All Green Podcast Ep.14 -Michael Explores Lift & Co Expo Vancouver 2023
Michael: All right, all right, all right. This is Michael Ghazal from the All Green Podcast and Eco Four Twenty. I'm so excited because today I am doing a live walkthrough of a trade show. So I am here at Lift Vancouver. It's January, 2023. I'm really excited because I haven't done this show in three years because of Covid, because the issues revolved around that people didn't know if these trade shows would come back, if they would keep existing. I'm really excited that Lift and Co has gotten through all of those challenges of Covid, and they're back here again. There's a lot of passion in the air, there's a lot of excitement. You know, we've seen a lot of budtenders, a lot of stores here. It's a really great show. So I'm excited to be able to do a walkthrough of this whole show.
Michael: And I do apologize about if there's bad audio. I just have a little mic with me and there's a lot of background noise, but please enjoy all of the sight and sounds with me. So I'm just starting to walk through right now, and there's dozens of booths. Honestly, what's really cool is a lot of the booths have huge electronics, have giant screens that kind of explain their products, and you can tell the, the tens of thousands of dollars of investment that really goes into doing these kinds of shows. So it's really cool to see the industry is thriving. There's been a bunch of challenges, but people are still here. People are excited about the whole industry, and I'm super excited to be here. Some of the brands that, you know, we're walking through are - there's Integra, there's ADCANN, there's Kustom Kulture, a bunch of brands and people that we already know and have seen because they've been at amazing shows before too.
Michael: Lift has been going on for, I don't know how many years exactly, but at least seven or eight years. And even with some pauses and issues, they've still been going strong. So now it's actually owned by a company called MCI, which is a US based company. And what's cool about that is now there's a lot more resources for improving the show, for making this show better for customers, for stores and brands. Like you go for 20. So truthfully, Lift & Co was the first show I ever visited in Toronto. I visited, I think it was 2016 that I went to a show there. And, before I even had my product designed, I had broken samples, and I met a brand called Humble and Fume there who helped inspire me to keep going and keep developing my product.
Michael: I met dozens of other small businesses that I got to give my sample to and just show and say, "Hey, what do you think of this?" And getting that advice in an in-person situation is unbeatable. It's really cool to be able to meet other people who might be users in the industry, and you get to get their experience, you get to give, like, I would hand it to them and say, "What do you think of this product?" And it was really exciting to do that because you don't really get to do that on an average basis, for example. You don't get to see customers and really just get their real feedback. And I used the feedback there to really improve my product and really help push forward. So, we have a bunch of brands that do a bunch of different things too.
Michael: You know, there's extraction companies, there's packaging companies, there's companies that do products, there's a bunch of different growing medium companies, there's marketing companies. And I think what's exciting about Lift & Co for me is the fact that there's so many different categories. You don't realize how much there is in marketing. You don't realize how much there is in promotions. What's really cool is to be able to see these different industries and kind of walk through it all and be able to know that. So it's really exciting. Even though we just do accessories, I'm still able to talk to hundreds of people and be able to see, "Oh, you're an extraction company, but can I still give you my product for feedback?"
Michael: And so that was really exciting for me. And I know there's a bunch of people here who are able to get feedback and excitement for their own products that way. So, right now I'm walking in front of a booth that is called ADCANN. Now what's cool about them is they have an online marketing company and a great website and I hope to talk to them. So we'll see what happens when I go there and say hello.
Michael: So, hi guys. How are you? I would love to hear more about ADCANN and what are you guys doing here? How has the Lift show been for you?
Hannah: It's been pretty good, so, well this is Hannah from ADCANN. So ADCANN is the best online resource for industry marketing, and we think we do a pretty good job at it. So we're an online resource and we produce a yearly publication with a marketing guide for licensed retailers and LPs, as well as we host an award show each year highlighting the best in the industry marketing space. That's been kind of our pride and joy of ADCANN and really highlighting those who do it best in the industry, and learning from them and making sure that other people have access to that.
