Billionaire Beau Wrigley Proves His Cannabis Company Is Bigger Than The Family Candy Business.
Beau Wrigley Says Marijuana Can Be A Life Saver.
In 2017, when billionaire William “Beau” Wrigley Jr. was pitched cannabis as a new investment opportunity by his family office’s managing director, Jay Holmes, he shut it down immediately. “Are you kidding me?” he said. “I’m not excited about wearing orange and possibly ending up in prison.”
Still, Wrigley, heir to the all-American chewing gum fortune, couldn’t deny that the burgeoning legal marijuana industry checked off all his investment criteria: a trend in changing consumer behavior, a transforming regulatory environment and multiple applications in health care.
Soon after that excursion, he led a $ 65 million investment round in Surterra, and in November 2018, he replaced the company’s cofounder as CEO. Renamed Parallel, Wrigley’s company now has 42 dispensaries across three states, with 39 in Florida and the rest in Massachusetts and Nevada, with new ones slated to open in Pennsylvania and Texas.
To date, it has raised a total of $ 400 million largely from Wrigley and other high-net-worth individuals. The latest funding round, which closed in 2020, valued the $ 250 million company (2020 sales) at an estimated “I think this can be bigger than the Wrigley company,” he says. “At Wrigley, we brought joy to people’s lives.
This is much bigger than that. ” Florida has a growing population of 21 million and more than 100 million visitors every year, and Wrigley expects that when it legalizes cannabis for recreational use, his company will grow by a factor of ten. “The potential is huge in Florida alone,” he says.
Understandably, many assume Wrigley will produce a cannabis gum one day. “Never say never,” he says.
Wrigley was born into one of America’s great business dynasties. His namesake great-grandfather, William Wrigley Jr., started William Wrigley Co. in 1891 as a manufacturer of soap but pivoted in 1893 to produce Wrigley’s chewing gum instead.
The company was handed down through the generations, and Beau’s father ran it until the day he died, in March 1999. Beau, who started working at the company over his summer break when he was 13, was 35 years old when he became CEO and chairman the day after his father passed away.
Wrigley, who has a net worth of $ 3.1 billion, says he feels lucky to be a part of helping an industry transform from black-market to legal. The last generation of entrepreneurs who made that claim turned the desert town of Las Vegas into a city home to multibillion-dollar public corporations.
Wrigley compares the cannabis industry today to Vegas in the post-Mafia period before luxury hotels dominated the Strip.