Director of operations
If you’ve ever visited Vertica in OKC or Norman, you’ve probably seen him.
Him being the very tall bearded man with a big smile, probably wearing a Vertica shirt and answering patients’ questions. Maybe he’s even helped you.
His name is Tommy Griffith, and he is the Director of Operations for Vertica. Tommy has been with us since the beginning, since we snatched him out of Colorado to help us launch Vertica here in Oklahoma. If you’ve ever dreamed about a career in the cannabis industry, then Tommy’s story could be a roadmap for what happens when you work hard, and don’t let opportunities pass you by.
Born in Arlington, Texas in the late ‘80s, Tommy was one of eight kids from a blended family. By the time he graduated high school, he weighed 540 pounds. After deciding to pursue a football career, he moved to Kansas in 2010, where he quickly lost 300 of those pounds. While it’s amazing that anyone could lose 300 pounds – let alone that quickly – his weight loss came with a side effect. He started having balance issues, which led to the end of his football career.
Flash forward to January 1, 2014. Coloradans know this date well. This was the first day recreational cannabis sales were allowed in the state of Colorado. Tommy was thrilled. He packed up his car for a week-long trip to Colorado, and drove 6 hours to get there. He pulled into DANK Dispensary in Denver. He got in a line and waited there for 4 hours. Most people would be restless, and might decide to come back later when it wasn’t so busy. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case for Tommy.
“I was in love as soon as I got in that line,” Tommy says. “It was incredible. I knew right then and there what I wanted to do: be a part of the cannabis industry by any means necessary!”
After leaving the dispensary, Tommy decided on the spot that he would move to Denver. After that week long vacation, he drove back to Kansas and started working every shift he could get. He worked odd jobs, held garage sales, cut his bills down, and within 85 days, he had the money for the move.
Upon arriving in Denver the second time in March 2014, Tommy still needed a job and a badge that allows you to work in the cannabis industry. That badge costs $250. Tommy had it by April, and the job hunt began.
For months, Tommy was relentless when it came to searching for cannabis jobs.
“I was going everywhere, taping my resume to doors of companies who were just breaking ground on their locations,” Tommy says.
After 6 months, he was close to giving up. Until he checked his voicemail. He heard a voice that was breaking up. He listened closer, and made out the words “Altitude Dispensary”. He called the number back, and was offered an interview. A few weeks later, he was hired. He was finally going to work in the cannabis industry.
At Altitude, Tommy started as a budtender. While he loved budtending, he quickly realized he wanted more. He says that he soon realized that the only way he was going to move up in the company was to acquire knowledge. And he wasn’t going to get that knowledge without making himself available. He knew that when he was scheduled to bud tend, he needed to do his job and bud tend. However, he thought if he hung out at the store during his off-time, he could learn what the manager was working on. That mindset paid off, because in no time Tommy became Operations Manager for Altitude Dispensaries.
After a few years with Altitude, launching a new location and getting experience at every level of the company, Tommy got restless. He moved to Pure Dispensaries in Denver.
Pure Dispensaries was the first medical cannabis dispensary in Denver back in 2009. By 2015, it had lost some of its following and was looking to reconnect with their patients. That’s where Tommy came in. He oversaw Pure’s three locations, and took their revenue from $400k per month to over $1.5 million. Pure became so successful, they were able to open a fourth location.
After Pure, Tommy went back to Altitude in the hopes of achieving a better work-life balance. One day, he got approached with an offer to move to Oklahoma and help us launch Vertica. And the rest is history!
Q&A with Tommy
How do YOu want people to remember you?
With a cloud of smoke and a big smile!
Finish this sentence: on Sunday mornings, you can usually find me…
What are some of your favorite products?
I LOVE TOPICALS! Because of the THC/CBD, they are amazing anti-inflammatories for my degenerative disc disease. I also use them as a cure all for dry skin, a tattoo healer, burns, beard balm, scraps, swelling, dry cuticles, cracked skin – the list goes on. I am as bad as the character Gus Portokalos from My Big Fat Greek Wedding who sprays Windex on everyone and everything! You gotta rash? Here, use this topical. Spider bite? Use a topical. Got a face that only a mother could love? Here, use this topical!
Since moving to Oklahoma, I have really been impressed with Bison Extracts Pain Cream and The Greens Bakeries Canna-Soapee!
What are some popular grow mediums and why?
Anything aquaponics has been killer for us! Our patients LOVE that they can choose how it is grown! We try our best to always have strains from soil, hydroponic and aquaponic growers! This gives us a unique comparison to similar strains grown (like Blue Dream or Sour Diesel) with different methods and techniques, so you can choose which strain reacts with your body the best.
Oklahoma has really upped the bar for testing standards and now we are required to provide terpene profiles for all of our flower. Our patients have the ability to choose profiles that have proven reactions to help with certain ailments. It really gives patients a choice of medicine that people in California or Colorado don’t have.
How are Vertica’s budtenders so knowledgable?
Each one of our budtenders must go through Vertica Budtending School. This is a 45-page cannabis study guide, along with some classroom-styled teachings that are designed to expand their knowledge in the cannabis industry while operating at the highest level of customer service. Each person we hire is handpicked because we felt there was something unique about their character when they were interviewed. Having such a diverse staff makes for a fun and energetic environment! We have a retired horticulturist, a male model, retired military personnel, college students, etc. Our staff is filled with passion, excitement, and knowledge. Most of all, they have an eagerness to help others! Our budtenders truly care about our patients and love the rapport they have with them.