Revolution Hires New CEO

This story was reprinted with permission from Crain’s Chicago and written by John Pletz.

Revolution, one of the larger privately held marijuana companies in Illinois, has hired a new CEO.

Craig Johnson, a retail and e-commerce veteran, replaces Mark De Souza, who left last year to join a cancer startup.

Johnson previously was CEO of BigName Commerce, an online seller of customized bags, envelopes, and folders for businesses, until the private-equity-backed company merged with an office products retailer late last year. He also was CEO of specialty food retailer Harry & David when it came out of bankruptcy.

Dusty Shroyer, a well-respected cultivation executive who has helped Revolution build a line of popular products, will remain president and chief operating officer.

Johnson takes over Revolution, which is one of the bigger marijuana growers in Illinois, at a tricky time in the industry. The company has cultivation and dispensary licenses in Missouri, and it manages two dispensaries in Illinois, four medical-use dispensaries and a cultivation center in Arkansas, and a dispensary in Maryland. The company has 450 employees.

Revolution is building out a multistate footprint just as the industry’s fortunes have taken a hit. Growth is slowing in many states, and a severe downturn in marijuana stocks that is worse than the overall decline in the stock market has made private investors skittish.

Alongside its much larger, Chicago-based peer, PharmaCann, Revolution was an early player in the Illinois marijuana industry and now finds itself sandwiched between publicly traded giants, such as Cresco Labs (OTC: CRLBF) and Green Thumb Industries (OTC: GTBIF), and small operators in individual markets. They must find ways to keep growing and eventually go public or find buyers. Industry analysts expect a wave of consolidation among smaller players who now find themselves starved for capital.

Revolution recently raised $65 million from existing investors and doesn’t need to raise more capital in the near term to build out the assets it has, says Chairman Tony Hunter.

The company recently doubled its grow capacity in Delavan, Wis., and, like other growers, it’s looking for a boost in wholesale sales with 185 new retail store licenses coming online.

“Job one is to turn the capacity into revenue,” Hunter says. Revolution also is in discussions with some of the new retail-license winners about potential partnerships, but Hunter declined to detail what they might look like. “We see a big opportunity in Illinois,” he says.

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