In an exclusive Shadd Dales interview, a conversation was heldCanna with Jennifer Drake, the COO at Ayr Wellness. These types of interviews are always helpful in gaining an insider’s knowledge of an industry that continues to grow. The meeting between the two took place last week during the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in Miami. The topics covered during this interview were wide-ranging, including the lack of executive diversity in the industry, Drake’s views on SAFE Banking, and of course, the firm’s progress on the Liberty Health Sciences (LHS) acquisition.
Drake’s experience is extremely high as she has been an entrepreneurial leader in both lean start-ups and large blue-chip entities. Drake was a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, where she broadened her experience in mergers and acquisitions.
In fact, she has been a key player in the deal origination of several multi-billion dollar asset management firms. Her task has been to ensure compliance within regulatory frameworks that are far from simple, as well as to create a foundation for accelerated growth.
On the subject of the LHS acquisition, Drake has made it clear that Ayr is in the midst of making significant progress in order to get to where it wants to be. “That transaction, I think, will end up being-if not the best, one of the best transactions that we have done in our history… And why is it so good? Because, there was work that needed to be done on the asset, definitely, But it’s work that we’re particularly good at. It needed some investment, some capital investment, it needed some leadership. It needed some good cultivation,” she added.
At the beginning of this transaction, there were some inconsistencies in LHS’s cultivation practices, which resulted in suboptimal yields at some of its cultivation facilities. Even so, Ayr seems to be finding the right path in getting the assets up to the company’s standards.
Drake added, “We’ve already taken our yields in that facility from-we’ve more than doubled them, essentially, from about 25 grams a (square) foot to, our most recent harvest, it’s been as high as 80. But I don’t think we’ll get that high over the full year-probably more like 60 on average, and that would be great.”