CLOVR CEO Josh Mitchem named Executive of the Year
Best of the Industry 2023 – Executive of the Year
CLOVR was Missouri’s first recognizable marijuana brand. The most prolific marketing machine with the most visibility prior to licensing, the team at CLOVR was dedicated to destigmatizing marijuana and bringing the best quality products and brands to Missouri.
“We have been 100% in the thick of things since before medical marijuana legalization,” explained CLOVR’s Director of Marketing, Bethanie White. “Before there was an industry we were advocating and volunteering wherever we could to help ensure that prohibition in Missouri would end. Our Founder Josh has been a passionate advocate for education and transparency from the conception of ideas to the completion of the passing of Amendment 3.”
From the beginning, CLOVR has been built from the ground up with a mission of quality and access for Missouri patients and consumers. “The majority of our team, from the kitchen and lab leads to administration, have been here since we sold our first gummy,” White said. “To have people on our team that have seen the strengths and weaknesses of every aspect of CLOVR has been invaluable in the decision we make for future production. We put a lot of time, money, and resources into training. We strive to be the best in the business and that doesn’t happen without a happy and well-informed team.”
At the launch of Missouri’s medical marijuana market, CLOVR hit the ground running, bringing names like Keef, Robhots, Mountain High, and Wana to the Show-Me State.
As more and more companies begin to bring in established brand partners from other markets, CLOVR remains among the top tier of producers in the state. As an extractor, infuser, and distributor for many of the state’s most prolific brands of infused products, CLOVR is a one-stop shop for cannabis consumption.
“CLOVR creates a product for every consumption method,” White continued, “Sugar-free, ratios, topicals, tinctures, ingestible; we create something for everyone and it’s going to be a quality product.”
In 2022, CLOVR won Product of the Year honors for Wana Gummies, Best Edible Beverage for Keef Lemonade, and Best Edible Gummy for Wana Blueberry. This year CLOVR continues that tradition of excellence. CLOVR was nominated for Brand of the Year, Best Chocolate Edible – for both its collaboration with Christopher Elbow and the Funny Bone line, and Best Manufacturer. Additionally, CLOVR-produced lines like Keef and Wana were nominated in their respective categories.
In the end, Greenway readers named CLOVR CEO, Josh Mitchem, Executive of the Year and awarded Keef Blue Razz Best Edible Beverage for 2023.
Greenway spoke to Mitchem and White, about the success of CLOVR and what it takes to make an impact in the cannabis industry.
“The cannabis industry is young in the grand scheme of things,” Mitchem told Greenway. “There is constant innovation and collaboration amongst its owners and users. I’ve built and run several companies in the last two decades, and in none of them have I seen so much information sharing.”
“The most unique attribute is that it is still federally illegal. This creates a lot of challenges and opportunities. I think this is why groups are so open to sharing ideas and solutions. It has an ‘us vs. the man’ feel to operating,” he said.
“2022 was a whirlwind year. We saw the medical market max out at around 200,000 patients and struggled along with the rest of the license holders in the state,” Mitchem said. “We scratched and clawed every month to break even, hoping every day for a surge of more patients to sign up.”
Mitchem continued, “I spent the entire year focusing on getting adult use legalized and endured all the stresses involved with the lengthy and challenging process of getting a ballot initiative across the finish line. As the world now knows, we did it. The last 6 weeks of the year were a blur as the legalization hangover wore off.”
Where does your passion for cannabis come from?
JM – We first entered the cannabis space for purely business reasons. I’ve used cannabis since I was a teenager and only for purposes of catching a buzz, but after seeing the massive effect it has for people that suffer from real physical and mental ailments it’s taken on a new meaning to me. Seeing the vast improvement in the quality of life that it provides millions of Americans a spark was ignited inside me that will never die.
What does the legalization of marijuana for adult use mean to you?
JM – I’ve spent the last 3 years of my life doing nothing but focusing on the legalization of adult use cannabis. I had a hand in writing the language during the attempt that was shot down due to the COVID lockdowns and spearheaded the rewriting of the language that we successfully passed this past fall. I was extremely proud of the collaboration by industry leaders, activists, and volunteers that made this dream a reality. It truly was a team effort and wouldn’t have happened without everyone that worked so tirelessly. I will forever love and respect everyone involved.
What do you consider your greatest success or achievement in 2022?
JM – Do you mean besides being voted the executive of the year again? The recognition of my peers and everyone that voted for me is a feeling I can’t put into words. Outside of this amazing achievement would be the legalization of adult use. Seeing nearly the whole industry come together with the activist community and volunteers was truly remarkable. I shared a bottle of Italian wine with Jack Cardetti from the campaign the night we won. The empty bottle is currently in a display case hanging on my basement wall to remind me of everyone that gave so much to accomplish this historic feat.
How do you define success?
