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4Front hires former Trader Joe’s exec as cannabis firms continue to attract top talent

By Brandon A. Dorfman
Jan 09, 2019

The U.S.-based retail and brand development cannabis company 4Front Holdings, LLC hired former Vice President of Buying at Trader Joe's Glenn Backus to serve as their new President of Mission, a network of branded retail outlets. A multi-state network of medical cannabis dispensaries, Mission currently operates five stores in four states, including Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, and plans to open in several new markets according to a statement released by the company.

Backus has had an extensive career in the retail sector, having dealt with national and regional categories in his time at Trader Joe’s while bringing about 600 new items to market per year. According to a statement, he was also Trader Joe's Vice President of Store Operations for New York, New Jersey, and Ohio.

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"Glenn brings a unique combination of experience and capabilities to both 4Front and Mission, particularly with his formative years supporting the rapid growth of Trader Joe's, a specialty retailer that operates in an environment that in many ways closely resembles the frequently vertically integrated cannabis retail ecosystem," said 4Front CEO Josh Rosen in a statement. "There are not many people in this industry with his mix of operations and product development experience, not to mention the entrepreneurial drive that led him to form his own product development company.”


Glenn Backus/ Screenshot Vimeo

Founded as a consultancy company in 2011, 4Front is one of the more seasoned cannabis companies in the industry today. According to a recent Reddit AMA held by CEO Josh Rosen, the company has helped win more than 50 operating licenses for partners across the United States.

In 2015, the company switched gears to gaining licenses for themselves.

“I think our roots are a differentiator for us and I believe it's our roots that also show up in our culture — we have a customer-driven culture and I think ultimately it's culture that supports scale across operations and geographies,” said Rosen in the recent AMA when asked what makes 4Front different than other cannabis companies. “Not saying the others can't do that well, as I also think there's a lot of room in this industry for a lot of successful companies.”

In November, 4Front made headlines in the cannabis industry when they signed a letter of intent with Cannex Capital Holdings Inc. (CSE:CNNX) (OTCQX: CNXXF) to merge in an all-stock transaction pursuant to approval from the Canadian Securities Exchange.

Backus’ addition to the 4Front team is just the latest in a series of mainstream retail executives moving to the cannabis industry. Earlier this week it was reported that former Coca-Cola exec Eugenio Mendez joined Charlotte’s Web, the popular hemp-derived CBD company in a newly created position. Mendez, who served as Vice-President, Global Marketing of Water, Enhanced Water, and Sports Drinks for the soft drink giant is now the Chief Growth Officer for the Stanley Brothers team. In his new role, he will be in charge of business development, marketing, and sales.

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“We're looking forward to applying Glenn's entrepreneurial spirit, operational acumen, and natural leadership as we seek to grow Mission into one of the country's leading cannabis retailers," said Rosen in the company’s announcement.

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