Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve
Warren Bobrow=WB: Where did you grow up? Was cannabis vilified like where I grew up in 1960’s NJ? What brought you forward into the cannabis industry?
Kim Rivers=KR: I grew up in Jacksonville and went to school here in Florida. My dad is a retired police officer and my mom is a retired elementary school assistant principal, so as you can imagine that had some impact on my early view of cannabis and how it was perceived. My dad has since told me that so much of his time was spent on marijuana-related offenses and how there are much better uses of police force time. As for my mom, she’s a Truliever! Before joining Trulieve, I was a lawyer and an entrepreneur. My background prepared me for the regulatory and M&A aspects of the business as well as the fast pace and constant innovation. To gain a deeper familiarity with the cannabis industry, I spent a lot of time doing research and building a comprehensive understanding of the cannabis landscape not only in Florida but across the country. My early takeaways were that cannabis is poised to be a real industry that had a lot of disruption potential — but that there wasn’t really any sense of true national brand yet created. There was a real opportunity with that gap and the potential to shape an industry from the ground up really drew me in. Once I became CEO, I began to truly understand the life-changing effects of cannabis. Connecting with patients whose quality of life is impacted daily by our products is what motivates me.
WB: Tell me about your company? What makes your firm different and therefore more agile? Did you attend B school? If so did you anticipate where you are today? Do you have a mentor? Who?
Trulieve is a vertically integrated “seed-to-sale” company and is the first and largest fully licensed medical cannabis company in the state of Florida. We are one of the largest and most successful multi-state operators (MSOs) and are known for our incredible and loyal patient community, who we call our Trulievers. Trulieve stands out in the cannabis field thanks to our profitability and steady expansion at a time when the industry, as a whole, is still evolving and has recently experienced some turbulence. We are a financially disciplined company and have applied many traditional business practices across our company to drive efficiency, improve our supply chain, innovate our products to meet patient demand, and deliver excellent customer experiences. For example, we introduced feedback loops for continual improvement and to assure we create customer loyalty which ultimately fuels our growth. Our expansion in Florida and as we move into other states is to focus on delivering a consistently high patient and customer experience to replicate our success. This focus drives everything from our breadth of high-quality cannabis products to the knowledgeable and accessible Trulieve employees in our dispensaries.
I didn’t attend business school but instead received my law degree at the University of Florida. My experience as an attorney coupled with my early entrepreneurial background in real estate and the hospitality industry has served me well in my role at Trulieve in so many ways. For example, understanding the importance of building a brand and delivering excellent customer experiences. This builds strong relationships and loyalty which has been a cornerstone of our business. And, as importantly, my background as an M&A attorney provides the ability to understand the legal frameworks across multiple states with ever-changing regulations. Being able to anticipate and stay on top of evolving laws and regulations gives us an advantage.
In regard to your mentorship question, I do participate with several organizations and am in a program right now for female executives where I am mentoring a woman from the group which I am finding very rewarding.
WB: What is your six and twelve month plans? How do you move forward in our highly regulated industry?
Personally, I am very excited about 2020 and what we have on the horizon. We continue to expand our footprint in our home state of Florida to serve our patients and maintain our leadership position. On the product front, along with innovating new products through our R&D group, we fully expect edibles will finally hit the market in 2020. Once the Department of Health is able to address the long-awaited guidelines issue, we will be able to offer a full suite of products. Our edible line will not only be Trulieve branded, but also supplied by some of our wonderful brand partners. This will allow us to offer our current patients new products and potentially offer treatments in a form that more patients are familiar or comfortable with.
On the national front, we continue to build and prepare for our Massachusetts operations with our cultivation and production facility nearing its Phase 1 completion as well as our first dispensary being built out. Massachusetts also offers us the ability for expansion into the wholesale market which is exciting for us and will offer a new revenue stream. And, over the next six to twelve months, we also have a focus on growing our Connecticut and California dispensaries and expanding into new markets. More to come on that as we progress through 2020.
WB: What is your favorite restaurant? Where? Why? What kind of food? Do you cook? Who taught you?
KR: Dinner with my family at Bonefish or anywhere there are paper tablecloths so we can play Hangman. My son, who is 10, usually wins. I love lots of different food and enjoy trying new dishes. As someone with Italian and German heritage, mom’s homemade lasagna (my grandma’s recipe) and dutch cake (my other grandma’s recipe) have a special place in my heart. I have a deep appreciation for good food as I don’t cook at all!
WB: What is your passion?
KR: I am passionate about building a sustainable business that helps people live their best lives. I am also fiercely passionate about my friends and family who I fondly refer to as my tribe.
Thank you Kim, this was very enlightening! WB