JM – It’s about what you leave behind that counts. Some folks measure success by purely a healthy bottom line, personally I measure success by what I can do for others. Being able to provide stability to all the men and women that work for me is important. I wake up every day with them and their families on my mind. Providing an opportunity for everyone that works hard for us to have career opportunities is how I measure success. I also think being respected by my peers is another sign of success. I’ve worked with a lot of people that made a lot of money by doing things the wrong way, while they were financially successful no one respected them.
Tell readers about your community involvement.
JM – Being raised by a minister, charity has been a constant part of my life. I give financially to a whole host of charitable foundations ranging from down syndrome, animal rescue, battered women shelters and support, as well as smaller local charities. I also never miss a chance to sponsor charity golf tournaments. GPA Labs and I host a tournament every year supporting our brave veterans that make everything we’re doing possible by the brave sacrifices they’ve made for our freedom.
What makes a good leader?
JM – Trusting your team. Most of us have worked several jobs before we found our careers, we’ve dealt with a wide range of management styles. The worst type of person to work for is someone that doesn’t trust the people that work for them. I think a good leader hires people smarter than them, and more importantly gives them the tools and authority to do what they do best. In my case it doesn’t take a lot to find people smarter than me and I have an incredible team of intelligent individuals. I can’t do what I do without trusting them to do what they do. My dad once said to me that there are 2 types of mangers: center pole and side pole. If you take the center pole out of the tent, it collapses.
What advice would you give to others in the cannabis industry?
JM – Communicate. Locking yourself in a silo will only stifle your ability to grow. Innovation and growth happen through the open sharing of ideas. You don’t have to give away your “special sauce”, but there are ways to give and receive information that doesn’t require you to “give away the farm”. Get involved in industry groups, engagement at a macro level has done wonders for all the companies I’ve ever operated. Rising tides float all boats.
For the rest of the team at CLOVR, the year meant change and adaptation.
“What didn’t we do?” White told Greenway. “2022 was a year of observance and data collection while also adapting to regulatory changes and life back outside of Covid-19. With a year under our belts, we got to really see what our patients liked and disliked and how we could better tune in our production to become more efficient. We have never wanted to rest on our laurels so we really took all this information to see how we could better serve our team and our Missouri patients.”
That dedication to progress and striving to do better soaks into the fabric of everything at CLOVR. With the launch of adult use, White sees a chance for growth. “(Legalization means) that we get to provide more jobs and produce a wider variety of products. That any adult has the right to make the decision as to what they consume and how. Many people use cannabis for over-the-counter purposes like headaches and sleep aids and were forced to use ambiens over an indica or some type of chemical compound versus a plant. Every adult has the freedom to use that alternative, natural option. We aren’t going anywhere and have only just begun to help everybody in Missouri get what they need from the highest quality flower, edibles, tinctures, beverages and more.
Can you tell us about some of the employees or leadership that help push your success?
BW – Every. Single. One. As cliché as that sounds there isn’t a position from production staff to our CEO that we could do without to make this ship sail. Many of our team has been here since the beginning and that is a true testament of our top-down leadership. There is NOTHING our top level executives ask of our team that they won’t do themselves. Our CEO, Josh Mitchem, is Executive of the Year and he has worked tirelessly for this industry and for CLOVR, but with no one to hold down the fort and continue to produce there wouldn’t be a CLOVR. We can not run a successful business without satisfied team-members and we can’t expect them to treat our patients and customers like gold if we don’t do that to them.
Can you tell us about CLOVR’s community involvement?
BW – We are heavily involved with the Veterans Community Project (VCP) and Harvesters. Year-round we have contests and drawings to gather products for donations to each. Our Second Annual Green CLOVR Golf Tournament will be this year in June where thousands of dollars are raised to benefit VCP. We have also started a 501(c)(3) called The CLOVR Cares Foundation that will earn money for a variety of charities.
With the launch of adult use, how does CLOVR intend to stay competitive as the Missouri market continues to grow?
JM – Quality. We’ve partnered with some of the best brands in the country and hold ourselves above even their quality requirements. We had the first self-imposed quarantine in the state. The purple food coloring in our Robhot Sours was leaching into the citric acid dusting causing a salt and pepper look. We didn’t like the look so pulled them from the shelves at a great cost to us all in the name of quality. There are great local brands across the state that drive us to be better tomorrow than we are today and better today than we were yesterday. On top of always striving to put the most consistent quality products on the market, we’ll be adding several products and brands to our lineup. We’re also working on adding some celebrity star power to our brand.
BW – We will continue to do what we have always done. Scale and flex to meet the needs of the patients and consumers by creating more diverse products for the canna-curious in addition to the cannasseurs by diversifying our dosing amounts and consumption methods. We plan on reaching outside of the current cannabis community to educate on the power of the plant and its everyday use.
What plans are on the horizon for CLOVR?
BW – Just keep rolling (pun intended). We want to continue to evolve in our product creation and efficiencies, be good partners to our industry, and provide even more jobs for Missouri and just continue to educate Missouri residents about plant-based alternatives while being a good steward of our employees’ and patients’ trust.