“The web can be a wonderful place…a wonderful resource, but I think it should only be about 20% of your decision making. You can start seeing okay well who is out there, but then you need to pick up the phone and understand who they are and see if you like them and vibe with them. At our level of equipment, it’s an investment into your future. Ask the hard questions, who are they working with, how long have they been around for and why should they be chosen – and customer service – will they be there when you need them.
Nobody wants to be sold. Where I focus is ABE – Always Be Educating. Our team does a phenomenal job at doing this…we’re not going to sell you something that you don’t need.” – Jocelyn Prefontaine
Jocelyn Prefontaine is a close friend of Vitalis and one of the OG’s in the business who continues to break industry barriers. She’s currently the Head of Sales for Asia Pacific and Latin America for Keirton Inc. and Twister Trimming Solutions – manufacturers of heat-treatment, laboratory, and manual processing equipment – serving the cannabis, botanical, and ‘other’ spaces.
An extrovert and global connector who started working in door-to-door sales at the age of 19, Jocelyn has watched the cannabis industry grow exponentially throughout her career. She sat down (virtually) with Jason in December 2020 to share her unique perspective and convey the joy she finds in making human connections, educating people, and helping them find solutions that truly fit their needs. In this episode of The Extraction Insiders, Jocelyn talks about new innovations at Keirton, and why she believes that we’re only just starting to scratch the surface of what technology and automation can do to unleash the potential of this fascinating plant. She even takes a few minutes at the end to turn the tables on host Jason Laronde who gives props to the customers of today, and a few tips being well-versed and aware as a buyer in what is best described as a complicated industry.
[0:00] TEASER: Starting in telemarketing at age 19, Jocelyn quickly learned that the Glengarry Glen Ross ABC (“always be closing”) doesn’t work – it doesn’t connect you with people. What does work is ABE (“always be educating”).
[1:30] Welcome to ‘Extraction Insiders’ - the show about entrepreneurs and industry innovators sharing “aha” moments, pitfalls, and tough lessons they’ve learned along the way, so others don’t have to. Today Jason and Joel welcome Jocelyn Prefontaine, close friend and industry leader from Keirton Inc., a manufacturer of heat treatment, laboratory, and material processing equipment.
[1:55] Jocelyn’s origin story (in cannabis). Green Planet Wholesale took Jocelyn under their wing and she spent several years learning about the plant. Then she went “back to school” at Keirton and learned hands-on how to build processing machines – which means there is still production equipment in operation today with Jocelyn’s fingerprints on it!
[3:35] Now Jocelyn is on the retail side at Keirton, connecting with commercial customers and understanding what they need.
[4:42] Jocelyn talks about what she has seen change after eight years in this rapidly-moving industry: innovation, streamlining, and a lack of need to speak in the codes that were used pre-legalization. Jason and Jocelyn compare notes on the “tomatoes and flowers issue.”
[7:37] “Unleashing the potential of this plant.” We know nothing, relatively speaking, and have so much to discover about the properties of cannabis. Jocelyn learns something new almost every day.
[8:17] How has Keirton’s technology changed over the years? Jocelyn talks about Keirton’s product lines and how they’ve evolved – to scale up after legalization, and to address pain points like de-stemming the flower.
[9:52] Innovation drivers. Is it better to solve an existing problem, or invent a product that customers don’t even know they need yet? Both are correct! Sixteen brilliant engineers at Keirton are always coming up with new solutions and innovations.
[11:45] With a lot of competitors, how does Keirton differentiate itself? By operating at the largest scale, with the most years of experience, and the best customer service. Plus, many great innovations currently “behind the curtain” will set the course for the next two years.
[12:59] Time to talk about Jocelyn – specifically, times when she learned something the hard way. (Cheers to that!) Jocelyn talks about her most important lesson, human connection, and her advice for potential customers on how to buy efficiently by asking the right questions. Jason also shares his advice for “getting the customer to break character.”
[16:11] Jocelyn shares questions that she always asks customers, in order to hone in on their goals. A lack of honesty from customers can be the difference between failure and success.
