November 2018: Cultivate Insurance Services
Seth Word, CEO
Cultivate Insurance Services, Inc.
Tell us about Cultivate Insurance Services and your role?
"Cultivate Insurance Services is an independent insurance agency that has specialty programs for Horticulture/Greenhouse Growers (Cannabis/Non-Cannabis), and the Agriculture Industry (FLC’s/Grower/Packer/Shippers).
We are PROUD & PASSIONATE about our consultative approach, which includes helping our clients implement a results-driven Safety Management System. We take the time to understand what makes your company unique, evaluate the existing culture, and develop an insurance program that addresses your key exposures – so you can spend the time running your business. In short – we help protect companies’ people and their profits."
What was your very first introduction to the cannabis industry?
"I remember walking through a greenhouse, full of potted plants, with a longtime customer who had made the decision to go all in! It was surreal and exciting, and helped influence me to make the same determination – ALL IN!"
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you’ve been in the industry?
"Relationships are important… Insurance companies haven’t exactly made it easy on cannabis entrepreneurs, and you can’t just work with any insurance broker. "
What has been your biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?
"I’ve had the opportunity to work with other companies, but realized that in order to implement the vision I had to disrupt the insurance space – I needed to form my own company. A risk – yes – but, it has been more rewarding than I could have ever expected!"
What is your proudest moment since you’ve started down the path as a cannabis entrepreneur?
"After taking part in a Safety Committee that we helped establish for a customer, and witnessing the growth that they have made in their overall safety platform – incident reports, corrective actions, training initiatives… I left that appointment realizing that I’m not only in this to make a living – but more importantly to make a difference. One of my proudest moments, for sure."
10 years ago, what did you think you’d be doing now?
"If you asked me to write down where I thought I would be in 10 years – I would have most definitely sold myself short. In the insurance field? Yes. Agency ownership, and a specialist with a niche focus? Yes. Cannabis? I hadn’t ever seen a cannabis plant in my life, at that time! Goes to show that if you continually work to the best of your ability, opportunities will present themselves and you have to have the courage to act in those moments." How would you describe the cannabis industry in Monterey County?
"Vibrant! It’s fun to see all types of entrepreneurs, with varying levels of experience, succeed here. Local companies that have decided to use their years of experience in Agriculture/Horticulture to apply to cannabis, seasoned cannabis cultivators that have elected to grow legally and in compliance, and outside companies that are expanding their footprint here in Monterey County." From your experience, are there similar traits that those working in the cannabis industry share?
"While the companies that I work with continue to show serious attention to production and the importance of the entire cultivation process - A common thread that I’ve found is that they are dreamers, and willing to take the necessary risks to succeed."
How do you think people in the cannabis industry should think about the value of marketing and where should they focus their marketing budget?
"Marketing is EVERYTHING! It’s a way to tell the story of how you are different, and why that matter to those in which you are trying to reach. So, I think the focus should be the same as my approach to my marketing budget – what makes you unique?"
What is your advice for hopeful cannabis entrepreneurs?
"Patience and alignment. I’ve found that with cultivators in general benefit from the trifecta in trusted advisors – Lawyer, Insurance Agent, & CPA. Compliance is key and a consultant is sometimes necessary, but alignment with these parties will help decrease the overall pressures that come from the arduous task of continuing compliance."