One of Alberta’s cannabis producers is proud to be playing a small part in the cannabis marketplace.
“We’re a small team, but we’ve got big passion,” says David Isaak, founder, president and CEO of BOAZ Craft Cannabis in Calgary. “We’re a privately owned company that three friends and I funded 100 per cent ourselves.”
Coming out of oil and gas, Isaak wanted to hitch his wagon to a new industry.
“I didn’t know a lot about the cannabis industry,” he says. “but I felt it was time to pivot. I had built a lot of facilities and had a very transferrable skillset, dealing with a heavy regulatory environment. So, I got myself up to speed on the cannabis industry and brought it into Calgary. Calgary has such an amazing demographic of smart, young, highly educated people as a pool of resources.”
Operating on a smaller scale means BOAZ was able to move faster on gaining federal licences. Isaak and his partners funded construction of the Calgary facility on their own dime before filing their application paperwork.
“Phase one was basically getting enough infrastructure into the building to be able to be called a commercial licensed producer. We were hearing that it could be two, three, four, even five years to get approval,” says Isaak. “But we had everything in place and had our approval in 10 months and 22 days.”
Family Feel Phase Two
Now that BOAZ’s state-of-the-art, 20,000-square-foot facility is up and running, the company is working on its phase two expansion with completion expected sometime in 2020.
“Right now, we employ 15 full-time employees, and we bring in 15-20 part-time people when it’s time to do a trim. With the expansion, we’re looking at having 60 full-time people,” says Isaak.
“It’s important to keep the small feel of the workplace,” he says.
“For me, and for any of my businesses, my whole philosophy is that it should feel more like a family—everyone has input, everyone feels valued. Everyone’s usually here half an hour, an hour early. They’re excited to be here.”
Even with the planned expansion, Isaak says BOAZ is keeping things feeling small when it comes to producing craft cannabis.
“We want our growers to actually look at every single plant, every single day,” he says. “Our plants are grown and harvested by hand, not machine. They’re hand-watered. They’re hand-trimmed and hung-dry to increase terpene quality and intensity.”
Focusing on the plant means cannabis production remains close to the balance of science and art, says Isaak.
“Two people can grow the same plant, using the same soil, the same water—and the plant is different,” he says. “The key takeaway is we are truly local farmers, growing the best hand-quality craft cannabis. It hasn’t been sitting on the shelf. It’s small batch.”