Chief Science Officer
Santa Fe, NM
My wife and CEO Brianna started High Five as a licensed processing company in New Mexico, the first thing we did was secure a commercial kitchen on the back of a defunct restaurant, thinking that would work since restaurants are required to have their kitchens approved by the state before they open. But there were some very critical things that were not considered that summer, like heating for the coming winter.
Our extraction method utilized extreme cold, as in cryogenic. Working with alcohol at minus-125 degrees, in the dead of winter on a concrete floor, you get chilled to the bone and stay that way until you can get home and take a bath. We tried to get the 40-year-old overhead heaters working, but the parts required were no longer being manufactured. We called the landlord for help. He suggested that we turn on the burners of the commercial stove.
We explained that we really needed the heat to work and that an open flame with flammable vapors was not the best idea; he suggested we stop complaining.
What happened next was the unfolding of a few lessons. First, it’s important to read — REALLY READ — your lease and look for the usage clause. We thought that since we didn’t have heat we could withhold the rent. Because we didn’t deeply read through the lease we didn’t realize that the landlord was within his right to lock us out. The only solution to a degrading situation was to either give up on the business and go back to Corporate America or relocate to a new facility. I like pot too much to go back to IBM so we went in search of a new location.
That brought us to our next lesson: Don’t needlessly limit yourself. At first, we were set on owning a building, believing that would protect us from future landlord issues. We nearly bought one facility but then were snaked out by a higher bid at the last moment, which was actually a thankful turn of events since we were able to leverage the sellers guilt to secure a better spot that we could rent long-term with all the right zoning and room for expansion.
Now we have been in our new facility for just over a year and are about to start a five-figure electrical upgrade. The facility’s electrical infrastructure was fine for where we were a year ago, but we knew that as we grew we would have to add capacity and this facility was set for growth.