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This week, Chris Shar, president of One Supply and vice president of business development at ATG Pharma, joins the Cannabis Equipment News podcast to discuss the importance of sticking to what you're good at — and being the best in the market.
Chris Shar has spent his entire career in cannabis. He was 19 years old and in his second year of college when he met Mike Lio, founder and president of ATG Pharma, an upstart machine shop he started in his garage. Lio built equipment for small and mid-size companies, particularly in the pharmaceutical and cannabis industries. Until then, small batch companies had two options when it came to automation: none or large-scale equipment — co-packing was an option, but Lio had found a gap in the market.
Lio was looking for a business partner who could help scale the business out of the garage, and when Shar came on, he was still in an entrepreneurship class in college, making quotes and establishing relationships with clients he still works with today.
Everything changed for ATG after the company exhibited at its first tradeshow, Lift, held in Toronto in 2016. The company had a line of people at the booth trying to pay cash for the floor model.
At that point, the company was three strong: Lio, his son Devon and Shar, who were selling one machine every few months. Now, the company, which has since split into new entity One Supply, is making a new machine every day.
However, Shar stresses the importance of sticking with what they're good at. Shar doesn't want to make a machine for every product category in cannabis — only the ones he believes One Supply can excel at. As he says, "We don't want to be imposters."
In this episode, Shar discusses:
- Problems scaling the business after a sudden rush of demand. (14:02)
- Overcoming critical mistakes, like inventory management and reliance on third-party vendors. (15:07)
- How they built their product roadmap with machines that work with various form factors in a single machine. (17:23)
- Why the company staffed up with young, hungry professionals. (19:43)
- Why they split the company into two entities: One Supply and ATG Pharma. (20:52)
- Existing gaps in the market and vape's untapped potential. (24:34)
- Why cannabis companies are hesitant to repurpose workers with automation. (27:54)
- The difference between U.S. and Canadian cannabis companies. (30:50)
- Problems MSOs face when using disparate equipment in various locations. (39:02)
- Designing differently for the cannabis workforce. (41:45)
- The potential for pre-homogenization pre-roll automation. (50:00)
Please make sure to like, subscribe and share the podcast. You could also help us out by giving the podcast a positive review. Finally, to email the podcast or suggest a potential guest, you can reach David Mantey at [email protected].