Treehouse CBD CEO Mechigian Leaves Automotive Industry
Your dad founded Bob Saks car dealers – tell me about that.
My father founded it in 1969. I started selling cars at the age of 16 and started working my way up the family business right out of college in 1988. We had eight franchises at the top. I took over from my father around 2004-2005. Then in 2008-2009, when the Great Recession hit, everything changed. We had just built a brand new building in the canton of Lyon, then General Motors went bankrupt and Chrysler went bankrupt. GM canceled the Pontiac brand, so we lost our franchise, which was 70 percent of our sales. We sold our Farmington Hills (Buick) franchises to build the big dealership and it was a year after construction started when it all went haywire.
How did you go from selling cars to selling CBD?
It’s a funny thing, eh. A few years ago the “green rush” started and everyone was running there. I already ran a few other companies, like a property management company and a car finance and warranty company, so I’m always open to looking for new opportunities. I have two sons, who are now in their twenties but have always played travel hockey and are involved in snowboarding, wakeboarding and the most extreme sports. They are always breaking bones. As a result, I have seen many of their friends and teammates become addicted to opioids. So we all started looking for a natural cure and found CBD. But we had mixed results and consistency seemed impossible to predict. So we thought we could do better.
How? ‘Or’ What?
Our products are tested. We are licensed and insured. It’s not the CBD that you buy at the gas station or in video stores. If you buy a 1000 MG tincture, the consistency and strength will be the same every time. We have a great product. Our sleep gummies are second to none. They are one of our best sellers. We have pain balms that we designed with (former Detroit Red Wings player) Joe Kocur. His hands are quite beaten from the punching helmets. If we can relieve his pain in his hand, I think that says a lot about our products.
Your products are significantly more expensive than some other products. Why?
Often times people put the cheapest things they can find on the shelves, not what works. People would walk into a dispensary and see maybe a 2,500 milligram tincture, but then only buy a 500 milligram tincture because it’s cheaper. We use 500 milligrams for pets. It’s just not strong enough for most humans. Retailers would simply market inexpensive products that would not be effective. We figured you needed a higher dosage to work and it requires more raw material and is more expensive. So we had to find a way to make this more cost effective, so we offer higher dosages but in smaller portions. This way it is more profitable for consumers, but the product actually works. I want my products to work for as many people as possible.
It’s a fairly competitive market. How do you stand out, especially if consumers can pick up CBD at the gas station?
It’s lucrative or I wouldn’t be in the business. Fortunately, a big part of what we do is B2B commerce. (Popular cannabis retailer) Greenhouse of Walled Lake is one of our distributors. We have retailers in Michigan, Florida, Ohio, and Kentucky. We are in many salons and vitamin stores as well as several marijuana stores. There is no better salesperson than the staff of a dispensary who learn all the intricacies of CBD. Other than that, the only retail business we have is our website, which is functioning well.
What future for Treehouse?
We continue to expand our product base in new chemistries. We also have a white label for other companies. We grow and manufacture the product for them, so they can launch their own brand. We are a one stop shop for labeling, bottling and creating an entirely unique product line. It’s easier for us to get them through all the holes we’ve been in before. So I expect this side of the business to do really well in the future.