Organigram is a Moncton-based licensed producer of medical and adult-use retail cannabis. They are one of Canada’s original licensed cannabis producers, having launched in 2013 and received their license in April 2014.

May 8 saw Medical Cannabis Week bring a national cannabis event to Moncton. To celebrate the event, we spoke to two of Organigram’s senior leaders. First up was Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Ray Gracewood; you can read that piece here.

For the second half of this feature, we turn to Jeff Purcell, Senior Vice President of Operations. Purcell brought 27 years of operations experience to Organigram, including 17 years with McCain Foods and eight with Ganong Bros. He spoke to us about the company, its impact on Moncton, and more.

ONB: We asked Ray Gracewood and we’ll ask you, what sets Organigram apart from the pack?

Organigram New BrunswickPurcell: When I joined Organigram, I was excited at the unique opportunity I had to transfer all the key manufacturing operational principles I had learned in other sectors and apply them to cannabis. With leadership from our Chief Executive Officer, Greg Engel, we set out a course to create a world-class manufacturing facility rather than a world-class cultivation facility. I think that’s what helps differentiate us from the rest. That and our ability to transfer and adapt CPG type processes to cannabis, highly automated packaging processes for example. Also, as Ray mentioned, the utilization of data via our proprietary OrganiGrow software help us make good decisions. The word of mouth now is that we run a top-notch manufacturing operation and that has brought a lot of talented people to our door.

Ray mentioned you’re up to 700 employees. What types of roles are included in that?

We employ upwards of 200 to 250 tradespeople. That includes plumbers, pipefitters, roofers, contract carpenters, and everything in between. On top of that, our general contractor is Acadian Construction in Moncton, they’ve helped us ensure sure we hit all our timelines and maintain credibility.

The current status of Canadian cannabis has given us the ability to do cutting edge research. We’ve got chemistry labs, microbiology labs, and other assorted R&D labs. We’re recruiting PHDs, chemists, microbiologists, horticulturists, and botanists. We have a finance group, supply chain team, quality control team, health and safety positions. There is a wide selection of roles within our company.

I’ve been with Organigram for 23 months and was employee 68 and we’re now at 700 full-time staff. Rarely do you get to work in, let alone manage, a business that has seen that kind of people and footprint growth in such a short time.

You mentioned your general contractor. They have no doubt had to hire additional staff as well.

Absolutely. That’s a great spinoff of a large facility like this one. Our plumbing contractor started with three people, and now has I believe close to 40 people working full time. Our epoxy flooring contractor fully committed to us and took on no other business, they’ve hired more people. Our video surveillance provider has hired additional staff because of their work with us. I think it’s fair to say we’ve had a significant economic impact on the Moncton community. It’s rewarding to know that your own growth helps small businesses grow with you. We’re planning to spend about 200 million dollars on our Moncton site, so there’s more work on the way.

These contractors took a chance on us when we were just an upstart with big dreams, and it’s been fantastic to see it all pay off for all of us.

What can you say about the relationship between Organigram and ONB?

Everyone at ONB right up to Stephen Lund has been a champion of our cause. Rarely a day goes by I don’t get an email from someone from your team. As Ray suggested, it’s primarily about relationship building. But even small things like “hey, here’s an idea you should consider.” Your team travels the world spreading the word that New Brunswick is the place to be in this sector, and that’s good for us as well as the province’s overall ecosystem. They’ve connected us with other groups in the space that have become partners of ours. New Brunswick has been out in front in terms of developing this industry. Both the province and the city seem to recognize the opportunities that exist within this sector and the impact we can have as we continue to grow.

Interested in a role with Organigram? Visit their careers page.

Visit our Cannabis sector page to learn more about ONB’s work in that sector and connect with our team.

Cover image via Organigram

Written by Jason Boies