WebJoint had the privilege of interviewing Josh Wand, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ForceBrands. ForceBrands is a New York-based recruiting firm for cannabis brands of all sizes. HerbForce, the cannabis division of ForceBrands, connects cannabis companies with talented job-seekers who specialize in sales, marketing, finance, operations, and HR roles. HerbForce’s goal: to supply fast-growing cannabis companies with the talent they need to building meaningful brands and drive scalable operations.
Josh: ForceBrands was born out of my natural passion for the beverage industry and my interest in connecting people. In the early 2000s, I ran a rum company, an experience that helped me develop deep industry relationships and taught me how to hire a team, manage business development, and run a national sales and distribution network. The idea for ForceBrands came about in 2006 when I was promoting our rum brand at the South Beach Food and Wine Festival in Miami. Someone from a champagne company approached me and asked if I knew of any Regional Sales Managers. A few minutes later, someone from a different champagne company expressed his interest in changing jobs. And suddenly my professional matchmaking career was born. At the time, high-quality recruiting for the beverage industry didn’t exist. In 2007, we launched BevForce. Following its success, other forces emerged. We expanded into packaged food with FoodForce and then into beauty and personal care with BeautyForce. Most recently, we’ve formalized several years of work in cannabis with the official launch of HerbForce, which was a natural evolution of our service offerings.
Josh: At ForceBrands, we’re in the people business. We see recruiting through a human lens and engage with job seekers and employers in a real way — we get to know them personally, understanding that each individual is as unique as the needs of an organization. All of ForceBrands’ industry-specific divisions collaborate with clients as friends and trusted colleagues in the pursuit of transformational goals. HerbForce is unique in that cannabis is a whole new industry where hiring playbooks do not yet exist. We’ve found that there are countless natural synergies between cannabis and other CPG sectors. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to leverage more than a decade of experience and our incredibly powerful community to build the cannabis teams of tomorrow.
Josh: Culture is key. Building great teams goes beyond matching skill sets with job descriptions and responsibilities. I’m proud of the culture we’ve built at ForceBrands — one that is centered around our core values: people first, integrity, collaborative culture, progressive, purposeful. I always recommend to the teams that we’ve helped build to go beyond filling a role — hire candidates who fit the role not just professionally, but personally and culturally as well.
Josh: There are a lot of natural synergies between cannabis and the beverage alcohol world as they’re both highly regulated industries. Even though alcohol is federally legal in the U.S., the laws are complex as they vary at the state and local levels. Cannabis brands should look to the bev alc industry and to those with experience cooperating with legal restrictions as determined by federal, state, and local laws.
Josh: There is no one-size-fits-all approach to team building. Understanding that each organization is uniquely different helps us approach each brand differently. Cannabis is a new industry, and even though there is not yet a hiring playbook for this sector, we’re able to take what we’ve done building beverage, food, and beauty brands and apply that directly to cannabis companies.
Josh: The first key hires I would make would be Head of Operations, Head of Finance, Head of Revenue, and Head of Field Marketing. I realize that’s four positions but they are all incredibly valuable for getting a cannabis brand off the ground. And when it comes to sourcing talent for these roles, I would look toward the CPG industry as cannabis essentially is a consumer good. I would invest a lot in taking the time to find the right people — not just the people who meet the desired skill sets necessary to succeed.
Josh: Hiring is about looking at the whole picture. As mentioned above, brands should consider looking at their hiring strategy beyond just filling roles. It takes patience to find the right fit. It’s not an easy feat and there are no shortcuts when it comes to making great hires. Brands that take the time to hire right will be rewarded with long-term growth and success.
Josh: Cannabis is already an incredibly crowded and competitive space, and I don’t see its momentum slowing down anytime soon. When it comes to building top teams, employers should look to their benefits and compensation packages to attract and retain top talent. ForceBrands’ 2019 Talent Market Report, a comprehensive analysis of benefits and compensation packages across CPG, found that the cannabis sector was among the most competitive, with average annual raises the highest across CPG at 14 percent. When it comes to benefits, paid leave policies have gained in popularity in recent years and as a result, we’re seeing cannabis companies offer more extensive leave policies than established businesses across other industries. Cannabis brands should pay attention to their employee offerings to ensure that they’re building the best teams possible.
Josh: Some key overlooked positions are Head of Operations and Head of Finance. Both of these roles are critical to ensuring the business has what it needs to succeed.
Josh: I’m all about additional resources that help personal and professional growth. I highly recommend reading “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” by Tony Hsieh and “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. I also love the Peptalks app that offers daily motivation.