Miracle-Gro seems to have finally gotten hip to the fact that lots of people use its chemical fertilizer to grow marijuana — and that with a little marketing, that number could get a lot, well, higher.
In an unusual move for the head of such a large company, Scotts Miracle-Gro Company CEO Jim Hagedorn said he is “exploring” targeting medical marijuana cultivators to boost sales at his lawn and garden supply firm, reports Dana Mattioli at The Wall Street Journal.
“I want to target the pot market,” Hagedorn said in an interview. “There’s no good reason we haven’t.”
Sales at Scott’s aren’t exactly suffering. In fact, they rose five percent last year, to $2.9 billion. But the company, based in Marysville, Ohio, relies on sales at three mega-retailers — Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Wal-Mart — for almost two-thirds of its revenue. But with those big-box retailers not building new stores as quickly as they used to, it appears the CEO wants to “diversify.”
|Scotts Miracle-Gro CEO Jim Hagedorn:
“I want to target the pot market. There’s no good reason we haven’t.”
Hagedorn is pushing is regional sales presidents to look for smaller pockets of growth — such as, you guessed it, the marijuana market — that together could produce a noticeable boost in sales.
Sixteen states have legalized medical marijuana, and the market will reach $1.7 billion in sales this year, according to a report by See Change Strategy LLC, an information data services company.
While that report focuses on revenue from growers and dispensaries, the market for companies selling ancillary supplies such as hydroponic equipment and nutrients is also thriving, according to Kris Lotlikar, president of See Change.
“We see very good growth for these types of companies as the medical marijuana business grows,” Lotlikar said.
|From preventing weeds to growing them?
While Hagedorn’s upfront desire to enter the medical marijuana market may still be a little unusual for a major CEO, he has never been a typical sort of chief executive. A former F-16 fighter pilot, Hagedorn flies his personal Cessna to and from meetings in Port Washington, New York, where he grew up, and the company’s headquarters in Ohio, “much to the chagrin of his board,” the Journal reports.
He also has a propensity for swear words and military references, and reportedly showed up at the office at least one day this month in jeans and sneakers.
Hagedorn took over Miracle-Gro from his father, who co-founded the company. According to the Journal, he would likely buy niche companies that already exist, rather than trying to create Miracle-Gro’s own line of branded marijuana nutrient products.
The transition into a marijuana-friendly company could have some interesting and awkward moments, given the fact that many of Miracle-Gro’s products, such as “Shake ‘n Feed” are designed to prevent “weeds,” rather than nurture them.
Raids on marijuana growing operations have already turned up Miracle-Gro products. Hagedorn said he takes that as a good sign of brand awareness, but he fears some growers could be reluctant to use such a “mainstream” product — and something tells me he’s about to find out how strong the “organic” movement continues to be in cannabis cultivation.
Yes, lots of medical marijuana patients much prefer organically grown weed — and who can blame them? When I use my medicine, I want to taste plants, not chemicals.