Building a cutting-edge American business on time-honoured values
Inventor-entrepreneur, Cullen Raichart believes the future of manufacturing is right here in America. His harvesting solutions are industry-born for the legal cannabis market. Promoting talent, innovation and humility, the tight-knit team at GreenBroz flourishes within the highly structured company. CEO Cullen took a moment from riding in the Nevada desert to talk to us about the keys to his success.
Heads Lifestyle: What is GreenBroz?
Cullen Raichart: GreenBroz, Inc. is a harvesting solutions company focused on cannabis and hemp. We design and engineer equipment and automated solutions for the industry. We like to push the edge a little bit. We want to create machine technology that will stand the test of time, and that will help the industry move into the future.
HL: Tell us about the GreenBroz company culture? It’s been described as a tight-knit family. How does valuing each employee translate into a positive work environment and successful business?
CR: I learned through my time in corporate America that many people who have valuable things to contribute get lost or overlooked. I wanted to have a company that sees everyone as having potential to move and grow in the directions that they are passionate about, and to recognize each person’s talents and strengths. This approach helps us to be innovative as a company, and what’s good for people is ultimately good for business.
We want to create machine technology that will stand the test of time, and that will help the industry move into the future.
HL: Is gender equality important to you?
CR: Very important. Gender equality and human equality are both very important to me. We have a diverse, strong team with wages being based solely on performance.
HL: Prior to founding GreenBroz, you worked as an engineer at Hewlett-Packard. That’s a pretty big jump. Why take that leap of faith and risk everything on a start-up, especially in such a Wild West industry?
CR: I really felt stifled by corporate culture. I like to work hard and be done. Corporate wants you sitting around keeping seats warm. I grew up in a small business family and always wanted to start a business. I am also an inventor and couldn’t think of a better way to get my inventions into the world, so it seemed logical.
The GreenBroz Sorter sorts cannabis flower into as many as seven user defined sizes at a rate of over one pound per minute.
HL: Why cannabis? It seems like a departure from your previous path?
CR: I was growing as supplemental income, and I saw the massive need for equipment specifically designed for the industry. We refer to our equipment as “industry born.” Our machines and equipment are designed and built to process cannabis and hemp, and not tweaked or re-purposed from another related industry.
HL: As a veteran of the United States Armed Forces, who served with the Navy in the Gulf War, can you tell us how that experience informs your entrepreneurial decision-making?
CR: The biggest takeaway from my time in the Navy was the importance and value of structure. Having a well-thought-out structure and workflow saves a lot of time, and is also safer when you are working around machinery. I also noticed that everything functioned smoothly when team members respected their commander and believed in the mission. We talk a lot at our production facility about not just the design process, but also the “why” behind what we do. I also try to be accessible to all team members, so everyone’s ideas are being heard. I am always looking for opportunities to let people grow. Sometimes you hire someone for one position and find out a few months later that they are really talented in another area. I try and pay attention to people’s strengths and to put them in positions that let them excel. In the military this was not always done, and I felt it was a missed opportunity.
Our machines and equipment are designed and built to process cannabis and hemp, and not tweaked or re-purposed from another related industry.
HL: You are committed to providing work opportunities for veterans. Tell us about this?
CR: I love the Veteran community. A lot of people had a very similar experience to the one I had. A lot of vets understand the value of structure in work, but they also love their freedoms. It’s been difficult for me to hear all the stories of struggle over the years from vets, and I feel it’s my duty to support fellow vets whenever I can.
HL: What does “American Made” mean to you? Why the commitment to American manufacturing when outsourcing overseas could prove more profitable?
CR: I feel fortunate to be a part of what I would call the American Renaissance in manufacturing. So many people here in the U.S. have been struggling in the manufacturing sector, and I want to support the American worker. It just makes sense to me on a deep level.
Behind the scenes at the GreenBroz headquarters in Las Vegas, Nevada.
HL: You place a lot of emphasis on the importance of relationships in business, especially in the cannabis space. How is the cannabis industry different from others?
CR: The business was built on trust due to the underground nature of the industry. We had to work really hard to earn that trust, and we take that very seriously. It’s like a stranger who invites you into their home. We need to earn that invitation. So, in that respect it has been a bit different, but going forward as the industry matures it will likely mirror similar industries. Relationships are super important. We work closely with our customers, and want to maintain the kind of relationship where they can call on us anytime for any kind of assistance they might need.
HL: You talk about sharing your American Dream with others. Where did your generosity of spirit come from?
CR: A commander I worked under in the military was very plugged in and generous with his time. He made an effort to really know the people who worked under him. I saw firsthand how this translated to a higher functioning team, and it just seemed like the right approach to me. People are your most valuable asset. Invest in them and you will reap the rewards. If I see an employee really excelling and struggling to pay for college, to take that next step, I will help when I can. I also value a good work ethic and creativity. Sometimes creativity and being able to think outside the box is more important than a degree. If I see someone who clearly knows how to problem-solve, works hard, and is an innate innovator, I want to invest in them.
The business was built on trust due to the underground nature of the industry. We had to work really hard to earn that trust, and we take that very seriously.
