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EXCLUSIVE: Presidential Cannabis — California's Blunt Kings Share Their Recipe To Succeed In Retail

Presidential is now ranked the No. 1 blunt company and the No. 4 four-rated infused pre-roll brand in the country, according to BDSA’s most recent findings.

As the 10th anniversary of the brand’s launch approaches, some might wonder how the company was able to prosper in the current turbulent cannabis market.

In an exclusive interview with Benzinga, Presidential co-founder and CEO Everett Smith explained how the brand acquired an extended presence in retail with sustained profit.

“The brand started in 2013 in my apartment. Long story short, we started with some white-label products for a brand, and then we created Presidential branding. I think my business partner John [Zapp] and I were the first ones in the market to really take the branding seriously, kind of differentiate ourselves. Our brand got to be as big as this brand that was buying our product. We were able to curate the quality,” Smith said.

“We have three or four different family farms that we source flowers and trim from in bulk, and we have a proprietary infusion process. And I think that’s what differentiates our product. We put the kif on top just to give it an extra kick. So we’re actually making traditional moon rocks,” Smith explained.

Blue Ocean Strategy: Becoming Really Good At What You Do

Smith explained that when they came into the recreational market, the company had all kinds of products, but everything changed when Smith read a book “about finding a niche” called “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne.

“The book spoke to my soul and John and I decided to cut out all the products there weren’t making any sense. We changed our packaging … we said, ‘What we are known for is on moon rocks, that’s what makes us special. We will put more rocks in our pre-rolls, in our blend,’’’ Smith explained.

So the company went heavy on moon rocks.

“We make infused flowers, but we make them rocks and turn them into blunts,” Smith said.

The company decided to focus on moon rocks because it was well-known in that segment. The team decided to follow that specialization avenue where the costs involved were lower and the production line was simpler. And indeed, moon rocks are a product small firms can standardize and scale.

“We were wasting resources on products and packaging on things that weren’t selling as well. All of our Moon Rock products were far and away our best-selling products. That’s what people were buying,” Smith said.

“We had customers waiting on those products because we had spent some of our resources on other products that weren’t really moving. So, you know, it wasn’t conducive to success to have all those products,” he said.

“We got really thin and focused on zeroing in on a niche. And, you know, it was probably the best decision we made for our business,” Smith noted.

Being in the most mature market in the world, Zapp and Smith can see pre-rolls coming out in sales. Thus they decided to level up the operation and keep adding value to the cannabis. The company started rolling Moon Rock-based blunts.

Smith offered his perspective on this segment.

“I believe pre-rolls are the fastest-growing category in California, especially infused pre-rolls. You know, California’s a different market. A lot of people are into the infused segment. Only 30% to 40% of California has access to recreational cannabis. So we’re still growing,” Smith said.

Are they thinking about expanding to other states?

“We’re actually right in the thick of things in Nevada and Oklahoma. I do think a lot of the knowledge that we’ve learned here in California will serve us well in those markets, because, you know, it is the most competitive market as well as being the most mature market. We look at ourselves as a moon rock company. We make moon rocks and we use some of the most popular drivers to sell them,” Smith said.

“I think we have a quality product that’s always consistent, and our, packaging and branding resonates with salespeople. In today’s world, if you have quality and consistency, people will come back over and over again,” Smith continued.

Consistent Quality, Innovation And Training: Keys To Success

According to Smith, having better products and investing strategically are fundamentals for success.

“If the product is a high quality there’s less to clean up. Also, we found different machines that we could use for these products, we went from making 100 cones at a time to 300 cones at a time by just changing our production line. That changed the game for us. Now we do 900 at a time with three machines. In addition, we invested time in finding different people for different areas, finding what they’re good at,” Smith said, adding that the company invested in a room that heats up and has a vacuum bringing fresh air in, so it could dry the product faster.

“We are in the thick of things every day, in the manufacturing strategies, talking to salespeople and packaging,” Smith continued.

Taking Over The West Coast 

Presidential is preparing to launch in Nevada and in Oklahoma in January and is still in contract negotiations in Michigan and Arizona. Zapp and Smith are looking to “take over the West Coast” because the company and its co-founders already have a name there.

“It just makes sense for natural expansion right into Nevada, Arizona, Oregon and Washington. My partner John and I, to be the blunt kings of America. We want to take the Presidential to the East Coast, New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Hopefully one day we can have a large plant in California and we’re putting our product on 18-wheelers and ship it across the country to everybody like normal businesses,” Smith explained.

“We’re finding partners that have strong licenses for manufacturing and distribution. We’re not in the real estate business, we’re in the business of expanding Presidential strategically, understanding that we don’t want to invest a whole bunch of resources in two facilities essentially in those states because we know interstate commerce is coming,” Smith continued.

Expanding operations across the U.S. is not easy, and maintaining the signature quality of Presidential could become a challenge. However, the brand has standardized its operations and provides guides with operational procedures for its business partners.

“We have SOPs for everything and we hire people to train your staff. We give you the SOPs for how to package it. We supply all the marketing materials and branding materials for the salespeople to go out and sell the product and do pads with all the marketing and branding,” Smith said. “No matter if you’re in Arizona or you’re in Nevada or California, it’s the same. Just like a Hershey’s bar or a Coca-Cola.”

Smith said building a business model for when federal legalization happens has always been our goal. “We’ve always understood people want to buy cannabis, but they don’t want it to be some janky experience. They want it to be just like they buy everything else,” Smith concluded.

Photo: Courtesy Presidential. 

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