Ben Kaplan: Your award was chosen by Canada's budtenders from around the country. What does that mean to you and what role do the budtenders play in our industry?
Shawn King: When you are a fan of the PAX brand like I am and work on it every day, it can be very easy to drink your own Kool-Aid. This type of external validation helps to ensure what we believe to be important and true about our devices actually is. For many, budtenders are the entry point into cannabis, vaping and our devices. We rely on their knowledge, ability to sell and personal enthusiasm for PAX products to create that same enthusiasm with consumers. It's key to introducing consumers to PAX devices when we can't and helping them get the most out of their PAX experience. This group is incredibly important to us and we'll continue to find ways to engage and keep them close to PAX.
BK: You won best vaporizer, which is a really competitive category. How do you differentiate?
SK: PAX has been in the cannabis accessory business for over 10 years and has a reputation for making incredible products. So, I like to think that it's the innovative nature of the brand and our products that appeal most. They look great and work even better. Years ago, I bought my first PAX because I loved how it looked. It's one of the most sophisticated portable vaporizers on the market and that does wonders for stigma if that's something you're managing. However, we all know it's not enough to make something that looks good if it doesn't work well. Our incredible team of people sweat the details of everything from the design, hardware, software and the way consumers use the product and take it personally. "Every Detail Matters" is actually our brand platform so we are working to live up to that every day. I think once consumers try PAX, they experience what that feels like.
BK: Brands are having a tough time connecting, but not you—what do you think that accounts for?
SK: Again, I don't think you can discount the quality of the product and power/reputation of the brand. Combine that with 10 years of category experience (in the US) in a new category and we have a few things working to our advantage. We also know resonating isn't just about what you say, but how you say it. So, we try to strike a nice balance between technical overkill and a personality that understands why you're using the device in the first place. It's something we pay a lot of attention to and I'd like to think that's part of the equation.
BK: The legal industry was originally beset by complaints about quality, but clearly informed voters are resonating with your product. How important is quality to your brand?
SK: Out of the gate, it seems easy to assume quality will suffer with new products in a new category. You have to remember PAX has been at this for a while. The goal was always to find a better way. A better quality device and experience is the whole point. You simply can't promise a premium experience, if your product isn't living up to that. We know we're creating a top quality product that is making the consumer experience better and we know our reputation depends on that.
BK: We've seen the Cannabis Act pass and we've seen Cannabis 2.0 products introduced in our legal marketplace. What's new on your horizon for 2021?
SK: We're always looking for ways to create an even better experience for PAX users or even greater value for being a part of our platform, both in the year ahead and beyond. Sometimes that means introducing new colours, new features or new devices. Other times it means continuing to add a diversity of partners, cultivars, and extraction innovation to what we already offer. With so many ideas on the walls of PAX offices designed to make things better, the only thing I know for sure is that something will.
BK: Lastly, 2020 was obviously hard on lots of us, in and out of the cannabis community. What's one random act of kindness that restores your faith in humanity both for this holiday and for the year to come?
SK: Whenever I take notice of something like this—it's more often than not something small and unexpected. Recently, I heard a story about a group of staff who were organizing a gift swap for their holiday gathering, which was cancelled due to COVID. They decided to buy the gifts anyway and donate them to veterans. And just the other day, I witnessed a man coming out of the grocery store—baby in one arm, a bag of groceries in the other. When his groceries began falling out of the bag as he tried to put them away, a few folks ran over and helped him get everything put away. The gratitude he showed stuck with me for days. It's the little things that get me every time. Particularly during a pandemic when everyone could use a little good news, a little help and a little kindness.
Halifax, the vibrant capital of Nova Scotia, is not only…