The growth strategy for Deep Roots Harvest, a cannabis company based 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, has been similar to the growth trajectory of the plants it cultivates.
“Slow and steady growth,” marketing manager Sam Steinborn said. “That’s what we’ve been building here.”
That steady growth, though, is about to kick into high gear.
While the company has dispensary locations at its headquarters on the outskirts of Mesquite and in Elko County, it has plans to open four more stores in the coming months, including one this spring in North Las Vegas.
It’s part of an expansion strategy that had been in place for over two years, but has been delayed not only by the pandemic but also over industry uncertainty regarding a lawsuit. In 2019, a number of cannabis companies that failed to secure the state licenses needed to open a dispensary location sued.
“We were awarded five licenses in 2018,” said Jon Marshall, chief operating officer for Deep Roots. “Things were a little delayed, so you could say we’re finally getting the opportunity to open those locations.”
If all goes according to plan, the North Las Vegas dispensary location, which is along Craig Road near the Cannery, could open before May 1, Marshall said.
Deep Roots also has plans for a dispensary in northwest Las Vegas at the location formerly occupied by a Dollar General store near Jones Boulevard and Cheyenne Avenue. Construction on that property is expected to begin in July, Marshall said.
The other three dispensary locations are slated for the Clark County jurisdiction, near the Silverton, in Reno, and in Henderson, though city officials there still need to grant regulatory approval.
Deep Roots has about 230 employees, but that number will grow as the year goes on.
Some dispensaries depend largely on business from tourists. Deep Roots, Marshall said, will be more focused on locals at its new stores.
“It’s been a challenging year for the Las Vegas market with the pandemic,” Marshall said. “There’s been a pinch on that market, but everything is starting to open up now. We know that places like Planet 13 and Essence do a great job with the tourism market; we’re going to focus more on the repeat local customer. We want to get into the community.”
Except for April and May last year—when the state was in the middle of the coronavirus crisis and numerous business shutdowns were ordered—Deep Roots has seen steady sales growth, Marshall said.
“We recovered nicely last summer and into the fall,” he said. “This spring, it’s been kind of off to the races.”
Partly an effort to ramp up production ahead of its multiple openings, Steinborn said Deep Roots has tentative plans to pour more than $1 million into renovations of its lab and “kitchen” spaces in Mesquite.
David Franco, who oversees the company’s grow operation in Mesquite, said he’s more than ready for the planned ramp-up.
A 12-year veteran of the cannabis industry, Franco took a flier on a position with Deep Roots five years ago because the cost of living was too high in Colorado and he had family in Mesquite.
Today, he oversees nearly three dozen employees. It’s not uncommon to find Franco moving along the rows of plants with a pruner in one of the company’s “flower rooms” on a Sunday.
Franco is the brains behind the finished product, cannabis strains with names like “Gorilla Goo” or “Fortune Cookie” or “Pop Tart.”
Steinborn likes to call Franco the “mad scientist.”
“I think the industry is better regulated here in Nevada than in Colorado,” Franco said. “I’ve noticed that, and it’s a good thing. I love doing what I do and I love working here—I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
In addition to the traditional smokable cannabis strains, Deep Roots also manufactures and sells edibles like gummies, lozenges and even taffy products, along with CBD offerings.
Some of the company’s brands—like Helix Gummies and Cheeba Chews—are sold wholesale at non-Deep Roots dispensaries.
“I think the cannabis industry in general is seeing a lot more exposure,” Marshall said. “You’re seeing a lot of new markets come online. Legislation recently passed in New York, so there was a lot of exposure there. I think we’re going to see a lot more growth in the industry as a whole.”