Revolutionizing the Future of Sustainable Cannabis Cultivation with Jesús Burrola (POSIBL)

Episode Description

In this episode of Kaya Cast Podcast, we dive deep into the world of cannabis cultivation with Jesús Burrola, CEO of the POSIBL Project. Jesús shares the unique approach that sets the POSIBL Project apart from other cannabis businesses, focusing on sustainable and cost-effective methods to deliver high-quality products.

We discuss the challenges of balancing indoor and outdoor cultivation, how their methodology leads to more sustainable cultivation, and the collaboration with legacy breeders to create unique strains.

Jesús also opens up about the current state of the cannabis market, the need for regulatory changes, and his vision for the future of the POSIBL Project. So, join us as we explore this booming industry and learn how the POSIBL Project aims to revolutionize cannabis cultivation for the better.

Jesus Burrola is Chief Executive Officer of POSIBL, the cannabis farm of the future and engine for several of California’s leading brands. With over 2,000,000 units of packaged product to date, POSIBL is redefining what it means to produce the highest quality cannabis. Jesus is a proven leader who believes in his teams as the primary driver of growth. He leads the organization’s growth strategy in sales and operations and the best team at POSIBL to position the company as a global market leader. Prior to POSIBL, Jesus worked for 15 years at Beacon Building Products, the largest publicly traded building materials distributor in North America. Jesus was at the company during growth from $1 Billion to $8 Billion — through a combination of 30+ acquisitions and launches into new markets. Jesus worked his way up from a trainee to a National Vice President, managing a $700M  business segment. During Jesus’ time there, he held roles in both Sales Management and Operations, and was tasked with integrating several large acquisitions. Jesus holds a Bachelor of Science in Supply Chain Management from Arizona State University. He enjoys quality time with his family, playing golf, and exploring great cuisine.

Find out more about POSIBL at:

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Episode Transcript

Jesús Burrola: The industry's not going anywhere. It certainly needs some changes from a regulatory standpoint, but I think the trend is very clear. More and more people want access to legal cannabis and at some point, everybody's gonna get together and figure that out.

Welcome to the Kaya Cast, the podcast for cannabis businesses looking to launch, grow, and scale their operations. Each week we bring you interviews with industry experts and successful retailers, plus practical tips and strategies to help you succeed in the fast growing cannabis industry.

Tom Mulhern: Today on the Kaya Cast Podcast, we have our very first cultivator that we've ever had on the show, and I'm so excited to share this conversation with Jesus Burrola, who is the CEO of POSIBL Project.

Jesus and I sit down and we chat about the future of the cannabis industry. We talk about how to retain good people, how to find those good people.

We talk about his cultivation methods and ways that cultivators can be more sustainable and profitable with their business. So I hope you enjoy this conversation with Jesus B

Tom Mulhern: Jesus Burrola is the CEO of POSIBL, the cannabis farm of the Future. An engine of several of California's leading brands with over 2 million units of package product to date.

POSIBL is redefining what it means to produce the highest quality cannabis. Jesus is a proven leader who believes in his teams as the primary driver of growth. He leads the organization's growth strategy in sales and operations and the best team at POSIBL to position the company as a global market leader.

Well, Jesus, welcome to the podcast. It's so awesome to have you on the show and, and I'm really excited to find out more about you and what you're doing at POSIBL so. So welcome to the show.

Jesús Burrola: Thank you very much for having me.

Tom Mulhern: Tell me a bit about your background and how did you get involved in the cannabis industry?

Jesús Burrola: I grew up in Mexico. I lived there till I was 18. I,grew up around distribution. My, my dad owned a distribution business in Mexico, went to school for distribution, and it just seemed right. Go to work in a distributor. So I did that for 15 years.

And I was looking for the nextthing to keep me busy and growing. Had this opportunity to join the cannabis business actually through a friend. That I grew up with. He's one of the largest ag producers in Mexico, in, in high-tech greenhouses. He has a large company called Vivo Organica that private labels for the 16 largest retailers in the United States.

Cannabis was super interesting to me. I wanted to join it. It was a little scary of like, well, I don't have this expertise and it's agriculture, knowing that, you know, we had his experience in large scale agriculture and white labeling and this great opportunity in a new in a new industry gave me a lot of confidence to, to make the jump.