Michael: And they're tooting their own horn, but I will toot it for them because I really do love ADCANN. Just learning about the different kind of people in the industry who are writing amazing articles. I don't even read newspaper articles anymore. I only read websites and really educational places like you guys. And we were actually a finalist as well for one of the awards last year, I believe it was. But it's exciting that there's so many different categories. It really just goes to show how many different products there are in the industry. There's LPs, there's accessories, there's brands that are doing just eco-friendly stuff and then there's brands that are doing budget stuff and it's really cool. If I can ask, what is your favorite award or what is an award that you're looking forward to sharing this year?
Michael: I think, I know Katie from Marigold is one of them I believe as well. And it's just cool 'cause a lot of these people have been doing it for years, you know, for many of them it's like five years, seven years, it's like this is a marathon like this industry is just starting, but people are gonna be doing it for 20 years. I'm excited to see what ADCANN does to develop, what different awards and people will keep coming back year after year. hat's the thing is I knew about you guys from now over a year ago, but this is the second time we're doing the awards with you and everything. So it's just really cool to be a part of it and be nominated both times. We haven't won yet, but one day maybe we will try.
Hannah: Yeah, for sure. And you know, it's just about getting the word out there and making sure your followers and your loyalty base really can understand that. And there's just so many great companies out there, so it's hard, everyone who's nominated I wish we could all give them awards and have everybody win. But unfortunately, you know, it is a People's Choice Award, so everybody gets the choice to vote and it's like great that it's a community based thing. We have no say.
Hannah: I would say that there's two favorite awards. I guess they're kind of the same as we have the brand marketer of the year and the agency marketer of the year. And I think it's just really great to really individually pick out with those individuals who are really pushing these brands. It's great when we're able to highlight the full brand and the companies, but to really pick out those individual marketers themselves are definitely my favourite too. Just to get those people the recognition for all the hard work they specifically do for these brands.
Michael: They get to pick.
Hannah: Yeah, we have absolutely no say. So sometimes you see some brands and you're like, "You are all incredible," and it's hard. Sometimes by like the scale of two votes out of thousands of votes.
Hannah: On certain ones.
Michael: Oh, that's amazing to know.
Michael: And I think like we discovered you guys through social media and through that, you guys do amazing work on social media and that kind of promotions as well. So like that's how our customers were able to discover you guys too. So I just think you're doing amazing and thank you for just doing this interview as well.
Hannah: Yeah, no problem. Thanks so much.
Michael: That was Hannah from ADCANN and they also also have a really cool company called Greenhouse, that does like the marketing and consulting support. Is that true?
Hannah: Yeah, so Greenhouse is our marketing agency. It's our sister company from ADCANN founded by our CEO Cody Hicks. Greenhouse does a multitude of things. Not only do we do digital marketing, do Instagram, emails, we also do branding websites. Then we also do infield representations for the LP side of things. And then we've also got our event company Budbash, and we do budtender focused events. So we do those based out of Toronto.
Michael: And you've already done a couple successful ones already, so it's like the huge talk of the town for even weeks afterwards, so I think that's really cool.
Hannah: Oh, thank you so much. Yeah, we really enjoy that community and you know, budtenders specifically are an area in this industry where we don't really, we recognize them, but you know, they don't really get those events, these conferences are tailored more for that business side and those CEOs and the executives. But being able to do those budtender more focused ones gets the brands and the budtenders in a room where they can have an open conversation, try some product on the consumption patios and just have a good time and really communicate with one another.
Michael: And realize like they're not alone. There's hundreds of other budtenders going through the same problems, having the same issues. That's such a cool event to do it. I hope you guys keep doing more of them aswell.
Hannah: Yeah. And yeah, just with Greenhouse especially like, the reason why we love what we do is we are a team of ex budtenders. Every single one of our team members right now has been a budtender. So they know what it's been like, they know how to talk to LPs and retailers and you know, we've learned that it just shows where you can grow and move to in this industry. So it's really good community and a great space just overall great to work in.
Michael: That's amazing. And then it's such an inclusive environment that way because like, exactly. You've been right there as well. Thank you so much. And everybody you can check out Greenhouse or ADCANN, so thank you so much Hannah. I really appreciate it.
