A little bit of Cuba has come a long way: G FarmaLabs
One of the great things about my job is the number of hardworking, risk taking, visionary entrepreneurs that I literally get to interview every day.
They share the stories of their successes and failures and are incredibly transparent in what they reveal to CBE Press in hopes of gaining attention for their company’s products and services — and the pleasure they have felt and experienced in their desire to live the American dream.
And yes, the Cannabis Industry is just the place to find folks like Ata Gonzalez and his wife Nicole, partners in life and in business as the CEO and COO of G FarmaLabs Limited & The Holdings Company and, just as importantly to them, their five (5) children.
This story starts with a boy who immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba in 1979 with his family a year before the Mariel boatlift. His father, a restauranteur, brought the family here because of the freedom and opportunity the U.S.presented. The boy grows to be his own man and marries another Cuban immigrant whose family’s heritage included blending the tobacco that goes into making those famous Cuban cigars. The man and his wife have success in real estate only to lose it all in a failed music industry venture that just about wiped them out.
With five (5) kids to provide for, a family friend encourages the couple to move out west and see for themselves the money being made in the emerging legal medical Cannabis Industry, so they travel to San Diego, then to Humboldt County, and in 2009, joined a collective to learn the cannabis cultivation and wholesale business. After a while, they leased 7 acres, complete with a barn and a home, and the inexperienced farmers formed their own farm and collective, the beginning of G FarmaLabs, and began growing their first outdoor crop that consisted of 99 plants grown from clones.
Hiring great managers is something Ata takes pride in. After the first yield, he hired a manager and rented another farm. Then he hired a manager at the new farm and rented a third. Eventually, Ata and Nicole had a nice collective of four farms in and around The Emerald Triangle.
As novice growers, they only yielded about a pound of flowers a plant but it was enough for them to reinvest, learn from their mistakes and begin to perfect their growing techniques and more than double their yield to 2 1/2 lbs. a plant with their second crop. Ata also attended Oaksterdam University to learn the ins and outs of the medical cannabis trade. Today they continue making sure the yields keep growing more and more…
With every dime going back into the business, G FarmaLabs began to grow adding acreage on additional farms and eventually invested in building out two retail stores in Southern California where they could distribute their product and create their own mix of infused products. The ebbs and flows of local political challenges and the constant federal raids and store closures eventually led them out of the retail business and they focused on the production and processing activities that G Farmalabs is now known for.
Along the way, Ata and Nicole grew as many as 120 different strains but eventually settled on 7, consisting of Indicas and Sativas and blends that can be mixed to create Hybrids and over 300 blends. G FarmaLabs is positioned to become one of the leading companies in the cannabis space, with 40 plus employees including in-house scientists, and an expanding array of some 50 products ranging from vape pens to 20 flavors of infused chocolate edibles. The core strength of their businesses are the collective farms and the CO2 extraction gear they have invested in with both Eden Labs and Waters Corporation.
With a new sales team in place (including pros hired from the Pharma industry), Ata expects California sales to grow, as G FarmaLabs products are currently carried in some 500 California dispensaries. They recently began raising $5 million through a private California-only offering.
Their goal is to take the G FarmaLabs brand national by selling the company’s marijuana-infused chocolates, cannabis oils and vape pens in numerous medical and recreational cannabis states across the country. They are in the process of rolling out the Liquid Gold products in Washington through a licensing agreement that they signed last summer, and sales will begin recently. Plans in Washington call for a 21,000 square foot outdoor and a 21,000 square foot greenhouse grow.
They are also in conversations to enter the Colorado market and plan to be active in Nevada in the future.
The year 2015 is shaping up to be a big one for the Gonzales’ and G Farmalabs. They have come a long way since moving west to join the Green Rush. They are adding to their intellectual property mix, they are in the planning and permitting stages of building an 80,000 square foot greenhouse and 10,000 square foot head house to centralize their operations in CA that can produce 80,000 lbs. of flower a year with a planned launch date of mid-2016, and they are constantly refining their national brand strategy to challenge Bhang, Dixie, Kiva and any others with national ambitions.
The Gonzalez’s have astutely moved on to building “The Holdings Company” (THC). This entity controls all the intellectual property, packaging and territories associated with all G FarmaLabs brands. The future will tell how this success story plays out.
GFarmaLabs Limited a Nevada Corporation
The Holdings Company a Nevada Corporation
Year Founded: November 2013
Ownership Structure: Private & Non-Profit California Company Incorporated in California
Management Team: Ata Gonzalez, CEO & Nicole Gonzalez, COO
Headquarters: San Rafael, California
Industry Segment/Category: Producer and Processor
Current Markets/States Served: California
Current Number of employees: 40-50
Market Strategy/Goal: G FarmaLabs strive to provide access to safe, effective and affordable medicines and related health care services to the people who need them.
2014 Revenues: $4 million+
Current Product Mix: Liquid Gold Extracts, Vape, Chocolate Bars, GSTIKS, fine cultural accessories, and other emerging bi-products
Expansion Plans:Licensing Territories in WA, CO, NV and IL
Financing strategy: To date from operations and seed capital plus private offering to California investors
Key Partnerships: Creating operation manuals for future territories