Chase Kushak, New Standard COO came to our team in March of 2020 from the popular Founders Brewery, where he was also the COO. Chase has years of experience in several different industries; he also knows what brings people together – something that is invaluable in the cannabis industry. Meet Chase here and learn more about his journey from beer to bud.
NS: Tell us more about your background and what brought you to the cannabis industry?
CK: I have been fortunate to have a very dynamic career, having held leadership positions in operations, supply chain, strategy, marketing, sales, and Lean Sigma Six improvement across seven different industries including: automotive, consulting, consumer package goods, technology, homebuilding, and then craft beer. My focus has always been bringing people together to create impactful teams.
Before joining the New Standard team, I was Chief Operating Officer at Founders Brewing Company where I was able to help build it from a startup passionate about craft beer to one of the leading craft beer brands in the country.
My love has been working to build brands and teams in their early stage and working with high growth companies. That is what brought me to cannabis. I have seen the benefits of cannabis both medically and as a part of daily life for adults. I have always had an interest in and been a supporter of cannabis legalization, and that personal connection paired with a startup in a completely new and fast-paced industry was a perfect fit for me.
NS: What makes the New Standard team different?
CK: The team at New Standard is amazing. So talented, creative, and driven to build something special in this industry. This team embraces the excitement and challenge of being a startup. It’s a privilege to be a part of the team, and pull so many best practices from previous industries into this new cannabis world. The New Standard team all bring creative ideas from their past experience and we feed off each other so well. Everyone here cares, works extremely hard, supports each other, and loves creating an amazing customer experience. That is the culture we hoped to start from the beginning, and we’re seeing it lived out daily. We are constantly challenging ourselves and our teams to be better, to find a better way, to experiment with new ideas, and find solutions. Most importantly, we believe we are truly working on something special as cannabis enters the retail world for the first time. We want this opportunity to make a lasting and positive impact on everyone we encounter and every community we serve.
NS: What do you wish everyone knew about cannabis?
CK: I want people to know that there is no stigma to cannabis. Just like you’d have a cold one on the patio with a friend, you can enjoy a cannabis product. Cannabis has so many benefits for people, and there are so many forms. Now that it is highly regulated the quality, dosage, and effects are incredibly predictable and consistent. So instead of turning to a synthetic alternative or the “pot guy” down the street where you don’t know exactly the effect, you can talk to a budtender, find out what is right for you and create an experience no matter who you are. I can see almost anyone getting together to experience cannabis: From a group of moms gathering for a night out (or in) to a team of business executives looking for a way to unwind or celebrate. Basically, any adult looking for a safe way to relax can find a use for cannabis that will improve quality of life.
NS: What is your favorite product/products?
CK: I prefer edibles, gummies specifically. Convenient, predictable, discreet, delicious and fun.
NS: Favorite place/places to experience cannabis?
CK: Experiencing the great outdoors with the addition of cannabis is by far my favorite thing to do. There is nothing like getting outdoors with an open mind. It could be going for a walk, hike, going to the beach, a bike ride or just being with friends. Just like a beer or glass of wine, cannabis has this great way of bringing people together and creating great conversations and experiences.
NS: You’re in the ‘weed’ business…what do your parents/family think?
CK: As a father, I want to have open and honest conversations with my kids about the safety and legal usage of cannabis. The benefit of the legalization of cannabis is that now we can have those conversations with our kids the same as we would about drinking or any other intoxicant. We have several family members who have been medically helped by cannabis and have seen first-hand the benefits. Coming from the alcohol industry into cannabis has been a natural progression. It makes sense as the next step in my career, so my family has been supportive. My parents, who are not proponents, have been very supportive and are intrigued by the business aspects of cannabis. My dad will now often send me an article from his stock-picking blog about what’s going on in cannabis to see if it’s a product or something I’ve heard about. It has sparked some great conversations.
NS: When you’re not working, where can we find you enjoying life?
CK: We love to travel all over the world. I spend a lot of time outdoor adventuring (biking, hiking, skiing, mountain climbing), being in Northern Michigan, checking out live music, and watching my kids’ sporting events.