Tom Mulhern: What inspired him to create POSIBL project? Like why get into cannabis?

Jesús Burrola: We all kind of share a passion for the industry and, and, and for cannabis. But I think he saw a need for a solution. So there were gonna be a lot of brand builders that we're gonna wanna build a powerful cannabis brand. But that doesn't really translate well to owning and operating a cultivation facility.

How he came about? The opportunity was really, he was pitched on a cannabis investment and he would tell you, he came in and it was a bunch of Wall Street bankers saying, hey, give us your money so that we can go and we'll take a fee and then we'll buy cannabis farms at a premium.

And he, you know, and then he started looking into it and he's like, this is already what I do. I grow in greenhouses. I'm, I'm an ag expert. Why would I give my money to bankers when this is something that I have the expertise and the passion to do myself?

Tom Mulhern: I want to get into your cultivation and your growing method because I think one of my favorite things is just seeing those huge cultivation facilities. So what kind of sets POSIBL's cultivation methods apart from other cannabis businesses? And how do you ensure that you guys have high quality at a low cost point?

Jesús Burrola: I think what sets us apart is like our vision for what is the highest quality, most sustainable, like lowest cost of production. And for us, that means mixed light. We understand that the market perceives the highest quality to be in like indoor cannabis, but that's a not very sustainable, right?

Because it requires, you know, the use of energy to generate an environment and so it ultimately becomes very expensive for the consumer at the end of the day. And on the other side, you've got outdoor, which is fantastic cannabis, but it's a once a year harvest. So how do you build a brand around a product on the shelf that starts to oxidize, you know, three months in, it's really hard to do.

Greenhouse sits in this middle and it one incorporates all the natural elements, you know, natural sunlight, great growing conditions that we have here but that still doesn't produce the highest quality. Or like you could still put that next to an indoor product and it won't look the same.

Our methodology is to really take all those natural elements, but then say, okay, if that gets me to 60 to 70% of what the plant needs, what's the other 40%? And that's where supplemental, LED lighting, supplemental co2 dehumidification strategy, all those things to create the ideal condition with less energy and ultimately less cost, is what I think sets us apart.

Does that also help with the sustainability because you'regetting the, the most important light in there at the right times and letting in moisture or letting out moisture. Like it probably all factors into that.

Honestly, sustainability is also tied to, price. We consume about a third of the energy that an indoor growth goes, and energy's not cheap.

It helps us reduce the cost and it helps us create the product in a more sustainable way.

Tom Mulhern: Are there other companies that are focusing on sustainability in the way that you guys are? Or, you know, is this the future of the industry, this kind of hybrid grow? Because you guys are situated in California, water is a huge, huge issue there. And so sustainability has to play into every business that's growing, every cultivation in California, I would imagine.

Jesús Burrola: I mean, There's additional things that we do from a sustainability aspect. For example, we don't, drain, we don't over water. we try to basically run this facility with, with zero leche ORs drainage to only give the plant the water that it needs.

We are looking at other aspects as well. So we have in this next faze of the project a natural gas co generation plant because that basically creates a, a close loop, we'll burn natural gas to produce, energy that'll produce the heating from that source. We'll do the cooling of the greenhouse through that chilling process.

And when you burn gas, you produce co2, which is also what plants eat.

Tom Mulhern:  Have you been able to develop some unique strains with this growing in this cultivation method?

Jesús Burrola: What we've actually created is a system where we work with legacy breeders to R&D and try things here as a production house. As opposed to me breeding the five or six different strains, I get to work with five or six different breeders that each bring me their five or six things and then pick from that.

So one, I think it's more efficient. But then two, I think it's also a way to, to work with the community and the folks that have like brought us to where we are today.

Tom Mulhern: Speaking of brands,what was the launch and the growth of the HUMO brand, and how does it kind of align with your overall business strategy and vision for POSIBL?

Jesús Burrola: You know, obviously I'm Latino, we're raised in Mexico. David founder is Hector, our coo grew up with me in Hermosillo since we're kindergarten, so we're all Latinos in the space We've talked to dozens and dozens of brands that have come through the door looking for a supply chain partner.

