Humble & Fume Begins to Build its California Supply Chain – ExecEdge
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Humble & Fume Begins to Build its California Supply Chain
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Humble & Fume Begins to Build its California Supply Chain


Jakob Ripshtein

By Exec Edge Editorial Staff

Humble & Fume recently appointed a new Chairman of the Board, Jakob Ripshtein, who brings a wealth of experience in supply chain management and other consumer packaged goods specialties to the gig from formerly serving as president of Aprhia (now Tilray) and Diageo Canada. Ripshtein is also Chief Executive Officer of Perennial Brands Inc, a brand strategy organization that has worked with cannabis clients such as The Supreme Cannabis Company, Inc. and Cannovate. 

In the midst of all these changes for the company, we checked in with Ripshtein to discuss why Humble & Fume chose to launch its U.S. operations in California, why now, and what the future holds for Canadian companies hoping to edge into United States cannabis markets. 
It’s no secret that California’s cannabis market is suffering from significant oversupply issues, as well as a distribution bottleneck caused by ineffective supply chain aggregation and management and cripplingly high taxes for operators at all levels of the chain. 
For Ripshtein, good business is good business, and he thinks that holds true whether a particular market is soaring or not. He’s unphased by the current challenges in California’s market, and instead sees a building opportunity. Additionally, as a veteran of Canada’s consistently beleagured legal cannabis market, he already knows more than a thing or two about how to survive when market conditions are tough.
“This is what I believe in: as long as you have a good team with a clear strategy, with a clear understanding of the industry in the market, a challenge is a great opportunity,” Ripshtein said.
“Because you will be able to capitalize on where others see difficulties and create good long term businesses. The reason I say that is because if you look at the players or individuals we have today, within Humble & Fume and Johnson Brothers, we will find fairly quickly that there is already an understanding of the Canadian, U.S. and California cannabis businesses,” Ripshtein said, pointing to the strength of management across both companies.
“Our expertise is extremely diverse, we are already really well-versed in many aspects of the cannabis industry from branding, to distribution, to product, and consumer insight,” he added. Additionally he mentioned the strength of the Johnson Brothers’ network in the United States speaks clearly to being able to handle supply chains in many different respects.
Ripshtein said the story is “really very simple:” to get a good result, you have to combine good with good. Humble & Fume started as an accessories company, which is an industry with good margins for operators. Johnson Brothers’ success speaks for itself. “Sprinkle in good people,” in management and throughout the company, and the recipe for a successful venture is set”, Ripshtein explained.
In any distribution market, Ripshtein said, it’s crucial to know how to “move forward from one point to the other,” which seems simple but requires more know-how and sharp intuition than may be obvious from the outside.
“You need the understanding of how you go to a store and introduce and talk about your product, how to assess what opportunity within the store and within the market, understanding the customer-consumer insight, tracking of performance, reporting on performance, being able to provide insight on the performance that you see, and how it translates into action, which improve the business going forward,” Ripshtein said, listing the intricacies required to build a successful distribution network. 
But ask anyone who works in cannabis, and they’ll tell you that what applies in a parallel segment of another industry may fall flat once cannabis enters the picture, owing to the industry’s nascency and strict regulations, which eclipse even the complexities of alcohol distribution. Is Johnson Brothers prepared to make the shift? Ripshtein thinks so. 
“These are the fundamentals of any distribution business, regardless of industry, and Johnson Brothers has been doing it for years. So all the backbone of that, again, from keeping regulatory issues in mind” — Ripshtein pauses to reiterate that there are limits to what Johnson Brothers can and cannot do as a federally licensed spirits company, which already provides the new venture with a navigational edge— “is really, really critical.” For him, fundamentals and good management remain key, regardless of what industry.



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