Boveda has been committed to protecting your passion for over 25 years with its unique two-way moisture control packets. Cannabis and cigar aficionados alike trust that the world’s most popular small brown pack will control humidity and keep their valuable smokes in prime condition.
Talk to Sean Knutsen, President and CEO of Boveda hemp now“s Founder and CEO, Eugenio Garcia, about the company’s surprising position in the legacy cannabis market and its plans to help cannabis consumers save on trips.
Cannabis Now: How did you get into the business?
Sean Knutsen: Six of us got together and formed the company in 1997 – this past July we celebrated our 25th anniversary, which is pretty amazing. I’ve been the CEO since the beginning.
Wow congratulations. It is amazing. And you“It has stood the test of time, as they say.
Those early days were tough, as anyone who’s started a business understands.
One of the founding team members, David, was involved in the cigar boom during the 1990s. He worked in wood and made refreshments. In fact, he was the man who brought the six founding members together—two of whom had recently retired from General Mills. Tim Sowell (Executive Vice President of Marketing) and I were friends from college. Tim David and I met through our love of cigars and wanted one of his humidors. Long story short, we built a friendship. One day, he showed us a product that controls the humidity inside containers. It was awesome.
David had difficulty controlling the humidity inside the wooden humidors. A close friend of his family, Dr. Surrey, was a senior chemist who had recently retired from General Mills. He was a multi-award winning patentee who worked in the Betty Crocker division, among other areas, including food preservation. Dr. Surrey had the idea to take the technology used to control humidity in the lab at General Mills and make it portable for packaging applications. Even then, this was not possible because materials that could hold a liquid solution while still allowing water vapor to pass through it—membrane, membranes, etc.—didn’t exist.
The technology David showed us, which was not named at the time, controls moisture levels inside containers. Different solutions of salt and water have inherent properties to regulate different humidity levels. We knew technology had outpaced the cigar market. Tim and I saw an opportunity to go into business with David. He also brought in Dr. Surrey, who invented the technology, who then brought in a colleague from General Mills, Robert Ease, who had also recently retired. These two were on the science side, developing technology and patenting.
When did you decide to move into the cannabis market?
We’ve known that cannabis has benefited from moisture management since 1997 but never expected cannabis to pay off for us as an application. We knew it was a great opportunity but we never thought we would participate because it was illegal.
Then, in 2006, we got a call from a local grower who was passionate about cannabis and – I remember getting a phone call – went into a cigar shop and saw one Moisture control products And he had a moment of light. He thought, “Oh my God, where was this when we were illegally importing cannabis off the shores of California from the Far East, Central America, and Mexico?”
They bought cannabis by weight, so if the weed dried up, they would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars. And now here is our product in a bag that can control moisture. So, he started buying Boveda from cannabis cigar stores. But his operation stalled and he spent five years in Klink. Eventually, he came out and became an advocate for the concept of herbal medicine, legitimizing it for medicinal purposes. Therefore, Boveda has been providing services to cannabis users since 2007.
So, inadvertently, Boveda was part of the vintage market before cannabis became legal.
I think it was 2015 when I remember reading about a plane that had to make an emergency landing. And when it landed, these guys were arrested for illegally transporting cannabis across state lines — bags of turkey full of weeds were in the back of their plane. I saw a picture of this plane and in every one of those bags, there’s a Boveda plane.
Another time, one of our team members was watching the “Cops” reality show. A cop pulled someone over and they were going through the glove box and he had this storage bag with him. Then the policeman pulled out a can of Boveda and said, “What is that thing?” And the guy says, “Oh, that’s my Boveda for my lawn.”
What is the Boveda ratio?“s business is hemp?
It’s very significant — just over 50 percent.
What are some of the most important challenges you face?
The biggest challenge with this strategy is how to reach customers. Social media platforms, Google AdWords, Amazon – you name it. If you advertise tobacco and especially cannabis, you will be suspended. Therefore, we must find a way to interview customers directly about those obstacles.
Does education play an important role in your sales pitch to customers? what“s cut through?
We now have many other tools at our disposal to help grow a brand that we didn’t have early on. But the most important thing so far is word of mouth. Just like any industry in any market—guitars, cigars, cannabis, or whatever—the people using the product need to spread the word. In the early days, when we first launched our company and then in 2004, when we launched our desktop humidifiers, we didn’t have any advertising budget and we didn’t have social media the way we know it today. The brand has grown tremendously. For 18 consecutive years, the compound average growth rate has exceeded 33%, which is a remarkable growth. Reaching customers is like building blocks: you get to one, you get to four, then eight, then 16, then 32. And you double. It takes some time before you reach over 50 million customers, but word of mouth is the most important way to reach them.
Is a cannabis customer much different than a cigar customer?
That’s a great question. There are some differences in the market and how to access them. Many of them relate to when customers experience the product. The Boveda was definite needed with the cigars because you don’t buy a cigar out of a humidor and everyone knows that. The common thing is that we improve the customer experience with both cigars and cannabis.
Who do you turn to to keep your true north when it comes to cannabis? Do you have a cannabis evangelist or cannabis educator at your company?
A large percentage of the population smokes marijuana and we have people here who smoke marijuana. So the answer is yes. But we also have people and resources from the outside that we really relate to and have built relationships with over the years and they are great resources. We have resources on the consumer side but also on the technical side, including labs that test hemp. A lot of the companies we work with run the tests on our behalf and all of this data helps from a scientific point of view. But we also have people who are passionate, just like people in the cigar market who are passionate about cigars, just like we do in the music industry, where we have musicians who are passionate about musical instruments. It’s not necessarily one person – it’s always a team effort.
Why should people use Boveda as part of their cannabis free trial?
One of the reasons we love being in packaging for cannabis companies is because often the first point of entry for a consumer is moisture control issues. If only we added Moisture – and did not control Moisture as precise as we are – we’ll be harmful to cannabis, with risks of mold and microbial growth. What our technology does great is raise and manage the humidity inside the container to the perfect humidity level to put your flower in. trichomes stay healthy. If the trichomes are healthy, the THC does not degrade and the terpenes do not evaporate, giving a better experience to the consumers.
there“SA is a growing movement for companies to have a better work environment. Boveda is often nominated as one of the best places to work. As CEO, how does that reflect the company’s culture?
That’s an excellent question. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cannabis company; The companies are the same. We are all here to work towards our vision. As CEO, you need to have a clear direction about the company’s direction, so people’s work has a purpose – people don’t like being in a workplace where they don’t know if their work has meaning. Also, you must live and stick to your values and how you conduct yourself as an individual and as a company. These are basic things, but you need to live them and communicate with them regularly.
The other thing is that company culture reflects people. We take a lot of time hiring the right people – it’s the most important decision for us. It doesn’t matter how good your vision is or how good your product technology is. It’s not about the soccer game in your office. None of these things. The game is work. This is the game and this is the sport. And that’s fun. When you’re enjoying this as a goal, your victories won’t be at the foosball table in the break room; It’s sales and customer experience.
What is Boveda?“2023 goals?
Up until this point, we’ve spent a lot of our time focusing on corporate warehousing and backpacking. One of the shifts we’re making is focusing on the consumer and their experience with Boveda. Our goal for 2023 is to meet the needs and experience of cannabis consumers and the benefits they get from Boveda: trust, confidence, and passion for the product.