HL: Many cannabis growers and producers offer special programs for veterans who rely on medical cannabis for their physical and mental health. As a veteran yourself, does this inform your business decisions?
CR: Absolutely. We have always supported the Vet community by offering vet discounts and support in their business-building efforts. I think it is important to give back to those who gave and risked so much for our benefit. I see it as a duty and a responsibility.
HL: Can compassion and generosity be part of a successful business model?
CR: For me it has to be. We can’t do things for free, and we are in the business of making a profit and supporting our team members. It is important to have humility. For me the business is everything. It’s very much wrapped up in my whole lifestyle and my feelings on equality, opportunity, and doing what’s right. I can’t separate those things.
The Precision Batcher, powered by GreenBroz Premium Partner, Green Vault Systems, is capable of producing 800 to 1,000 packages per hour.
HL: Is cannabis just another agricultural product like all others or does it speak to your personal lifestyle?
CR: We are equipment focused. I am a machine guy. That’s my expertise. That being said, I absolutely see the benefits that have come from cannabis. I see how it helps the vets who suffer from PTSD and other conditions. I see how valuable it is versus opiates, and helps so many people suffering from a wide range of issues. Personally, topicals have helped me a great deal with pain from a motorcycle accident. Cannabis and CBD targets pain and inflammation with zero negative side effects. Intelligent cannabis use can be part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s odd the amount of time and energy that has gone into debating its benefits.
HL: Your thoughts on legalization and medical cannabis?
CR: It’s long overdue. It’s interesting to watch the politics. As people who make laws start to profit, the laws come quicker.
HL: When it came to selling your first trimmers, you’ve stated that one of your greatest obstacles was turning “machine sceptics into believers.” This is also true of legalization—sceptics need to become believers in order to remove the stigma and recognize cannabis as a useful plant. Why do you think people fear change?
CR: It’s a fight against moral beliefs. Those ingrained beliefs that say something is right or wrong. Those things are seldom changed by mere rationale. It takes firsthand knowledge to change deep conviction. You can believe one thing and I believe another. That won’t change until I experience something that helps me see your side. The biggest problem we have is that intolerance keeps us blind to compassion and the ability to change. With moral judgements, we often don’t even know why we believe what we believe.
Intelligent cannabis use can be part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s odd the amount of time and energy that has gone into debating its benefits.
HL: What kind of kid were you growing up? Were you the boy who took everything apart and then tried to rebuild it? Did you drive your parents nuts?
CR: Yes, I am sure I did! I was that kid who took everything apart, even things that were not broken and did not need fixing. I see things in terms of connections and how things fit together. I still take everything apart. It’s just how my brain works. I need to see all the parts laid out in front of me, and then I can see the bigger picture and come up with new ideas.
HL: What are your passions? What do you do to relax?
CR: What does relax mean? I go after all my passions with the same amount of energy and drive. Whether it’s my business or motorcycle riding—which is my favourite way to blow off steam—I tend to go full-tilt. My main passions are my family, my business, and riding. Relaxing means being in a flow state, whether it’s a physical challenge or a mental equipment design challenge. When you’re in that state where you are embracing who you really are and going with it, that’s when you’re in it, and it’s not stressful because you are embracing your true self.
A motorcycle ride in the Nevada desert is Raichart's favourite way to blow off steam
HL: Who inspires you?
CR: My stepdad, who adopted me. I have always admired his work ethic. He was an incredibly hard worker, and I think he is in large part responsible for the way I go hard toward whatever goal I’ve set out for myself. I am grateful for that lesson.
HL: If there is one word that comes up time and again in your discussions, it’s humble. This is not a typical buzzword in our success-driven society. Why is humility so significant to you?
CR: Humility is the recognition of who I really am. I am so small and insignificant in relation to the planet, solar system, the galaxy... you know? I mean the moment I think I am somebody; I get a solid reminder that in the grand scheme of things I am really not. It keeps me grounded and striving for more.
I think when you love the job you’re doing and it keeps you challenged and engaged intellectually, there is not as much need to escape it.
HL: As an entrepreneur how do you balance work with family life? As a family man, what are your hopes for the next generation?
CR: For me the lines are blurred between family life and work life. It’s just the way I live. I love everything I do, and it’s all intertwined to some degree. I put the same effort into everything I do. I think when you love the job you’re doing and it keeps you challenged and engaged intellectually, there is not as much need to escape it. My hope for the next generation is that they have the opportunity to do the work they are passionate about, and to thrive in their work lives and personal lives. It’s up to us to leave them that world of possibility.
HL: What’s next for GreenBroz?
CR: We are continuing to push innovation and automation for the industry and looking for partners to go along the road with us. We are currently nearing completion of a complete end-to-end automated system that will revolutionize harvesting, and make it possible for producers to scale up to increase efficiency and profitability. I like to think we are a “solutions” company. I love the challenge of coming up with solutions, and will continue to push the design and technology forward, and I’m looking forward to seeing what new challenges we’ll encounter in the next few years. I love a good challenge.
Lear more about GreenBroz at: greenbroz.com
And follow them on Instagram at: @greenbroz_inc