Sol Flower’s Tempe and Sun City locations both recently celebrated their one year anniversaries, and patients across the Valley have Dan Hayden to thank. As Sol Flower’s Director of Retail Operations, Dan oversaw the opening of our two dispensaries and continues to spearhead their tremendous success.
But Sol Flower isn’t Dan’s first cannabis rodeo – in fact, this Arizona native has been instrumental in the growth of the state’s medical industry since 2010. We sat down with Dan to dive into his history, what he loves most about working in Arizona, and why Sol Flower is like a certain sports dynasty.
What drew you to the cannabis industry?
I have always been around the plant – I grew up in an environment that had respect for natural medicines, conscience of the cannabis plant, and its medicinal properties. I didn’t really know about the industry, but I knew about the possibilities of cannabis. A family member worked with a marketing company that was helping to get legislation passed, he called me up to help him with some business plans because he knew I had familiarity with both cannabis and business. So that was how I started turning a passion into a career.
What were some of your early jobs in the industry?
In 2010 I started writing applications for dispensary licensing. It was a bit of a stop and start process before dispensaries started opening in 2013, but in the end I helped win 5 of the original 71 licenses that were awarded.
From there I was able to join and help another company establish the first dispensary in the Paradise Valley Village CHAA, home to the highest patient population in Phoenix. I grew in that position to oversee cultivation, production, and retail – I wore a lot of hats.
How has your job changed over the past decade?
In the early days, everyone was a pioneer. There were lots of independent dispensaries where operators were owners, GM’s and cultivators all in one. Now with the influx of publicly traded organizations acquiring licenses, there has been a shift to a more corporate structure. That is not a bad thing – it means there’s more specialization and opportunity to be an expert in a specific part of the industry where your talents lie. Team synergy is more important than ever.
What is it about Sol Flower that makes it stand out in the market?
I’m going to get a lot of flak for this, especially as a Boston fan, but I’ve always equated Sol Flower to the New York Yankees. We are well-run, we like to acquire the best talent, we field a team of all stars, and we have the resources to be one of the biggest employers in the state. And while aspirations from ownership are to win, leadership has really built a refreshing culture through transparency and honesty. We’re always trying to add to this dynasty.
What do you love most about working in Arizona?
I’m a fan of top shelf products from solvent-less extracts to high end flower. And Arizona has changed so much over the last decade with its focus on large scale production to get the best products to the marketplace. Dispensaries are really starting to understand the whole package, from the product itself to the retail experience. Everything connects and good experiences keep people coming back. It’s exciting to see what’s going on locally compared to more mature markets like California. Our vendors are really stepping up their game.
Favorite way to consume:
Joints, blunts, or cannagars. It’s pretty simple.
I love OG strains, anything super gassy. I enjoy indica leaning hybrids. Tough to pick a favorite. I truly like checking out the best breeders and new genetics, to find the next best thing.