Michael: So that was ADCANN, I just walked by and it was really cool to have a short interview and just learn more about what they do. So now I'm just continuing my way along the show. There are pre-roll machines that are 20 feet big, like it's a huge machine. So that's, if you hear machine noise, they automatically create these rolls just looks like it's $10,000. I'll be honest, I have no idea how it even works and I don't even think I can explain it in an audio format, so we'll keep moving on, but just know that there's amazing products here.
Michael: But even just smaller ones, like there's the Puffco, if anybody's tried any good accessories from them, I think it's cool. They have this hot knife, they have electronic machines that are just high quality beyond belief. So I think that's really exciting that whether you're a product that's $200, $100, like there are customers who are excited about using your products. I've definitely found that some people are price conscious, but other people really want high quality over anything and they're willing to to do that. Another cool thing that they have here at Lift, I'm noticing, is just a lot of growing material and support for growers. One of the good brands that I know is called Xtreme Gardening and that's just 'cause I had a booth nearby them at the last Lift show. So I'm hoping to walk towards them and see if I could talk to anybody about what Xtreme Gardening does because I know they have a bunch of cool accessories before gardening. Um, I'm gonna say it wrong, but like microzoia things that will be able to help enhance your soil. And so I'm gonna walk by and see if we'll be able to connect with any of them.
Michael: Hi Randall, how are you? This is, uh, Randall from Xtreme Gardening.
Randall: How's it going? Doing well, doing well.
Randall: You know, Toronto was a lot larger. There's a lot more retailers out, but there's a lot of excitement here in Vancouver. There was a lot of people attending the actual show that I didn't think there would be this many people. So very pleasantly surprised and I think Vancouver's representing the show really well
Michael: And it's exciting. I've met some people from like much more northern BC too, so like they took like a three hour flight just to get here from the same province, which is crazy to me.
Randall: Yeah, a lot of people coming in off the islands too and a lot of people flying in off the coastal areas that I've talked to, taking the sea planes to get here, which is pretty freaking cool, also <laugh>
Michael: Has there been a lot of growers and people interested in like the growing medium?
Randall: Yeah, the entire first day of the show was for professionals. It was a great, great day. I think we met probably 12 LPs, several micro grows. We're extreme gardening, our products are in several of these places already. So it was great to meet and greet with people and old friends that I haven't seen in a few months. It's good exposure for those that haven't picked up the product yet to get moving on it. We've only been available in the country for about four months now, so it's still in the early traction phases of our product, but we're an established company that's looking to target those LPs and those micro grows that want to take a step a little bit more in the professional level like we're doing in the states.
Michael: How's the show been for you? This Lift Vancouver so how has it been Toronto vs Vancouver? What do you think?
Randall: I feel like a lot of the Canadian growers have a much more in-depth knowledge base that probably comes from specifically in the BC area that, you know, BC flower and the longer times through the black market days. And that led to a more knowledgeable gardener. Don't get me wrong, people in America are smart, you don't hit here and there I should say. But, everyone down there is motivated by different motivations. I feel like people up here are motivated by a pure product, a cleaner grow, a more professional setup, and at the same time still keeping that characteristics that this industry is built upon.
Michael: That's so awesome to hear and honestly I've used your products before I even met you and knew you and if you want high quality products, you should look at Xtreme Gardening, so I highly recommend them. And maybe you can tell me a bit about what your favourite product is here?
Randall: Yeah, our, our Mykos is definitely our mainstay. We're in 17 different countries, Canada being our 17th. We're internationally known people from Australia, the Middle East, North and South America, Japan and Asia, everywhere across the entire world there. The large cultivation, you know, growing countries are using our products already, and specifically our mycorrhizal, which is the most tried and true of our products most well known by far.
Michael: And how does it help, for example, let's say a person who's never done growing before, why could they use the product?
Randall: Essentially it's just as easy as taking a scoop of it, putting it in the bottom of your hole right before you do a transplant. Get direct root contact. What that does is it helps the initial spore rates propagate and spread throughout your entire soil basin. You're gonna get a 15 to even upwards of 30- 35% increase in roots mass, compared to not using any mycorrhizal at all. And everyone in this industry knows that more roots and bigger roots is bigger fruits. So, that's really the goal is if you're spending a lot of money in this industry, which you obviously can very quickly on nutrient lines and on\ feeding lines and on feeding regiments, the mycorrhizal will help you get more out of your existing line that you're already doing. It's not that you have to change your current setup to run it, rather it's something you add to, to increase benefit and yield throughout the entire mass.
