealth grow out in the woods and a full scale operation, so you do have a point :slight_smile:

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Right! Which is why those guys with the experience should be training those without. Someone that has 5 years growing tomatoes will know alot but they won’t have specific knowledge of the cannabis plant which, like Nathan said, is different. It takes all kinds. Of knowledge.

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Luckily, I think a lot of the basic skills transfer. @Dsolomon who grows for MedMen, for example, came out of traditional controlled agriculture. As long as you have a passion for horticulture and the technical background for it, you should be able to pick up the specific ins and outs of cannabis at a much faster rate than a newcomer might learn it.

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