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Groundworks Industries: Shifting the Shape of Cannabis

We can affect a lot more change and impact with different resources.

The Impact Issue is a time to tackle topics of great importance, ranging from inclusivity to the battle of business. So, we sat down with someone who offers perspective from a high viewpoint. Erin McFadin is the president and CEO of Groundworks Industries, one of Oregon’s largest operators and oldest vertically integrated organizations. This powerhouse was founded in 2014 and has bolstered brands like Pruf Cultivar, Serra, Farma and Electric Lettuce. But it’s not purely their portfolio that piques our interest. Groundworks is shifting the shape of the Cannabis business, boasting an upper management team led largely by women, and cultivating community resources through corporate structures.

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As the leader of a vertically integrated company with branches in five segments of the industry, you must have a unique perspective of overarching trends and themes. Do you see any levels in Cannabis that still need improvement when it comes to inclusivity, specifically, when it comes to offering folks outside of the male demographic space to grow?
The folks that honestly bust their butts, are innovating, showing up every day, and honestly caring; a lot of the time, I see them one level below where they should be because as companies get successful, they look for someone that’s done something similar from, you know, inside or outside the industry. Because they’re not willing to maybe take the jump. I think a lot of folks got pigeonholed quite early in their Cannabis careers.

Consciously Captured LLC

What can vertically integrated corporate company structures bring to an industry that’s saturated in small business?
We can affect a lot more change and impact with different resources. So when we talk about a vertical integration, it gives us an understanding of more pieces of the business. We can see the industry from the struggles of cultivation. We can go into manufacturing and look at some of the products that are missing from an R and D perspective, or from a consumer wellness perspective. The responsibility of that also lies in creating these partnerships with folks that don’t occupy all of those spaces and making sure that we can be a resource.

How does Groundworks Industries rally around the idea of being a resource for the community?
We have this thing called the JEDI Council. It stands for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. It’s led by Jillian Scattarella who runs our Marlow Avenue store, but it’s all employee-driven. They take volunteers from all these different parts of the company and run all these different quarterly projects. We’ve done things like the Transitions Projects, Pride, and the Oregon Handlers Fund. Now we continue community support by doing something similar (to Oregon Handlers Fund) in-house.

Can big and small business co-exist, or better yet: become mutually beneficial? 
We work with a lot of small brands at our wholesale distribution, not just internal brands like Pruf Cultivar. We really pick up a lot of small producer niche brands that are looking to figure out how to solve distribution but don’t have the cash and capital to do it. Should they suffer because they don’t have a giant marketing plan, or can we put them on our menu? Why wouldn’t we use our powers for good? 

gw-ind.com | electriclettuce.com | shopserra.com | farmapdx.com | @prufcannabis

This article was originally published in the June 2024 issue of Oregon Leaf.

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