Michael: And, and if you're gonna start, why not start strong, right? Like people do all those for weeks afterward. We'll be doing so many different nutrients like you said, and then they don't start strong, which is crazy.
Randall: And it's an easy quick application based first transplant. You can do it at any other transplants you want. It just comes down to how much you want to use, how often a transplant. But first and easy, right? Other than initial cutting phase and it's set for life. It's set for the life cycle of the plant.
Michael: I'm also just wondering for my own use, does it expire because I have bought this and the bag I probably had for like two years. Can you use it the second year or anything? Like I've never tried it.
Randall: So we have a three year expiration date on our bags. That being said, that is purely for practicing purposes. We have clinical testings that we have on every single one of our packaging. We make batches of our mycorrhzial. We keep a sample of that at our facility. So they're going back all the way to 10, 15, 20 years. We can test the batches and see how the effectiveness rate, the efficacy rates are still on them. All of those are still in the 90 percentile for efficacy rate over 10 plus years. That being said, it's very, very difficult with clinical testing to get that on a bag 'cause you have to show 10 plus years, you know, et cetera, testing.
Michael: You always want an expiry day for sure.
Randall: But so we put something around three years to make it a little more friendly for the bagging people. But at the end of the day, if you keep it in a safe, temperature controlled environment out of direct sunlight, you're talking upwards at 10-15 years <laugh>.
Michael: That's amazing. And I like that it's in a resealable bag. So, you know, I just take it out when I want to start the plants and it's very cool
Randall: For that, as small down for the hobby growers in the hundred gram pouches does as large for the commercial guys in the 50 pound sacks. And also do pallet tote sales that are several thousand pounds.
Michael: That's amazing. So everybody, I do highly recommend Xtreme Gardening. I'm gonna try to say it one more time 'cause I might say it wrong, but "micro incolutate"
Michael: You do a lot of sales in the US as well. Is there any differences, you know, between America growing and Canada growing or even just like their interests or products?
Randall: "Mycorrhzial inoculum"
Michael: There we go. Thank you so much, Randall. You've been amazing. I really appreciate it.
Randall: No worries. You have a good Michael.
Michael: Okay, have a great day. I know I say it wrong all the time, but it's such a complicated word, but, I highly recommend the product even when I couldn't say it. I've been using it for years myself, so it is a great product to use if you're just any kind of gardener. I've been growing tomatoes, I've been growing plants for years, but everything basil, I do put it in there for good strong root development. So another cool thing about Lift is they have a bunch of these- I wanna call them events or little booths that are budtender focused, but they're really just helping people, you know, have an experience rather than just talking to a booth.
Michael: So, for example, there's a glass blowing booth you can watch, you can engage with and you can connect with a glass blower who is making glass right in front of your eyes. I personally have never seen that only in shows, so I think it's really cool to see 'cause I usually only see it on Instagram. So I think that's really exciting. There's a bunch of different lounges as well. There's a budtender lounge for the budtenders to actually connect with each other. They have free cotton candy, they have games and I think that's what's exciting is just to show budtenders that they're not alone. There's so many other people in this industry and it's always great to connect that way. As we continue walking along, I just wanted to say there's literally I would say 200 booths here.
Michael: And so that's really exciting to see. I didn't even know it would be this big. It definitely is one of the premier shows in Canada, definitely in Vancouver, but all across Canada. It is the biggest and most well known. You can just see, I wanna say, millions of dollars of deals are getting through here, but, I really don't know exactly the numbers. I know we're doing a lot of deals in meeting a lot of store owners and managers. So it's always just a great way to connect with people in that sense.
