Born in Pennsylvania and raised in the east, Susan Chicovsky was spiritually called to be a healer back in the late 60s and hasn’t looked back. By the early 80s, she decided to go back to school to pursue her calling in alternative healing and medicine. The Denver Post did a story on her and her passion for helping others, then her healing business took off as she raised two adopted daughters as a single mom.
Susan followed a straight forward business plan. In her pursuit of her primary business goal of providing service to others, she would never miss a sick day and still maintains a private healing practice.
In the fall of 2010, as the cannabis industry took hold in Colorado, a friend asked her to consider starting a dispensary with his investment funds…but Susan decided that that path wasn’t for her.
Another friend suggested she go into cultivation, harvesting and trimming. Six years later, and Green Mountain Harvest (GMH)—the business she started—is thriving and growing as she continues to employ the basic business strategy of supplying hand trimming and related service to others. For GMH, this means growers and processors or vertically integrated operations in Colorado.
Setting Industry Standards
From the outset, Susan intended for her company to meet or exceed Marijuana Enforcement Division compliance regulations. GMH was a pioneer in setting standards and best practices. As an advocate for clean meds and clean grows, GMH works closely with the Governor’s office and the Department of Agriculture to learn and share best practices, such as using food grade brown butcher paper and gloves to create a sterile trimming environment. She points out that having a clean environment in the trim area is as important as maintaining a clean grow.
The GMH teams use hydrofarm sheers and trimmers bring their own OSHA approved tool boxes to perform their craft, as required by the Division of Labor. While GMH trimmers provide both wet and dry services, they established a daily goal of one pound of dried cannabis or a minimum of 5,000 grams of wet.
GMH provides workman’s comp insurance for staff, which is provided by Pinnacol Assurance of Colorado. They practice preventative health with employees by providing training and exercises that help them deal with and avoid potential carpal tunnel, and neck and back issues caused by the repetitive motions experienced when hand trimming over the course of a day-long shift.
Cannabis Trimming Business
The cannabis trimming business is probably the least glamorous job at an integrated operation and many companies have decided to outsource to companies like GMH that will either hand or machine trim their products. They may also purchase high volume trimming machines and employ teams to operate them. Trimming is a high volume, low margin business that depends on man hours to make a decent living; however, trimmers are paid between $10 to $15 bucks an hour.
Trimming has become extremely competitive in Colorado, and GMH has had its share of issues with retaining employees that (in some cases) have left to form competitive businesses that are operating illegally, according to the Department of Labor. She estimates that there are 4 or 5 legitimate competitors that comply with workman’s comp, withholding taxes and social security requirements, but there are at least twice that number in the form of off-the-book companies that are undercutting legitimate players like GMH.
To supplement man-hours for trimmers, GMH also provides other services like cloning, cleaning, and even joint rolling.
Since launching the business in 2010, GMH has seen its gross revenues grow organically by 65% annually from $250,000 to over $1,800,000 in 2015. Susan tells CBE that she is pursuing an aggressive growth strategy and plans to expand the company by as much as 300% in 2016.
They are diversifying into hemp and expanding into Oregon (dedicated GMH services); as well as Washington, Nevada, and California with their corporate package, which is a licensed business opportunity, much like a franchise. Additionally, Susan is looking for a good partner and new investment capital as she pursues her growth strategy. She wants to see a GMH in every legal state!
Even though she has experienced some bumps along the way, Susan’s commitment to providing great services based on best practices that meet and exceed her client and regulatory expectations and requirements, has driven impressive revenue growth and CBE expects to hear more about GMH into the future.
Company Name: Green Mountain Harvest
Year Founded: 2010
Ownership structure/operating entities: Incorporated in Colorado
Owner/CEO: Susan Chicovsky
Management Team: Jennipher Hensen, Chad Feezel, Renee McKamey, Terri VonFeldt
Headquarters: 494 N. Sheridan Blvd. Suite C201, Lakewood 80226
Industry Segment/Category: Events/Networking Harvesting and Trimming, we also garden, clean whatever the jobs need
Current Markets/States Served: Colorado
Current Number of employees: 70
Market Strategy/Goal: To triple the company within 6 months
2014 Revenues: $1,068,411.48
2015 Revenues: $1,797,990.86
Expansion Plans: Oregon, Washington, Nevada
Financing Strategy: Seeking new investors