When CBE was putting together the 100 Top Ancillary Businesses last year, we decided not to include Canna Security America (CSA). They had just come off an IPO, the stock was in the tank; and Dan Williams, the Company’s CEO and founder, abruptly resigned.
It was April 2016, and all we knew was that revenues didn’t grow in a year, and they had spent a good bit of money buying armored cars and launching The Cloverton Group (TCG) to provide transportation and physical security to clients.
I found Dan to be a transparent interview, but always slightly felt like I ordered a steak and got a hamburger instead. … I wasn’t confident in where he was taking the company, but we did a list swap with CSA and found their list to be lacking quality contacts who represented great targets for CSA’s services. Also, their revenues just didn’t make sense to me based on the size of the CSA payroll.
One thing that got my attention was the fact the CSA hired a COO in November 2015, and we didn’t immediately recognize the significance of the hire until I was personally introduced to Jon Doukas, managing partner at Trends Mergers and Acquisitions at the Cannabis World Expo in New York in June.
CBE recently caught up with Tom Siciliano, the President of CSA (and the COO they hired), thanks to Jon’s introduction. Tom was more than forthright in sharing the story of why he was brought in by the board, which was looking for an experienced operator to jump-start the company. Tom’s mission was three-fold:
Tom was no stranger to turnarounds. He spent the majority of his professional life working in sales, operations, and finance roles at Aramark, Corporate Express and, before CSA, building Classic Party Rentals. There, he had P&L responsibility for more than 1,000 employees who were supplying party rental equipment for top-level corporate events, such as the PGA Tour and Super Bowl. They operated in 15 markets, so Tom was familiar with scaling a company across multiple states, which was important in executing a growth plan that would rely on increasing CSA’s footprint across the USA.
An Eagle Scout as a kid, Tom was also a successful athlete, captain of his high school teams and a top D-I football recruit as a running back. At a young age, Tom developed leadership skills based on integrity, getting his hands dirty, and leading by example—key skills needed desperately when he was hired at CSA.
Blocking and tackling in the early days at CSA involved generating job descriptions, creating profitability models for client engagements, and reorganizing the company’s structure so they could uniquely position themselves as a full service provider of:
They integrated the struggling standalone TCG, which had taken almost a year to generate its first revenue, and directed their energies to serving and building a client base in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon. Tom also streamlined CSA’s staff, brought in tier one accounting practices, dealt with debt accrued under Dan’s watch, and was introduced to an investor by Doukas to buy out 50 of the 55 million shares owned by the founder. After getting those issues cleaned up, he began looking for an acquisition to add revenues to the newly positioned firm.
The turnaround was completed earlier this year in August when CSA used its stock and $350k to purchase Big Al’s Security, a physical security supplier with a great reputation based on their ex-military and well-trained staff that had licenses to operate in Colorado, Oregon, and Arizona. Big Al’s was also generating $2.5 million in cash flow, and a great match for CSA and Tom’s vision for the future.
Big Al’s Security needed executive leadership to continue their (and his) growth, and simultaneously solidified CSA’s cash flow and operating portfolio needs. The acquisition immediately made CSA one of the largest—at approximately $4,000,000 in revenues—and arguably the only full-service cannabis industry security supplier.
Al Burke, founder of Big Al’s, is under Tom’s mentorship as the Executive Vice President of Operations. The integration absorbed about 95% of the team that Al built.
In addition to the consulting projects that they worked on, the company now serves in California, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Texas with added staff. They are also preparing to enter Florida, Hawaii, and Maine markets in the near future.
They also beefed up their marketing with the addition of new Marketing Director Jennifer Cox, who will be spreading the word via public relations, social media, website development, and expanded search engine optimization efforts. Don’t be surprised if CSA expands its reach through additional acquisitions to increase their footprint and customer base.
Tom is extremely proud of the attention he and the CSA team has received as a nominee in two categories for 2016 Cannawards—especially for being one of a few nominees for the “Most Influential Company.” It is a reflection of the integrity, best practices, and leadership he has brought to CSA.
With sights squarely on expansion, CSA’s primary competitors are taking notice, as will the investor community once they realize that a new sheriff is in town who has built a company or two before!
Year Founded: 2009
Ownership structure/operating entities: Public company: CSAX
Management Team: Tom Siciliano, President – Al Burke, EVP of Op’s – Jessica Anderson, Sr Accountant – Jennifer Cox, Marketing Director – Kevin Brown, Sales Director – Josh Ray, Cannabis Operations Manager – Brenden Latasha, Systems Operations Manager
Headquarters: Denver, CO
Industry Segment/Category: Cannabis Security – Guard Services, Armor trucks for cash transport and alarm systems
Current Markets/States Served: CO, AZ, CA, NC, NV, OR, WA, TX
Current Number of employees: 120
Market Strategy/Goal: Expand into new states through new targeted sales and key acquisitions. Already one of the largest companies in the US, but want to build on that making us by far the largest. Also expanding into Canada.
2014 Revenues: $634,000
2015 Revenues: $780,000
2016 Projected Revenues: $2,400,000
Product/Revenue Mix: 50% guards services, 20% cash transport, 30% systems
Expansion Plans: To complete an acquisition in southern Calf in early 2017 – look to other acquisitions in Northern Calf, Oregon and Arizona – Also look to expand east in Ohio, PA, FL, NJ
Financing strategy: Through the use of their stock