Go Green Enterprises: Going with the ‘green’
-April 13th, 2017
When most people hear the name Go Green Enterprises, it’s unlikely they connect the newly formed business with Washington’s burgeoning marijuana industry.
However, the name is oddly appropriate for the Spokane-based business, which became the first state-licensed professional courier service for the transport of marijuana last October.
Go Green owner and operator Kevin Lynch says the business so far is one of only 15 licensed transport businesses in Washington to have opened since the state Liquor and Cannabis Board began offering transport licenses last July.
“There’s only one other transport business here that I’ve heard of, and that’s Canna Van,” he says. “Right now, this business is more in-house competition than anything else, meaning we mostly compete with clients who’re used to relying on their own drivers for transport.”
Go Green is a statewide courier service, transporting marijuana products for producers, processors, testing labs, and occasionally retail stores. Its services include delivery of packages or assets, transporting wholesale inventory, and regularly scheduled pickups for compliance testing of samples.
The company’s headquarters is located at 114 W. Pacific in the historic Wetzel Warehouse building, although it also has several operational hubs elsewhere in the state. The business has seven employees and is looking to hire more transport drivers.
Lynch says the company has been growing steadily since its October start.
“Our goal is to get to $25,000 gross monthly income this year,” he says. “We may not get there, but I like high goals. If we could be at half that by year’s end, I’d be happy with that, and I can tell you we’re almost to that point now.”
Lynch says the company has seen significant customer growth, expanding its routes statewide, and recently partnered with Trace Analytics LLC, a Spokane-based testing and research lab.
“Trace Analytics is known as the second largest agricultural cannabis testing and research lab in the state,” he says. “They’re a big client, and we’re happy to be working with them.”
Lynch says Go Green currently serves close to 36 active clients, a majority of whom it delivers for on a weekly basis.
“We’re in negotiations with 24 more clients; most of them seem encouraged by both the services and practical pricing we offer,” says Lynch. “We’ve really been working hard to attend as many industry conventions as possible, gaining contacts and educating people about how a transportation company can benefit their business.”
Lynch says he has an easy explanation for potential clients, most of whom are skeptical of the need for outside transportation.
“I like to explain it by using the beer industry as an example,” he says. “Breweries don’t deliver their own product. Instead, it’s sold to distributors, who sell it to retailers, who sell it to consumers.”
Lynch says so far, feedback from clients has been positive, with many asking Go Green to handle all of their delivery services.
“For our clients, self-delivery ends up costing them money because salespeople who would otherwise be at work producing product or arranging sales are out on runs instead,” he asserts. “It’s just more efficient for them to have us handle delivery.”
Washington’s marijuana industry offers four main types of business licenses, encompassing producers, processors, retailers, and transporters.
Producers grow and harvest marijuana. Processors take the harvested plant and process and package it to create various marijuana products. Retailers purchase those products and sell them to consumers. The WSLCB allows for some businesses to obtain both the producer and processor licenses, but retailers can only hold a retailer license.
As a transport licensee, Go Green is only responsible for transporting marijuana products. The company is required to keep a detailed transportation manifest, keep all product locked in a secure compartment, and deliver or return products within 48 hours of initial pickup.
“That last part seems to be a point of confusion for some people,” says Lynch. “Basically, we’re not allowed to store product overnight or between deliveries for long periods, which makes a set schedule even more important.”
Lynch says all delivered products also are insured through the company’s general liability policy.
While most of the company’s primary customers are producers, processors, and testing labs, Lynch says it also has formed a kind of secondary customer base made up of retailers.
“Occasionally retailers will call in asking about transportation, usually as a means of returning product to producer processors or bringing a sample into a lab for testing,” he says.
Lynch says Go Green is able to handle deliveries for multiple clients at once, arranging to transport products to more than one retailer on the same route, or by unloading products at one stop and loading at another for delivery along the return route.
“It doesn’t happen on every run, but it can,” he says. “That’s part of the reason we recently hired a dispatcher to help oversee and plan delivery schedules for maximum efficiency.”
Lynch says the company transports four days a week, Tuesday through Friday, with various routes across the state from here to the Seattle area, including cities as far north as Mount Vernon and as far south as Longview.
Go Green uses vans to transport product, but for security reasons Lynch wouldn’t say how many vehicles the company has in its fleet.
“These don’t have a company logo, and they’re not armored, so you’d likely never know they’re transport vans,” he says. “We’d like to keep it that way.”
Despite the company’s effort to keep their vans looking anonymous, Lynch says he and others like him in the industry usually can spot other transport vans.
“When you know the industry, you can start to tell which vehicles are likely transporting this product,” he says. “Plus, you get to know other company drivers who share similar routes.”
Lynch says transport drivers for Go Green don’t need to have any special qualifications, besides being at least 21 with a clean driving record, but he does look for job candidates who’ve had what’s called awareness training.
“Anyone with a background in the military, law enforcement, security, and sometimes hospitality businesses will have had some kind of awareness training,” he says. “It just helps them to be more conscious of their environment and better judge how best to handle a situation.”
Looking ahead, Lynch says the company plans to hire two or three more delivery drivers this year, and possibly additional office support staff, depending on revenues. He says the company also is searching for a West Side warehouse location, to have a place to store its vehicles.
“The trouble is there still are no laws or provisions for transport offices of this type,” he says. “We’re hoping to find a warehouse between 1,500 and 2,000 square feet by the end of this month.”
In Spokane, Lynch is in the process of trying to move Go Green’s offices up from its current location in the basement of the Wetzel Warehouse to space on its second floor.
“It’s difficult to move our offices, even just up to the next floor,” he says. “Each time we move we have to submit paperwork and have our office space inspected by the WSLCB.”
Lynch says for a while now he’s been considering combining Go Green’s offices with those of his other company, ZePublic, an information-technology enterprise he founded in 2000.
“This year, ZePublic has grown substantially as well,” he says. “We recently acquired Connect IT Comm, and I hired one of their founders to work as ZePublic’s general manager.”
Lynch says he’d like to buy a larger downtown location to house both ZePublic and Go Green’s offices, but has yet to find the right space.
“If I were to buy a building, I’d want something large enough to be able to sublease to other small businesses who’re just getting their start,” he says.
Lynch says that he hasn’t encountered much of the negative stigma that some associate with the industry.
He’s is a member of the Washington state Cannabis Alliance, serving on one of the organization’s boards. Although he hasn’t been as involved as he’d like to be, he says being part of such organizations helps him to stay informed and meet people who share both his excitement and concerns for the industry’s future.
“I know the federal government, particularly this new administration, isn’t crazy about marijuana legalization,” he says. “I’m hoping the president, as a former businessman, recognizes how much potential this industry has, and that he does what he said he would … leave it up to the states.”
For now, Lynch says he’s too busy running a successful business to let ideas of potential federal enforcement keep him up at night.
“Some have been in this industry since before it was legal,” he says laughing. “Not me, I just saw an opportunity to be successful in an industry that’s obviously a huge source of revenue for the state. Many people have already made a lot of money by investing in it.”