ADRIAN — It’s hard to miss the ever-changing facility on West Beecher Road heading out of Adrian.
Construction crews always seem to be working and the big red barns pop compared to the surrounding landscape. At night, it’s even harder to miss with its bright lights.
What was once an empty city-owned lot is now a cultivation and processing facility for Fluresh, a marijuana company.
Work began in late 2018 on the multi-million dollar facility that will supply medicinal and recreational marijuana products to dispensaries across the state.
Two greenhouses are already growing cannabis plants. Another three greenhouses are planned to start growing in the spring. Fluresh holds three Class C growing licenses from the state, good for 1,500 plants each.
The company will then process its own products as it is licensed to do so.
Leah Bailey, CEO of Fluresh, said they are working through their first few harvests and no product has been distributed yet.
When those first Fluresh products hit store shelves in Michigan, Bailey hopes for one thing.
“If you hear Fluresh, we want people to go ‘Oh my God, that’s high quality product and it’s consistent product, and I know I’m going to get the same thing every time I have it …,’ ” she said.
Take Blue Dream, a popular cannabis strain, for example. Every time a patient or customer sees Fluresh’s Blue Dream the hope is they can expect a similar experience each and every time.
“We’d like to be known for a consistent experience,” said Lindsay Levin, chief marketing and sales officer.
This is the philosophy of an executive team with years of experience in general management and the consumer packaged goods industry.
Bailey served as president of a division of Helen of Troy prior to joining Fluresh. Helen of Troy is a worldwide marketer of brand-name products including Pur water products, Braun and Vicks. Bailey worked with Revlon hairdryers.
Prior to her time with Helen of Troy, Bailey was president of a beauty products company and also worked for GTE Corporation and Quaker Oats.
When Fluresh came calling, looking for someone with her sort of experience, Bailey jumped at the opportunity to make her mark in another, brand new industry.
“What got my attention was that they wanted to make a branded product,” she said. “There’s a lot of conversation, I think in the cannabis industry, about how important brands are but what’s really different about Fluresh is we really come from that industry.”
Fluresh doesn’t just have a marketing person, Bailey explained, “We are marketing.”
Levin most recently served as the chief marketing officer at RXBAR, a protein bar brand, before it was bought by Kellogg in 2017 for $600 million.
“After having had a taste of what a high growth, successful … company, I wanted to do that again but in an even crazier industry, and I was really attracted cannabis because of that,” she said.
Others on the Fluresh executive team tout prior experiences at companies such as PepsiCo, Kraft and Sears.
“I think that background from other industries our executive team brings, combined with a lot of the cannabis expertise we’ve brought into the team, gives us a really well-rounded team to be able to think holistically about the processes,” Bailey said, “and the team that’s needed to make the high quality brands we’re looking to create for consumers.”
Fluresh’s first series of products will be flower, or bud, products. Levin said they intend to produce “a curated selection of premium strains” that will be mainstays while also offering a limited supply strains.
Processing, the process of taking the marijuana plant and making products such as edibles, is set to begin sometime in January.
Bailey said they will use a process called hydrocarbon extraction which is how oils are extracted out of the plant.
“One of things it does is it enables you … to keep a lot of terpenes and the profiles of the original cannabis plant through to the extracted products,” she said.
Terpenes are organic compounds found in all plants. Terpenes give a marijuana strain its taste and smell and is also thought to give a strain its effect.
A medical board of four physicians advises the Fluresh team on how be to safe and responsible regarding cannabis and health.
Bailey said Fluresh was interested in the Adrian area as some of its investors had local connections.
“There was a feeling that Adrian was a very welcoming community, and I will tell you that was 100% the case,” she said. “It was a very easy decision for us.”
Fluresh employs 41 people in Adrian, 36 of which live in the area and four who have moved to Adrian for the job, according to Bailey.
The CEO said they have intentions to give back to the community through social programs and help people who have been hurt by prior marijuana laws.