Mason Walker: Traditional Manufacturing Processes Guide the Most Successful Cannabis Businesses

February 14, 2020
Theresa Bennett

Mason Walker is Co-Owner and CEO of East Fork Cultivars, an Oregon craft cannabis and hemp company. He also serves as Treasurer for the Craft Cannabis Alliance. He'll be speaking at Cannabis Conference 2020 on "Lean Management in Cultivation and Farming."

mason walker cannabis conference

Cannabis Conference Associate Editor Theresa Bennett spoke with Walker to get a better sense of how those management styles go into Walker's work with East Fork Cultivars.

You can read the full interview here.

Cannabis Conference: What do you hope attendees will bring back to their business from your session at Cannabis Conference 2020?

Mason Walker: I hope people will take away that all the processes that go into the cannabis industry behind the scenes are incredibly complex and nuanced, but at the end of the day, they're all manufacturing processes, and there's a lot we can learn from existing established industries. While it's a relatively new commercial crop that has a very unique history with prohibition and all the baggage that comes with that, at the end of the day, it's farming. We don't have to recreate the wheel, and there are a lot of established best practices that we can learn from. I've personally become a lean evangelist because I enjoy the process of seeing continual improvement—it's fun, you get little rewards when you improve something—but it's also done a lot for culture. 

I think that's another thing I hope people come away with. It's not just a nuts and bolts tool; it can be powerful for shifting the culture as well. It is a strong set of shared values that has improved our small family farm’s organizational culture, particularly around what I mentioned earlier, which is psychological safety: the feeling that it's OK to screw up and that a screwup is really an opportunity to improve the system. It’s kind of freeing for people because I think a lot of people work in a bit of fear of screwing up, and that's pretty demoralizing.

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