SLICE—Denver: Vangst Cannabis Job Fair


Vangst Cannabis Job Fair

Sometimes you have to throw a variable in to the mix. Shake the box. See if all those bits and pieces you got lying around can be re-configured in a productive manner.

Last week I got the bug and attended the Vangst Cannabis Job Fair in Denver.

The Vangst site ( bills itself as “The cannabis industry’s #1 recruiting resource.”

I’ve been a subscriber to their missives for about 2 years. And curious about this growing industry for the last 4 years.

I write it periodically as in these early posts from Arcaneword:

But outside of making contact with the people in the retail stores, I haven’t had any contact with owners or upper tier management in the cannabis industry as I did working with upscale grocers around the country in my previous project. I’ve found that there’s a certain amount of secrecy in this regard— totally understandable.


I’m also looking for a partner on a CBD, first-to-market, product line from Hemp, Cannabis’s kissin cousin…. so I thought …

Okay it’s a five-hour drive—a straight shot up 25 from Santa Fe—a trip I’ve taken dozens of times over the years for work and pleasure….

This is my variable.

The event was held at the EXDO Event Center on 35th St., bordering the Five Corners area of Downtown Denver. Like most of the older parts of the city the buildings are low…and the area’s quickly going through the same kind of make-over most of our desirable cities are going through which means: breweries, a distillery, a wine bar, restaurants…did I say breweries….

It wasn’t a huge hall but just right for the size of the event. The cannabis industry is still in its infancy—though it’s already larger than the magazine industry—so you don’t need the typical convention center size…yet.

This gathering reminded me of the early day of the Natural Foods Industry when it was “movement.”

Like the natural foods industry at that time the cannabis world appears to be driven by Enthusiasts, the hard-core lovers and consumers of all things cannabis. There were several speakers on various topics and it was clear they weren’t coming from a corporate background.

At the same there was a start-up vibe seen in the well-scrubbed faces of eager Millennial staffing the simple tabletop approach to the event.

Speaking about appearances. I have to say I was expecting a hall of Rainbow people—stoners basically. Was I wrong. Overall there was, to me, a kind of Midwestern aesthetic to people’s attire…

Most of the attendees looked like they walked out of their **bullshit jobs (the name of a new book by Debt’s author David Graeber) at the bank, phone company, telemarketer’s pit….

And I was surprised by the demographic profile. There were quite a few over 40 and even in their 60s.

Regarding the boomers. After listening to one owner of cannabis company make pointed references in his talk to ….just showing up on time (and not after you’ve had a dab or two) I came away thinking that Baby Boomers could be a valuable addition to the cannabis companies.

(“schwag” from the show–one lighter has a tamping device for rolling/smoking)

Give them a short (4 hours) stint, some training and let them loose. I have the feeling that some of the things I heard about turnover could be addressed by hiring Boomers. They’ll show up on time, have a good work ethic and if studies from Europe are any indication—they’ll work well with Millennial.

As far as the job prospects at this fair went, most of those discussed at the tables were entry-level types: bud-tenders, trimmers, retail handlers of the cannabis. But for most, these kinds of jobs will be the best way for them to enter the industry.

On the other hand some of the cannabis companies in CO are reaching small grocery chain level in their reach.

Native Root was there. They have 25 stores—including two gas stations—in their holdings. And they were looking for a CFO.

As the industry plots it’s course for 20 billion a year—I don’t think it would be a bad idea for some buyers/VP’s of merchandising in the grocery industry to look at cannabis as well.

All in all not a bad event. I think they could have set up a coffee truck and had “lounge” of sorts where people could hang out—get to know others….

But…as a hybrid of a tradeshow/job fair it worked. We had the kinds of industry-related conversations you’d expect (I heard about an angel investors company in Boulder for instance), people were friendly, there was some solid information and some schwag was given away.(though no samples of anything you could smoke or otherwise consume).

I think anyone who’s serious about entering this industry would do well to attend similar kinds of events. Like most industries, relationships—networking—open the doors.