Employee-Owned Cannabis Company

Theory Wellness Becomes First Employee-Owned Cannabis Company in Massachusetts

Dec 22, 2023


Key Takeaways

  • Theory Wellness has transitioned to an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), becoming the first employee-owned cannabis company in Massachusetts and the largest in the USA.
  • Founded in 2015, Theory Wellness operates four dispensaries, production, and cultivation facilities, with over 200 employees.
  • Co-founders Nick Friedman and Brandon Pollock initiated the change, citing employee dedication as a key factor.
  • This ownership shift is expected to maintain the company's current brand and management structure.
  • National trends show ESOPs positively impact employee morale, retention, and company performance.

Transitioning to Employee Ownership

Established in 2015 by Nick Friedman and Brandon Pollock, Theory Wellness has marked its position in the cannabis industry with significant growth.

The transition to an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) is a landmark move for the company, setting it apart as the first employee-owned cannabis company in Massachusetts and the largest in the US.

Cultivating Growth and Empowerment

The founders, Friedman and Pollock, who have been partners since their college days at Colby College in 2006, emphasize that the transition is a recognition of their employees' hard work and dedication.

With a team of over 200 employees and a reach of over 3 million customers since its inception, the decision reflects a commitment to empowering those who have contributed to the company's success.

Seamless Transition

According to Brandon Pollock, CEO of Theory Wellness, the transition to employee ownership will not disrupt the company's operations. The brand, management structure, and operational ethos are expected to remain consistent, ensuring a smooth changeover while empowering employees with ownership stakes.

“Our team is the heart and soul of our company,” Pollock said in a news release. “Now we have the opportunity to honor their dedication by handing 100% of the company over to them.” Brandon and Nick have been business partners since they met at Colby College in 2006.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Nick added. “We are proud of our employees - they deserve to own what they have worked so hard to create.” 

Theory Wellness's move might signal a broader trend within the cannabis industry. ESOPs have demonstrated significant benefits, including improved employee morale, better retention rates, and enhanced company performance. This shift could inspire other companies in the sector to consider similar ownership models.

What We Think

Theory Wellness's transition to an employee-owned model is a significant step for the company and a potential game-changer for the cannabis industry. It reflects a growing understanding that employees are not just workers but key stakeholders who contribute significantly to a company's success.

This move could pave the way for a more inclusive, employee-centric approach in the industry, leading to more sustainable and equitable business practices.

Moreover, it highlights the potential of ESOPs to enhance company culture and performance, offering a valuable model for other cannabis companies to consider in their growth and development strategies.