William Wrigley Jr. is the fourth generation of the famed Wrigley family that founded and built Wrigley Company, maker of Wrigley’s gum. Mars Inc. purchased Wrigley Company in 2006 for $23 billion.
Wrigley was President and CEO of Wrigley Company until 2006. Today, Wrigley is CEO of Surterra Wellness, a private cannabis company based out of Atlanta. Founded in 2014, the company has operations in Florida, Texas, Nevada and Massachusetts.
In a recent CNN article, Wrigley was emphatic that legal cannabis may be an even bigger opportunity than the family’s chewing gum empire.
“I truly believe, in many respects, that I'm building the next Wrigley Company.”
Chewing gum has been a consumer tradition in the United States for decades. As a recent Seed Investor article noted, cannabis is rapidly becoming a new American consumer tradition.
Cannabis spending during the U.S.’s recent 4th of July celebrations topped $400 million. As cannabis legalization spreads, cannabis products are on track to become the #1 expenditure by Americans for the 4th of July holiday.
While a private company, Surterra is well-funded. It just raised $100 million in its Series D funding round. The company has already raised a total of $350 million.
Coming aboard in the last financing as an investor and now an Executive Director of Surterra is Edward Brown. Brown is the former President and CEO of Patrón Spirits Company, maker of Patrón tequila. That company was just sold to Bacardi last year.
More recently, Surterra added Fareed Khan as its Chief Financial Officer. Khan has a decade of experience as CFO, most notably with breakfast retailing giant, Kellogg Company.
What does Surterra’s illustrious leadership plan on doing with all this capital – in the U.S.’s fastest-growing industry?
As its name implies, the company is offering consumers a wide array of health-and-wellness oriented cannabis products: vape pens, oils, tinctures, lotions and transdermal patches. The CNN article offered additional details.
Surterra has a three-pronged strategy: Accumulating operations and licenses in existing cannabis markets; developing a "house of brands" that could sell globally; and advancing cannabis science and technology to disrupt not only sectors such as the beverages industry, but also the health care industry. That includes isolating various chemical compounds in the cannabis plant and targeting them for different health and wellness needs.
To bolster Surterra’s product development, it recently acquired Molecular Infusions (Mi). This is a Boston-based biotechnology R&D company. In particular, the acquisition is expected to facilitate Surterra’s entry into the cannabis-infused beverage space.
Mi has already developed two “beverage additive formats”. It also adds considerable expertise in other cannabinoid delivery modes – including a fine-mist inhaler.
On the marketing side, Surterra has signed a licensing deal with singer Jimmy Buffett. Buffett’s role is to help Surterra sell its Endless Summer and Coral Reefer branded cannabis products.
Cannabis is moving steadily toward the mainstream of American business and culture. As it does so, the cannabis industry continues to draw increasing numbers of executives from both established multinationals and iconic consumer brands.