Living the Dream: Shawn DeNae

Shawn DeNae
CEO
Washington Bud Company
Smokey Point, WA

We are finally experiencing a predictable flow of production cost of goods needs, thanks to months of consistent sales figures. We have data on what strains sell best where and in what weight of packaging. I can predict how many rounds of pre-roll cones we’ll need to meet orders. I can project how many rolls of labels need printed, how many pre-roll tubes, the number of one-gram, eighth, quarter-ounce and full-ounce bags we need to keep up with the demand and not run out prematurely.

We had it dialed in … until the COVID-19 virus hit China and then the world.

It is really discouraging that we had to turn to China for our packaging. The vast majority (if not all) of packaging companies send their orders to China for production. I have yet to find a U.S.-based packaging company to do the custom options I designed for our line of packaged flower. Other options made in the U.S. were at least triple the cost without the features I want. In the highly competitive Washington market, triple packaging costs just do not pencil.

Prices have still increased since the import taxes have risen. I ordered six months’ worth of our smallest and middle-sized bags in late 2019, thank goodness. (We hesitate to order a full year’s worth since the packaging and labeling rules have changed so frequently in the past that we are gun-shy to over-order.)

In the February 2019 issue of Marijuana Venture, I crowed about finding decomposable pre-roll tubes to replace the non-recyclable plastic ones. But they also come from China and we are on our last 1,000 tubes. I placed the order in early January to be ahead of the Lunar New Year but, as of early March, the tubes have yet to be produced, much less shipped.

I am told the factories have very few people working in them and orders are backed up for much larger companies than ours. I doubt we will be first in line when China gets back up to production speed. To think they may be demanding younger workers to come in to fill orders makes me feel absolutely crummy for contributing to the support of Chinese manufacturing over elusive USA-made packaging.

When the order does finally show up, do we quarantine them for long enough that the virus could not possibly survive on the surfaces?

So, what to do? Don’t sell pre-rolls? They are about a quarter of our business so that’s not an option.

Start over? Find another source with stock in the United States? Redesign? Pay premiums for expedited turnaround? Plus, an increased cost of packaging brings up the real-world topic of increasing our prices so that our margins remain intact.

What to do? We’ll figure it out, like we always do. It’s our best option to keep those in need full of Washington Bud Company weed!

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