Keystone Shops

Michael Badey
Company: Keystone Shops
Title: President and CEO
Age: 25

Jack Francis
Company: Keystone Shops
Title: Director of Finance
Age: 27

Connor McCue
Company: Keystone Shops
Title: Director of Strategy
Age: 25

The three guys at the top of Philadelphia’s Keystone Shops dispensaries have been friends for a long time. CEO Michael Badey has known Director of Strategy Connor McCue since elementary school and Director of Finance Jack Francis since high school.

Badey says the relationship between the trio is at the core of their success.

“Trust is a big part of this industry,” Badey says. “And us being friends for so many years was a really important part.”

But don’t get it confused, McCue and Francis aren’t just because they all came up together.

“I didn’t just pick these guys because they’re my friends,” Badey says. “There are so many friends who are great and you’ll wish them a happy birthday and hang out, but by God if you are going to hire them in your own company that would be a bad decision.”

Badey says Francis, for example, was not only the disciplined and dedicated captain of their high school swim team, but a hard worker in college who went on to get his CPA and master’s degree from Villanova before getting a job at Ernst & Young, one of the largest accounting firms in the world.

Francis says he was looking for a change of pace and wanted to get in on the ground floor of an industry where he could make a difference. When his friend offered a role in the nascent cannabis industry, something he was interested in anyway, Francis leapt at it.

“Pairing these two things together just made good sense,” he says.

And while McCue may not have the same career experience as Francis, Badey says the two of them have worked together on multiple projects — for school, work and fun — and he knows he can trust McCue to not only get things done and done well, but to step up to a challenge and take on whatever needs doing.

McCue says he always struggled to figure out what he wanted to do for his career and saw cannabis as a way to apply all of his skills to a single, emerging industry. When Badey asked him to do some marketing and branding work, he did it. When other needs arose at the company, he did them too. These days, he works more on the operational side of the business.

“The greatest opportunity just came out of the blue,” he says.

After graduating college in 2015, Badey approached his father with a business proposal for Pennsylvania’s newly created medical marijuana market. His father saw the potential and some family friends were also interested in getting into the business. The group pooled their resources and got behind Badey’s plan, forming the company in July 2016.

“I really just saw the potential for all this,” Badey says.

Badey scouted potential locations and through the first part of 2017 worked on completing the state’s 600-page application, earning one of 10 dispensary permits granted in June 2017. Keystone Shops was the fourth dispensary in the state to open and the first in the Southeast region to sell product. The company opened in February 2018 and sold out of product in six days.

Today, Keystones Shops has two locations just outside of Philadelphia. A third shop will open this summer inside the city — located just off the intersection of the city’s two major highways and less than a mile from the sports stadium complex where the Phillies, Eagles, 76ers and Flyers play.

With 70 employees on payroll and an eye toward the potential opening of New Jersey’s adult-use market and the expansion of Maryland’s medical program, the three friends says there are not satisfied with just three stores. They plan on “refining” the current model and then expanding the company footprint.

“Expansion is the name of the game from there,” Francis says.

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