- Associated Press - Monday, January 4, 2016

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Some Wisconsin companies are cashing in on new opportunities created by the legalization of marijuana in other states.

A few Wisconsin firms have actively positioned themselves as suppliers to marijuana growers and processors, seeing the industry as an extension of markets they already serve, the Journal Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1O0D8ZL ) reported.

Wausau-based Roastar made a calculated move into enter into the marijuana supply field. Mike Mead, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, said Roastar saw it “as a big, significant opportunity.”

The company makes plastic bags for coffee that are often imprinted with designs. Now, it’s making flexible pouches for items such as marijuana-infused chocolates.

“It was products generally that we were already doing,” Mead said.

Madison’s Therma-Stor and Cubic Designs of New Berlin didn’t seek out the marijuana market, but rather it found them.

Cubic Designs makes mezzanine platform structures that multiply usable spaces in places such as high-ceiling warehouses and bottling plants. A distributor contacted the company three years ago about building a large platform system in Colorado, and the company didn’t know it was for a grower of marijuana for medical use until a manager went to the site.

“And we’re like, ‘Oh, wow, that’s crazy,’” said John Moore, vice president at Cubic Designs. “I mean, the shock factor was there.”

The company’s platform structures are now being used in marijuana grow rooms.

Several years ago, Therma-Stor started getting orders for a commercial brand of dehumidifiers from the West Coast in unusual patterns. Clif Tomasini, product manager for indoor gardening, said the new customers “just said it was to grow plants.”

Tomasini checked it out, and presented a business plan in early 2012 to systematically sell the dehumidifiers to marijuana growers.

“I don’t know if we’re the leader, but we’ve been doing it the longest,” Tomasini said.

Some firms are selling to marijuana companies but don’t want to speak about it publicly, the newspaper reported. Mead said Roastar sought to avoid alienating existing customers by creating a separate brand for pot pouches.

“We know that the subject is relatively taboo in some circles, so we were a little bit conservative in terms of how forward we wanted to be,” Mead said.


Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, https://www.jsonline.com

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