CACannaBizCon 2019: Five questions with Greenleaf Payroll and Business Solutions
The National Cannabis Industry Association’s annual California Cannabis Business Conference 2019 took place this week in Long Beach, CA, and The Elegant Stoner was in attendance, covering the show as it happened. The show expo featured lots of different businesses involved in the cannabis space, including many that don’t really sell consumer products — they offer help to growing cannabis businesses, or support the industry in other ways. Even though we mostly focus on cool stuff consumers can buy, we still wanted to highlight some of the people and businesses at the show, and so we’re going to be posting a series of quick interviews from around the CACannaBizCon 2019 show floor, asking people at the show what they’re up to, and what they’re thinking about in the cannabis industry.
What's your name, title, and what do you do?
My name is Kira Amundsen, Vice President of Greenleaf Payroll and Business Solutions -- we go by Greenleaf for short. What we do is we offer HR, payroll, HR technology, timekeeping, etc. for the cannabis space. We help our clients really navigate from an HR standpoint but also layer in the BCC or whatever regulatory in their state that they need to follow. So we help them navigate which rules California says I have to do for employment law, and then which ones do I follow because BCC says I have to do it.
So things like that -- we also help put timekeeping in place which is really going to help with all of the different departments and divisions, when you have to go seed to sale, you have people out in the field that are going to be mobile punching, and people on site that will be doing finger scans. So we help with things like that, and then we do the payroll, which is really hard for the cannabis space right now because of the federally illegal banking situation. It makes it really hard for any of the big boys, the box office types of payroll providers. They don't want to muddy their other business so they won't do it.
How did you get involved in cannabis?
It was really founded because my partner and I -- Mark Rodriguez, he's the president -- we are partners in life as well. We wanted to start a business and we both worked for Paychex. We were really big, high producers, sold multiple products there, knew everything about the benefits, 401ks, health benefits, PPOs, everything that a business owner needs to know, and we wanted to start a business and apply everything we'd learned, and all of our knowledge and expertise, and cannabis is the industry that really needs this support and needs true business professionals that understand how to make this whole thing come together. So that's how it was founded -- we were all in.
What do you like about the industry?
I love the cannabis industry. I love the people I work with. The business owners in the cannabis space are so much different than traditional business owners. Even people that came from traditional -- they don't treat it like a commodity. They want your help — it's very old school in a way that everything's about relationships and referrals, where in a regular business, that's kind of on the way out — it's very much who gives me the best price and that's all I care about. So I love the people I work with, and I love being part of something where we're the pioneers. It's sort of like the Wild West, but everyone's trying to figure it out together. It gets exciting -- I get chills just talking about it!
What's the biggest obstacle for the industry, from your perspective?
Banking, 100%. It's really frustrating for our clientele to not be able to move their money in the most efficient, safest way possible, especially when it comes to paying your employees. So a lot of times, I'll be in a sales call, and the banking is the hurdle. We will help clients that are in cash, but obviously it complicates things a bit. Once banking is resolved, it's going to make our lives and our clients' lives a lot easier and safe. That's the biggest issue. All of the other day to days, once we get in there and see what's going on, we can help correct things that are out of compliance. But other than that, it's like regular business, just a little more fun.
Anything you've seen that's cool lately, or that you want to recommend?
I did meet with a guy the other day who created this product that will take ocean water, and convert it into water that can be used for their plants, which will be huge. The cost of water and the cost of actually growing the plant is really expensive, especially with all of the taxes and fees that come from everywhere. So if clients can lower their bottom line on the necessity pieces, then they'll be able to actually get a margin in there.
Thanks for reading! You can see all of our NCIA CACannaBizCon 2019 interviews all in one place with our CACannaBizCon2019 tag. Stay tuned for more interviews with cannabis business owners and professionals, straight from the show floor.