Michael: Another cool thing that I've noticed about the show is, so I'm actually speaking at the show and they have a main stage which fits about 150 people. But imagine trying to ask a question in front of 150 people, it could be scary, it could be embarrassing or hard. And so what I really do like about Lift here is they have what's called brand stages. And so what that is it's literally I wanna say a 25 person seat theatre area where they would get people to do talks that are just very small and being able to connect in a much more local level because it's scary to ask a question in front of 150 people. I fully admit I don't like doing it myself, but if there's 20 people there, it's a lot more comfortable to ask a question and really get your answers. So I think that was very exciting for me anyways, to do.
Michael: One thing I find interesting and I'm not trying to discount some of the booths, but you can tell some booths spend their $10,000 on the equipment in the back, the signage, the lights. I know at some trade shows you have to pay $500 just for the electrical hookup. So I know the investment that these companies put in, but then there are quite a few smaller companies that have one banner, they have a table and they're just staying there for that reason. And I think it's interesting to see both of those different groups of companies, but I bet you both of those companies are still making great connections at this kind of show. So you don't need a huge booth to be having a good experience. And I think that is something that is important to small businesses. Not everybody can afford the $10,000- $15,000 cost, but some people can afford a much lower price and it's cool that Lift helps accommodate both of those brands there as well.
Michael: I'm walking by and I actually see somebody I know. So this is Kustom Kulture. They're a distributor from Winnipeg and right now they're at this booth, they're pretty busy. There's a lot of people 'cause it looks like they have a giveaway, which is a great way to kind of engage with people at these shows because then you can get their emails, you can connect in a much longer way. I'm gonna try to see if I can sneak in and maybe talk to somebody and, and meet them. So, um, I know Anthony <laugh>, let's see if Anthony is there
Michael: All right, this is Anthony. I did get in touch with him. There's a huge lineup for the giveaway, so I think that's already being successful right now. I mean that's so cool.
Anthony: We've got some great feedback going on. How's your day going, Michael?
Michael: It's been good. Honestly, walking around the show after three years has been exciting. It's like you didn't know if shows were gonna ever exist again.
Anthony: That's true.
Anthony: Absolutely. The amount of people wandering around this weekend is just amazing to see.
Michael: And it might be their first a show too, like quite a few people I met are like, "I've never been to a show before."
Michael: Everybody had to do shows with masks or no shows and it's just exciting to be able to come back to this again. You know?
Anthony: Oh, for sure.
Michael: So for sure you get to engage with budtenders and people from all walks of this industry.
Anthony: Absolutely. Lift is definitely doing some great things.
Michael: Yeah. So Anthony, tell me about Kustom Kulture. Like what is your, what is your spiel?
Anthony: What do we do at Kustom? Right on. So we've actually been around since 95, starting off as a local head shop in Winnipeg, Manitoba. A few of us had the privilege of taking over Kustom about three or four years ago now. So right now we're focused mainly on business to business supplying retailers with a variety of product accessories.
Michael: And you do it all across Canada. So if you're a store even in BC or if you're a store New Brunswick anywhere, you can supply to them and I think that's what's really cool about Winnipeg if I could say is you're the geographical centre of Canada, right? Like it's so close.
Anthony: Absolutely. Definitely being pretty much the centre of Canada helps shipping each way. So for us, we pride ourselves on the fulfillment side of things. So you can guarantee your order, we'll leave within about 48 hours, then it's up to the courier's hands to get their product to you.
Michael: And it's so important with stores because at least one thing I've noticed is stores don't have a lot of storage space. They literally are doing just on time inventory a lot or they'll message us saying, "Hey, we've been sold out for a week and we just are emailing you now," and then they expect it immediately.
Anthony: Absolutely. That's the probably the, the most common comment is stores that have to wait weeks and weeks and weeks for their order.
Anthony: So for us definitely have prioritizing that understanding. They might need to place an order every week or every couple weeks to maintain that flow of new accessories like the Eco Four Twenty that you brought to our market.
Michael: Not to brag, we are with Kustom Kulture, so if you do want to get our accessories and you don't wanna, you know, buy dozens of them, you gotta test it out at Kustom Kulture. So what's really cool about them is they do have a low minimum order.