[17:50] How important is it to understand extraction, cultivation, genetics, and more, and how does Jocelyn fill in those knowledge gaps? “Knowledge is power.” You don’t have to be an expert in everything, but the willingness to connect customers with external resources helps everyone.
[21:06] After discussing the finer points of extracting from flowers vs. trim, Jocelyn shares an anecdote about a conversation with a customer who was missing out on $3,600 of revenue for every 2,000 pounds that they harvested. It’s not uncommon that customers don’t realize that streams they consider “waste” can be readily monetized. This is why education is key.
[23:57] “The web can be a dangerous place.” What booby traps has Jocelyn seen people fall prey to due to misinformation? Mainly a reluctance to pick up the phone, talk to someone live, and ask the hard questions. Jocelyn shares tips on doing your due diligence as a customer.
[26:11] Time to talk R&D and what it looks like for Keirton. It’s derived from “boots on the ground” conversations with customers, and scales from there. Keirton is proud of its proprietary work and patents.
[28:38] Jocelyn teases a new product soon to be released from Keirton: a COP tank ultrasonic cleaner, with Siemens automation that helps it align with the T0 and other pieces of equipment. “You can clean almost anything in this machine!”
[30:35] What about other markets? Keirton has primarily focused on cannabis and hemp, but that doesn’t mean other industries aren’t interested in their products – from hops to dog food to lettuce. Vitalis is the same way: “We’ll put just about anything in the extractor as long as it’s legal!” Vitalis’ R&D program will help customers figure out if their equipment can work with your materials.
[33:12] Psilocybin – potentially the next big thing in therapeutics – are very low in density. Jason and Jocelyn discuss milling and grinding solutions that can lead into extraction.
[35:16] What has this year taught Jocelyn about business? “You have to adapt to change.” Connection – on a business but more importantly a personal level – is pivotal. Tools like Zoom, WhatsApp, and virtual education pieces that help customers maintain their own equipment can all support this.
[38:12] Customers are also buying differently now, and no longer in person, which requires adaptation. In the absence of COVID, Jason and Jocelyn would both be in Vegas right now! The duo discuss two possible mindsets to responding to recent events.
[41:34] Keirton is having their biggest year yet, and Vitalis was announced the #3 fastest company in Canada recently, with 8000% growth in three years. Cheers to that!
[42:05] Jocelyn notes her observations of media becoming increasingly receptive of the cannabis space – for example, Jay Evans being featured in Forbes.
[43:55] What’s the most rewarding thing about what Jocelyn does? Helping people. The best thing she can hear: “I never thought about it that way” or “I really appreciate that connection.”
[44:55] Time to turn the tables. Jocelyn asks Jason about Vitalis’ biggest challenge this year (massive upticks in buyer complexity) and how they’re rising to meet that challenge.
[47:48] Next question: how is Vitalis growing, and growing overseas? The plan is super amazing…but confidential! Vitalis has team and employees based in Europe, South America, and Australia. “There’s going to be a Vitalis near you!”
[50:35] Jason highlights interesting countries, continents, and industry developments where he’s seeing walls come down. “It’s going to change this industry for the good in a massive way.” Jason and Jocelyn also talk about American involvement, and how compliance in the US regulatory environment will be essential for businesses to survive.
[53:45] As the market consolidates, equipment needs will scale. “Gone are the days of $20,000 kilos.” ROI is so important, and pennies per gram of production cost matter. Vitalis and Keirton are both here to help customers optimize their margins, in any situation.
Or, reach out to the friendly team at Vitalis through VitalisET.com or through Instagram @vitalisextractiontech. Plus, watch more Extraction Insiders episodes on the Vitalis Extraction Technology YouTube channel.
Connect with Jocelyn:
Instagram @twister_jocelynConnect with Keirton Inc.:
Selected Links on Topics Mentioned in this Episode:
- Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) – Always Be Closing
- Green Planet Wholesale
- GMP Certification
- Vitalis named third fastest growing company in Canada
- Jay Evans featured in Forbes
Hosted by Joel Sherlock & Jason Laronde, Vitalis brings you wise, humorous and sometimes shocking conversations with entrepreneurs and extraction industry innovators on 'The Extraction Insiders'.