Jason Wallace is an experienced business manager and alumnus of Harvard Business School. He spent the last decade as a lead consultant within the Canadian and European energy, consumer, and technology markets. Leveraging his strong business development and science background (P.Geo), he has been able to promote institutional changes in cost efficiency, organizational alignment, and company culture across the businesses he has worked within. The results of his efforts manifested in the streamlining and modernization of internal processes and the real-world outcome of increased revenue.
In May 2018, Jason co-founded Element Cannabis Group, a start-up company in Calgary, Canada, that combines technologies to efficiently produce quality cannabis products such as, oils, concentrates, distillates, and isolate for the global market. They use their own in-house laboratory to produce medical grade, “Good Manufacturing Products” (GMP) certified commodities. Element has remained a private business and has avoided the pitfalls of an emerging economy’s “boom and bust cyclicity.” As a result, growth has been organic and largely sheltered from the volatility experienced by their publicly traded counterparts. “We’ve seen our public competitors spend money on growing into huge market capitalizations only to see their market cap fall and their revenues underperform,” explains Jason.
In addition to remaining an efficient, private company, Jason has also assisted in Element’s goal to be the lowest-cost cannabis producer in North America. They are attempting to achieve this through a significantly disruptive build strategy that shrugs off years of conventional cannabis-growing wisdom. “When Canada legalized cannabis, most growers repurposed cost-effective greenhouses and older buildings as a means of getting their products to market as soon as possible,” says Jason. However, when Element entered the industry, they chose to build a new, innovative facility from the ground up. “We chose a location where natural gas is abundant and cheap so that we could produce our own electricity on site,” explains Jason.
Most Canadian companies are buying electricity off the grid and paying their local municipalities for service. However, Element used oil and gas technologies to bring in natural gas to its facilities. Subsequently, generators produce their electricity, completely off the grid, paying only 10% of the electricity bill that their competitors pay. Waste heat is captured off the gensets to heat and cool the building, which creates further energy savings and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 44%. Element was also able to drill their own wells and no longer pay the city or county for water usage.
Element’s facility’s most unique feature is its employment of what is called “vertical growing,” which means growing crops in stacked layers. By stacking, they are utilizing the heat and maximizing cost efficiency and square footage. “Basically, anywhere Element finds an inefficiency, we pull it apart, find the best solution, and apply it to our facility,” says Jason.
Although they recognize that quality is paramount, those at Element know that cost is also important in order to become a leading cannabis producer. “The new paradigm in cannabis cultivation will have a significant effect on producers throughout Canada. As the market begins to consolidate, the companies with the lowest cost will ultimately win the market segment,” says Jason.
In addition to new-ventures and consulting, Jason volunteers at Big Brothers Big Sisters working with youth. Jason is also a member of ACTRA, the Canadian acting union, appearing in film and television such as Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and Fargo. Jason worked on Elite: High Performance Lessons and Habits from a Former Navy Seal, a business leadership book, with HBS classmate, Nick Hays.
Element Cannabis Group