Anthony: It's about $200 right now. So it's very reasonable for stores
Michael: And it's great because there's quite a few head shops around, quite a few licensed retailers that have a lower budget. They might not wanna buy thousands of dollars of accessories right away, but they still need to support their customers and really fill their store with beautiful products.
Anthony: Absolutely. And we believe in the whole good, better and best product model, right? So for us, catering to a variety of price points definitely keeps a lot of our customers happy and coming back.
Michael: That's awesome. And the repeat business must be great because once you have a great relationship with the store, why would they go anywhere else? Like they will just keep going back to you. So I bet you have a lot of great repeat customers.
Anthony: Absolutely. And as a benefit to the Lift crew here, we're also offering a $100 credit off your first order.
Michael: If anybody mentions you know, that they saw them at Lift or can they do it even like a couple weeks after or a week after, mention that they saw you at Lift?
Michael: That would be great because this won't be out right now, so I do it all day. It'll take a little bit of time to to produce, but tell us about this giveaway that you're doing and what people can win.
Anthony: Fantastic. So we've actually just featured our brand new Doodle glass to market, which is, your standard 12 inch beaker comes with a five pack of acrylic markers. So after you've kind of sit back and chilled, you have something to doodle on and enjoy yourselves with.
Michael: I've never seen this before.
Anthony: Other than that, a variety of other accessories, we got our glass grips.
Michael: I'll be honest, I don't even know what that is.
Anthony: So similar to what a bat grip tape would be. We've designed it for the neck of your glass. So if you look to customize your glass on top of the markers, you got a variety of options.
Michael: There's so many different ways and honestly, sometimes the logo makes it look ugly, I hate to say that, but like, you know, I get a nice glass bong and then it's just like this ugly logo all over the top of it. So to be able to have cool tape and just personalize it is beautiful.
Anthony: Absolutely. That's the biggest thing. Other than that, we got a box full of Eco Four Twenty's and replacement filters as well for giveaway. So if you're here at Lift.
Michael: Awesome. And I will also put the links like in the bio of this podcast episode. So thank you so much Anthony. I hope you have a great show as well.
Michael: Part of this $1,500 giveaway will become - like somebody will walk home with this, I think that's amazing. And they'll have to buy their own luggage to mail it back if they're from somewhere else, but that's a good one for them.
Anthony: Yeah, absolutely.
Michael: So if anybody wants to check them out, where can they visit you?
Anthony: Thanks, Michael.
Michael: It was so great to talk to Anthony. I've known him for just a little while. We actually met at a Lift Toronto event, I believe. And just as a result of that, being able to connect with him six months ago now, it's so cool to be able to just walk by and, see them still like that. I've only ever kind of emailed. So that's what's great about these shows is so many people are emailing back and forth with their business connections, with their friends in that way. But it's just something about seeing people face to face and being able to say, "Hello, how are you? This is my product." And being able to show people is just, it's night and day. If I may say, another cool company that I see here is called Dutchie. What's cool about Dutchie is they're like a software company. It just goes to show that when companies are investing in technology and in the future, that is what they're able to do rather than, other kind of shows. So I think it's really exciting that this is not only software you- Sir, thank you so much! Nice to meet you. This is Mendo Medicinal. They might have accessories soon. <laugh>, nice to meet you.
Michael: That was just a medical company that we know they're from Montreal and it's called Mendo Medicinal and it's just exciting. You get to walk by and get to see a bunch of people that you might know. So, you know, I did walk around Lift, it was about 30 minutes, but I did walk through all of the booths. I wasn't able to talk to all of the booths. There are hundreds of booths that I'm not even mentioning because honestly it's just too hard in an audio podcast as I do this walkthrough. But it was very exciting to be able to learn about Lift again, to be able to see some old friends and really just kind of engage with this industry. Again. It's been years. I'm super excited. I hope Lift, Toronto will become just as good or if not better. But it's exciting that Lift is back. It's exciting that conferences are back and it's exciting that people are able to hug each other again. So, that's been a great change of pace. So thank you so much for listening to the All Green Podcast. This was at Lift Vancouver in January, 2023, so it was very exciting for me and I hope it was enjoyable for you. Thank you so much and have a great day.