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First in, First to Profit: Ms. Mary’s Staffing

By Rob Meagher

As the son of a nurse and her educational programming husband, Stephen Sullivan grew up in rural Alabama and learned the meaning of hard work on his grandfather’s chicken farm that sold over 60,000 birds to Perdue’s local operations annually. At the tender age of 13, Stephen would leave after school each day and head over to the coops to run the ground operations doing a job that would qualify for Mike Rowe’s Somebody’s Gotta Do it show on CNN.

Over the next several years, before graduating from the University of Alabama-Birmingham, the hard working young man worked in a variety of jobs including selling shoes and sports apparel at a local retailer, working in construction, and interning at power plants while pursuing his degree in engineering with a minor in steveToday, at the slightly less tender age of 28, Stephen is the sole proprietor of Ms. Mary’s Staffing LLC, one of the fastest growing Recruitment, Staffing and PEOs (Professional Employer Organizations) serving the Cannabis Industry with a full suite of solutions to meet their HR needs. The Ms. Mary’s name originated from Mary Jane, and it represents more of a formal address which is appropriate because they are an employment agency.

Stephen got his start in the staffing industry working as an engineer for an IT staffing company before moving to Colorado and launching in 2014. He spent a year planning the launch, which would initially focus on the staffing and recruitment needs of licensed producers, processors and retailers in Colorado, and he will tell you that the first couple of months were feast or famine. He did, however, recognize quickly that the demand for payroll services were extreme and Ms. Mary began offering that service in September.

Payroll represented a low margin opportunity to get his foot in the door and was the impetus to establishing an installed base that would call on Ms. Mary to provide additional HR services. And besides, the big national payroll providers like ADP and Paychex weren’t interested in serving the Cannabis Industry.

Stephen tells CBE that they are on pace to generate revenues in excess of $7.5 million in Colorado alone. Ms. Mary’s is currently launching services in Oregon and Nevada and has plans to enter Illinois later this year.

Ms. Mary’s has a number of Colorado-based competitors like THC Staffing, Green Mountain Temps, and Hemp temps, but offers a broader list of services that has fueled their growth.

The majority of Ms. Mary’s growth has occurred through word of mouth referrals. Stephen has relationships with a large numbers of business brokers (insurance, Payroll, leading PEO providers) that don’t serve the cannabis space and consultants that help with the licensing application process. Ms. Mary’s has provided service to some 37 clients through 2015 with 20 or so utilizing their PEO offerings.

He has added a benefits services option to his mix, partnering with Blue Cross Anthem and other supplemental insurance providers to supply workmen’s compensation and other ancillary insurance products. Until the middle of 2015, the majority of their transactions have involved cash, so to manage the liability that comes with that, he has employed the services of Blue Line Security and Garda in Colorado. Like everyone else in the Cannabis Industry, Ms. Mary’s has suffered from the lack of adequate banking services and has been fortunate lately to have established a relationship with a reliable provider.

As Ms. Mary’s continues to expand and grow into states that have implemented medical or recreational marijuana laws, Stephen is open to outside financing or potential partnerships to facilitate growth.

He is benefiting from his first mover entry into the industry and plans on continuing to do so to keep up his impressive revenue growth. He is in the game to provide superior services and seems to have found a great formula for success.

Company Name: Ms. Mary’s Staffing LLC

Date Founded: 2014

Ownership Structure: Private Company Incorporated in Colorado

Management Team/CEO: Stephen Sullivan

Headquarters: Denver, Colorado


Industry Segment/Category: Recruiting and Staffing, Payroll, Staffing and Human Resources Solutions provider nationwide.

Current Markets/States Served: Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, Staffing Nationwide in all legal states

Current Number of employees: 5 internal, >500 leased

Market Strategy/Goal: Become the preferred industry payroll provider

Marketing promotion: Very little to date, mostly has grown organically by word of mouth referrals, and brokers.

2015 Estimated Revenues: $ 7.5 million

Expansion Plans: Expand to states (Illinois soon), implementing statewide medical and recreational regulations

Financing strategy: Bootstrapped, business line of credit for working capital. Will consider taking on investors or going public to finance future state-by-state expansion.

Rob MeagherRob Meagher

Rob Meagher

Rob Meagher, CBE’s Founder, President and Editor-in-Chief is a 30 year veteran of the media world. His career has spanned from stints representing the Washington Post, USA Weekend, Reader’s Digest, Financial World & Corporate Finance to the technology world where he worked at International Data Group and Ziff Davis where he was part of the launch team for The Web Magazine, Yahoo Internet Life, Smart Business and Expedia Travels before starting his own marketing and Publisher’s Representative Firm. He also ran all print and online media sales and marketing for the Society for Human Resource Management before partnering with Forbes and then Fortune to create Special Sections covering a variety of topics. Rob, who started CBE Press in 2014, can be contacted at [email protected]

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