And we kept asking brands like, why are they no Latino brands on the shelf? People kept asking like, why not you? And, and, and to be honest, that was a very hard decision for us because that wasn't our core business was not brands.

Our core business was production. But we saw this huge opportunity in the market that was underserved to people like myself.

We need to be able to control a little bit of our sales destiny.

And then if we were gonna do that, why not do it through a brand that we felt passionate about as Latinos in the space to bring to market and you know, really represent our culture.

Tom Mulhern: What's your commitment to social justice and equity in the cannabis industry, but also for the Latino community?

Jesús Burrola: POSIBL employees, over a hundred people in the Salinas Valley and I think something very important to note is like Salinas is primarily Latino. Very unfortunately, even though it is a highly productive part of the, country really, that produces most of the leafy greens for the us it's a high poverty rate and the reason for that is it's all outdoor seasonal crops. So you might have lettuce season and that will go on for two months, or you'll have strawberry season that'll go go on for two months. So you've got people coming in and out of employment. And that's very hard to do. What POSIBL allows us to do in like a greenhouse methodology is we're a year round grow, so we're providing jobs for people in agriculture here in our local community that are year round and under much better working conditions.

Tom Mulhern: What are some of the tips for hiring those quality candidates? Because, you know, hiring for a cultivation facility, like you said, you've got a lot of people, so how do you find those quality candidates that, that you need?

Jesús Burrola: We moved to Salinas and we set up this business here because of the great growing conditions. Well, those great growing conditions have actually allowed agriculture to thrive here. So the local community in Salinas has such an incredibly hardworking group of folks that have actually been working at jobs for a long period of time.

So, as much as I'd say you know, oh, it's because we, we, we only interview the best people. Like, honestly, we're so blessed that. Most of the people that come here have worked in agriculture know what growing plants is about at scale and are not afraid of hard work.

Are you able to keep those people? Like, Do you have a pretty low turnover rate? Yes, we do. We do and, folks that work here just get better and better. Like our culture here is about, okay, we just had this harvest. How do we get better on the next harvest? And how do we get better on the new next one? Whether that be on the quality side, whether that's driving costs down as well.

So, you know, when we've had folks work here for three, four years, like there's an accumulated knowledge base and where folks have really continued to thrive.

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Tom Mulhern: What are your thoughts on the kind of the current state of the cannabis market and what do you think the future holds for maybe POSIBL in the industry as a whole?

Jesús Burrola: It's definitely tough times in the industry right now. I think the common thread is like there's price compression happening in almost every single market. I think there's a lot of companies based on the overregulation that have not gotten to profitability and the capital markets have kind of dried up. Everybody's really tasked with getting very efficient. And really achieving profitability because the capital markets are just getting tougher and tougher.

The industry has huge potential long term. I do think it requires some cooperation on behalf of the federal government and the regulations and red tape that exist today. But at the end of the day, this is a hundred billion dollar industry. It's one of the fastest growing industries in America.

Just saw some stats, like I think there was more cannabis and chocolate sold this year, right?

The industry's not going anywhere. It certainly needs some changes from a regulatory standpoint, but I think the trend is very clear. More and more people want access to legal cannabis and at some point, everybody's gonna get together and figure that out.

Tom Mulhern: I wanna go back to some of the brands that you've worked with, cuz you guys power the six of the top 100 flower brands in California. And like you said, at that, at that time when things started getting tough, did you see anything that was kind of a key to success for some of those brands that survived?

Yeah, being able to really resonate with the consumer, like, so you have to have a differentiating part, like having good flower in a bag is not a brand. Who's your target? What are you doing to resonate with that target base? Like what sets you apart from the next brand? And so, I mean, you have folks like Old Pal that, I mean, every time I look, they're doing something different.

Jesús Burrola: Whether it's a collaboration with an artist that resonates with their community, whether it's, I mean, there's always something to talk about them. So they keep the brand fresh. I think they know who they are, and I know, I think they know who they're trying to, to basically cater to.

Tom Mulhern: That's core to who you guys are, is educating your community. And do you see that changing too, like within the Latino community?

