The first thing I noticed about Nancy Whiteman, co-owner of Wana Brands, was her straightforward no-nonsense way of communicating.
Others that I know have expressed that Nancy is one tough cookie, but I found her candor refreshing and spot on.
But make no mistake — Nancy and Wana Brands are a force to be reckoned with in the edibles and infused product category, and here is a little background as to why CBE feels that way.
First, I want to apologize to Nancy, because her company should have been included in the 2015 CBE Top 100 Producers, Processors, and Retailers list! With her products on the shelves of 90 percent of the dispensary shelves in Colorado, and expansion occurring in Nevada and Oregon in 2016, they will not only license their IP but also use their new management services arm to set up the kitchen and teach Wana manufacturing processes to achieve quality and consistency. In this capacity, Wana will be completely involved in other licensed operations and are actually staffing the new partner’s facilities.
Plans also call for expansion into other states; they are talking with potential partners in Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Florida, and in the not too distant future, each market may require a different approach to achieve the same results.
A passion for helping patients
Before founding/opening Wana in 2010, Nancy was a principal with The Whiteman Group, a sales and marketing consultancy, and previously held a range of senior level marketing and business development positions including Vice President, Marketing and New Corporate Ventures for the Paul Revere Insurance Group in Massachusetts. She always wanted to work in a product business and was driven by the business opportunity that the new and emerging Cannabis Industry presented.
Along the way, she also developed a passion for helping patients.
Not all things went smoothly in the initial years even though Nancy’s marketing, sales and product development skills would come in handy at Wana. They weren’t necessarily great preparation for the wild and woolly cannabis market in Colorado, which was (and still is) in a state of flux.
Wana wasn’t quite prepared for the constraints the market would place on them, and like other pre-vertical integration license holders, Wana went through its share of bad fits in partnering with others to produce the product that they needed to make, and distribute, infused products.
At Wana’s launch, Nancy had a partner with a grow license so Wana decided not to pursue their own. In retrospect, that created issues for supply and product quality that could have been avoided if they had pursued a grow license back in the early days. Today, they have multiple large grower partners to keep an eye on supply and to avoid pesticide problems, which has become a hot button issue in the industry.
However, she instinctively knew that success depended on the daily blocking and tackling required to run a business the right way, and consistency and quality control were areas of focus for Wana back then as they are now.
Shelf stable products
Nancy runs Wana’s sales and marketing efforts and is responsible for strategic partnerships and licensing agreements domestically and internationally. She also manages their finance and accounting departments and is responsible for the company’s strategic vision.
Co-owner John Whiteman leads operations and management of Wana Brand’s 23,000 sq. ft. Boulder production facility, overseeing an ever-growing staff of more than 90 employees. John also is responsible for the strategic vision of Wana Brands.
Co-owner Sean Best has been instrumental in handling the technical and production side of the business and was rewarded with an ownership stake as a result. He has led the company’s automation efforts as Wana constantly improves its manufacturing practices to comply with the never-ending state regulation updates (they currently have refitted machinery to stamp THC dosing markings on every product to comply, at the cost of $40-$50K!).
This philosophy has helped attract unbelievable employees (Nancy’s words!) like her Director of Operations Mica Gross.
Wana has three product lines:
- Wana Edibles;
- Wana Extracts; and,
- Wana Medicinals.
In addition, they have a created a line-up of delicious cannabis edibles with the product mix including Sour Gummies, Wana Rolls, Classic Caramels, Wana Jewels, Wana Hot Cocoa, and Cinnamints. New products include Wana CBD Rolls and Watermelon Sour Gummies.
With one of the largest facilities in Colorado, Wana’s extraction processes also produce all styles of vape oil and hash.
In addition to their wholesale concentrates, Wana Extracts also provides fee-for-service processing for medical and recreational centers who want to offer their customers vape oil made from their proprietary strains. New products include Wana CBD vape cartridges, which will allow consumers to experience the medicinal benefits of cannabis without the psychoactive effects of THC.
In partnership with Cannabics Pharmaceuticals, Wana has developed the world’s first extended release capsules, WanaCapsXR.
Many medical patients prefer not to inhale cannabis; others find the effects of edibles too strong. WanaCapsXR, which are available in three different ratios of THC and CBD, provide a stable, convenient and discrete option for patients who are looking for dosing alternatives.
The company is currently developing additional CBD products for the Wana Medicinals line, and High CBD WanaCapsXR are available for the adult-use market.
Getting on shelves
One of secrets Nancy shared about Wana’s success in getting their product on the shelves fits her straightforward approach to business. As she was leading the early charge to obtain dispensary distribution, Wana would replace products that weren’t selling with ones that would meet clients profit goals for their limited space.
The focus on quality and consistency has paid off thanks to her team’s persistence and follow-up and superb execution. It hasn’t hurt that they have won the hearts and minds of budtenders by providing training and Wana-branded swag and samples to the budtender community.
In Nancy’s spare time, she is heavily involved in helping shape a workable regulatory environment and is involved with several Colorado cannabis organizations. So as the title says, retail partners — “Straight Shooting Will Enhance Your Life: Wana Brands!”
Company Name: Wana Brands
Year Founded: 2010
Ownership structure/operating entities: Privately held
Owner/CEO E-mail address/Contact Information: Nancy Whiteman, [email protected]
- Nancy Whiteman, co-owner;
- John Whiteman, co-owner;
- Sean Best, co-owner.
Headquarters: Boulder, Colorado
Industry Segment/Category: Producer, Processor – MIP
Current Markets/States Served: Colorado; Nevada and Oregon in 2016
Current Number of employees: 90+
Market Strategy/Goal: To be a source for innovative and consistent MIPs in key marijuana markets. To become a national and international cannabis brand through partnerships with innovative partners
2014 Revenues: NA, Privately held, but Wana is available in over 450 of 500 Colorado dispensaries; They produce over 6,000 units a week in their 23,000 sq. ft. facility.
Expansion Plans: Wana Brands will launch in Nevada and Oregon in 2016. They are planning to expand domestically into key medical marijuana markets such as Maryland, Massachusetts, Florida, Georgia, New York, Illinois, Washington, California and Arizona. The company also has plans to expand internationally.
Financing strategy: Privately held