Matt Gilroy, employee benefits consultant at HUB International Northwest, is knee-deep in the expanding cannabis market. With a book of business valuing $440,000 — $370,000 of which is from just the past two years — Gilroy is very enthusiastic about his future within this provocative field.
“From a book of business standpoint, public schools were definitely our largest nugget, but going into 2018 my key focuses are growing in cannabis,” Gilroy says. “Since I am based on the West Coast between Washington and Oregon, the legalization of marijuana, for a number of years now, has just been a huge growing market that I think is untapped — both from the industry being new and now reaching a maturity level where company owners finally need some benefits and actual guidance.”
Gilroy adds that many brokers attach a stigma to the cannabis market and do not want to have association with marijuana businesses on their record. “I’m not opposed to working with these businesses and therefore I’ve been strategically going after them to be their benefits provider,” he says.
His adventuresome spirit is one reason EBA chose Gilroy as a 2018 EBA Rising Star in Advising, selected among a pool of dozens of nominees over a month-long online nomination process.
Not only does Gilroy broker for cannabis businesses, he has also entrenched himself in the politics of the industry by joining organizations such as the Washington Cannabusiness Association, Washington Cannabis Alliance and the National Cannabis Industry Association.
“Matt has a dynamic background in real estate and sales and a passion for politics and economics,” says Kari Glennon, vice president of sales and development at HUB International Northwest. “He is heavily involved in the community through volunteer organizations, local chambers, human resource organizations and actively participating in each industry associations, taking active roles in lobbying efforts for his specialty practice.”
At the forefront
Nicole Floyd, director of benefit services at HUB International Northwest, applauds Gilroy for breaking into an industry that is still in its developmental stages.
“He is getting out into the forefront of that industry, learning about it inside and out,” Floyd says. “He understands what their unique needs are around human resources, technology and employee benefits so they can really provide their employees with valuable services.”
When it comes to the benefits desired most within the cannabis industry, Gilroy says because the market is dominated primarily by young employees and employers, having the most fleshed out health plan offerings are not at the topic of their wish list.
“There is a lot of professionals within the industry — attorneys, doctors and other business folks you wouldn’t expect to be there — and when they collide with the people who are passionate about the cannabis industry there tends to be a huge mix of what is desired that does not revolve around a health plan,” Gilroy says. “Ancillary benefits are definitely an immediate solution for most [employers] because many of the businesses are still up-and-coming and most owners want to dump their profits back into the business to continue growing — no pun intended.”
Still a fledgling field, Floyd notes there is a certain level of risk a broker must take when investing interest within the cannabis industry. “[Matt] is not adverse to risk, in fact he is fascinated by it,” she says. “He has made a really solid impression on the industry in very little time.”