Jesús Burrola: we really strive to have a voice to, to normalizing cannabis use. And I think now when 70% of the population has access to legal cannabis, like people have asked me like, what are, oh my God, what about your daughter?

And what about like, my daughter's gonna grow up in a age where cannabis was never illegal, right? Like, so, yeah, I do see a change.

Tom Mulhern: Yeah, and I see that stigma changing. I mean, I'm up in Canada and it's the same with my kids. They've grown up basically in a time where it's legal everywhere, and it's such a different stigma than when you and I were growing up and it was like, it's funny you say like, a brand isn't just weed in a bag like that.

That was the brand when we were young, you know? But it's changed so much and there's these, these huge multi-million dollar companies and amazing cultivation facilities like you guys working to make better product, make it more sustainable. So, That's really cool to, to see that change happen in our lifetime.

you know?

Jesús Burrola:  what do you see as the future of POSIBL, like dream big? What do you kind of see on the horizon for what you guys are doing?

I think what we're seeing right now is a shift away from this like vertically integrated model, right? That everybody started with, right? Where it's like you have to own your cultivation facility. You have to have your brands, you have to own dispensaries. And like what I think people have found out is like, those are three different businesses.

And by the way, cannabis is very capital intensive. We always talked about like how hard it is to raise capital or, or even debt for the industry in general. So like what we're seeing is people say, okay, I don't need to do all, maybe I just focus on retail or maybe I just focus on cultivation. You know, our goal for POSIBL is that when people think about who is the best white labeling solution for an asset like brand, that, like our name is what comes out of people's mouth. And I think, we're on track to do that.

That's a pretty bold shift because I mean, having a vertically integrated, business was so important, but now you're saying actually you see a shift moving, focusing on more brand partnerships and collaboration within the industry. Instead of like, we gotta do it all.

Tom Mulhern: We just gotta, we gotta grow it, we gotta sell it, we gotta brand it. Like you're seeing it a shift in that. That's really interesting.

Jesús Burrola: We've talked to some of the largest companies in the state that have said, you know what? We've realized like we're not growers. Like that was a mistake. We're gonna shut down cultivation and let folks that like that, that's their core value add, do that. And then we, our core value is owning retail and operating retail or the brand focus.

So yeah, you'd be surprised how much it's going in the other direction nowadays.

Tom Mulhern: really appreciate you sharing that because I haven't heard anyone say that that, that that's the future is, is moving away from doing it all to focusing on your strengths, which makes sense, you know.

Jesús Burrola: But it's the way most traditional industries work, right? You don't, you don't see Coca-Cola saying, you know what? We gotta buy a bunch of sugar cane fields, and start doing that or start growing corn, figured out that that's not their value add, right? They're, they're a company that creates a great product.

They outsource the production of that product you know, and they sell the experience and they sell this brand story.

it's kind of how almost every other industry works.

And I do think that I'm now seeing the shift in cannabis where that's beginning to, to kind of come back the other way.

Tom Mulhern: Jesus. If someone wants to get connected to POSIBL, find out more about what you guys are doing. How can people connect with you and maybe, you know, find out more about what you guys are doing and be inspired by what you guys are creating there.

Jesús Burrola: So you can go to our website, Or you could hit us up on Instagram as well. It's at POSIBL project.

Tom Mulhern: And we'll have all those links in the bio so that people can click on it and, and connect with you. But Jesus, I really appreciate you taking this time and sharing a bit about, you know, what makes you guys unique as a cultivation and sort of the future of the industry.

Jesús Burrola: Thank you so much.

Tom Mulhern: Well, I really appreciate the time that Jesus gave me, and I really appreciated his insights into cultivation. I loved his idea of not creating brand new strains, but partnering with legacy growers to elevate the strains that they'd already produced. And so, you know, there's so many interesting aspects to cultivation and to growing and I'm, I, I'm just fascinated by the fact that we work in an industry that's based on this product, cannabis, marijuana, weed, whatever you want to call it, and we often don't think through the process of what it takes to get the product itself.

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Thanks for listening to the Kaya Cast podcast. We hope you enjoyed the show. Don't forget to subscribe to our podcast in your favorite podcast app, or visit our website to learn more about our guests and to access the full archive of episodes from the show. Join us next time as we continue to explore the world of cannabis.

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