23 to watch in 2023: Eli Melrod, CEO of Solful

Eli Melrod and Solful continue to outshine the competition at nearly every turn…

Says Mike Benziger, founder of Glentucky Family Farm in Sonoma Valley:

“Most dispensaries want to control the farming. They want to control the distribution. But Eli had a different formula and saw that Solful could prosper by focusing relentlessly on the customer and then developing employees that became experts.”

We know Mike Benziger, founder of Benziger Family Wineries and the Glentucky cannabis farm. He has spoken to the city council in support of a second dispensary in the past. His comment in the PD that most dispensaries would rather control all their own cultivation and distribution (vertical integration) is pointed.

All those legacy family farms in our own backyard, in Mendocino, Humbolt, Trinity and Sonoma Counties, many of which have existed for generations, are struggling mightily under incredibly outrageous taxation and regulation by the State. Some have been forced out of business entirely and many others are on the verge of losing everything.

Solful and sparc are competitors in Sebastopol. Solful is intent on supporting those smaller farmers as best it can by sourcing its wares from them.

sparc on the other hand is vertically integrated. It cultivates the vast majority of its own product and oversees its production from seed to harvest to packaging. That doesn’t do much to help the little guy.

And you know what? There is nothing wrong with pointing out differences between X and Y. That largely doesn’t work for business owners, who should always frame competition as manageable, highlight their positives to suggest competitor shortcomings, discover the most effective ways to differentiate from competitors, emphasize their dynamic product lines, and become thought leaders on industry evolution. Some businesses do these things better than others.

But, that’s not our job. Besides advocating for reasonable access to medical cannabis, we’re here to report, evaluate and assess what’s happening in our little sphere of influence. We’re not interested in taking a kumbaya, go along to get along road for the sake of expediency. Bottom line, it matters little if you’re Mercy Wellness or sparc or Solful or Jane’s or any of the other 30+ retail dispensaries in Sonoma County – the truth is the truth.


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