At Stability Cannabis, a vertically integrated medical cannabis company in Oklahoma City, Okla., it’s all about the team. If one bad apple can spoil the bunch, then the goal is to work only with kind, empathetic employees who feel a passion for the industry.
“Our No. 1 criteria is ‘No jerks,’” Chief Operating Officer David Lewis says, describing the importance of this part of Stability’s hiring process. “Being a jerk is a fireable offense at Stability. No. 2 is what we call the Stability vibe. It’s hard to encompass or articulate what the vibe is, but the vibe is someone who’s intelligent, hardworking. We’re less concerned about college degrees and your experience.”
In Oklahoma, which only legalized medical cannabis in 2018, experience in the licensed and regulated landscape is hard to come by in the first place.
“What we’re really looking for is people with a good head on their shoulders, someone who can work hard and really gel with the team,” Lewis says. “What we’re after is the heart of the learner. None of us know as much as all of us know.”
Stability Cannabis launched in November 2018, led by three managing partners: CEO Denver Kitch, Chief Cultivation Officer Austin Clay and Lewis. Kitch and Lewis left lucrative careers to join Clay, whose medical and adult-use cultivation experience in Colorado formed a cornerstone for the new business. Because the entire Oklahoma cannabis workforce was only in its infancy, Clay worked closely with everyone—including his fellow executives—to navigate the intricacies of cannabis cultivation.
“We did the first couple of harvests [alongside staff], and I was learning right next to the other person who didn’t start this company,” Kitch says, referring to the executive team. “‘Hey, we’re on the same learning curve here!’”
Thus began a routine of friendly communication on a somewhat horizontal playing field: Every Monday morning, Stability Cannabis hosts a team-wide meeting with all employees (six feet apart lately, with masks on). This is where the team establishes priorities and timelines for the week—and where the company recognizes its Employee of the Week. Members of the trimming team may receive accolades for hitting certain production numbers. The executives even hand out “No Jerks” pins, along with those with other sayings, that can be worn on employee lanyards for various degrees of recognition.
With an indoor harvest of 1,200 plants every Tuesday, the business is built partly on cyclical data and routine. Within those structural boundaries is where the fun lies.
“We all came from a different background, but we all had the same idea of ‘Let’s make a place where people can go and be happy and enjoy their work,’ ” Kitch says. “We broke off from great careers do this. And we wanted to make sure that, from the top down, we all enjoy coming to work. That’s important to us.”
Stability also runs a 4,000-sq.-ft. retail store clocking $3 million each year. By now, the company is profitable.
In November 2020, the company hosted Stabilibash, which celebrated the two-year anniversary of Stability Cannabis and functioned as an all-in holiday party. The executives gave out gifts (TVs, a kayak, utility bill reimbursements) and mostly just had a good time with their team ahead of the holiday season.
“We focus as much on retention and growth and talent base as we do on recruitment,” Lewis says. “Unexpected things at unexpected times create the greatest happiness.”
When CBT spoke with Kitch and Lewis, the two were planning to host a company barbecue on-site later that week. “You’ve got to take care of the people that take care of you,” Kitch says.