An interview with Lazy River Products CEO William Cassotis
By Mark Gilbert on September 23, 2021
When recreational marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts in 2016, many entrepreneurs saw an opportunity to launch a new business in this exciting space, including William Cassotis, the CEO of Lazy River Products in Dracut, Massachusetts. Lazy River Products is a premier recreational marijuana dispensary recently approved by the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) to cultivate and develop marijuana plants and products. Since the cannabis industry and its laws, regulations, and risks can be complex to navigate, we thought William, who is a client of Gilbert Insurance, could be a great resource for others thinking of starting a cannabis-related venture.
William Cassotis of Lazy River Products
Gilbert: You started Lazy River with two friends from grade school. How did that come together?
William: Kevin Platt, Lazy River’s director of cultivation, Mark Leal, our director of operations, and I all grew up together in Londonderry, New Hampshire. We’ve been buddies since elementary school, and the three of us always talked about starting a business one day. But after high school, we each went off on our own path for a while.
I consider myself a serial entrepreneur, and after I graduated from college, I became a Planet Fitness franchisee. Ultimately, I owned over 20 Planet Fitness locations, which I ended up selling to provide funding for Lazy River. In the meantime, Kevin moved to California to pursue his skateboarding passion and then ventured into legal cannabis after Proposition 215 passed in that state in 1996. Mark worked as a corporate executive at Telco Systems, where he specialized in managing large teams.
As legalized cannabis was emerging as an industry here in Massachusetts, the three of us were drawn to it for a variety of reasons. It was apparent that the skill sets we had developed since our youth would really complement each other in a cannabis-related business. Kevin had the tactical knowledge of growing marijuana, Mark had the management experience, and I was familiar with owning and operating a business. More importantly, we
all felt that a cannabis business would provide us with the opportunity to positively impact people and communities.
So, we jumped in. I sold my franchise locations, and the three of us took off on a road trip to do some research. We visited the states where cannabis was already legal. We met with our contacts who worked in cannabis. And we really took a deep dive into this industry to learn how everything worked.
Gilbert: Why did you decide to open up a dispensary specifically in Dracut, Massachusetts? Can you share with us the process from breaking ground to opening shop?
William: There was a lot of strategy behind choosing Dracut as the location to set up shop. For one, we were familiar with the area, having grown up not too far away. Plus, the town is close to Route 93, so we knew we’d get a lot of drive-by traffic. Dracut is also close to the New Hampshire border, where recreational cannabis is still illegal, so we expected to get a lot of business from that state. And finally, Dracut was an early adopter of cannabis regulations and put a number of bylaws in place that made it easier to bring a cannabis business to this community.
That’s not to say the process from breaking ground to opening shop was easy. It was still a long road to get where we are today. It took many town meetings and lots of community outreach to demonstrate how Lazy River Products would bring value to the area.
Gilbert: Can you tell us more about the products that Lazy River offers?
William: I’d like to think that Lazy River offers anything that a customer can imagine. Our most popular product is our flower, the smokable part of the marijuana plant after it is dried and cured. But we also have a number of other products that are popular, including pre-rolls, concentrates, vapes, and edibles of all different varieties. We’re also in the process of developing new products, including pill-based cannabis and fast-acting products.
But something I must stress is that Lazy River never wants to sell a customer a product solely because it’s trendy or we want to get it off our shelf. Part of our customer experience involves understanding what the customer wants, and that involves learning what the customer’s past experiences have been and what they’re looking for in future experiences. This helps our trained staff to direct the customer to the product that will best serve their needs
Gilbert: Speaking of customers, what does the Lazy River clientele look like?
William: We see a wide variety of customers at Lazy River. Even though we’re a recreational facility, you’d be shocked at how many registered medical patients visit our facility. Although they can go to a registered medical facility and not pay the sales tax, they choose Lazy River products. Beyond medical patients, we also serve a number of mature customers, business professionals who can’t necessarily walk around smelling like they just smoked a joint. These customers often buy products that are more discreet or are looking for products to help mitigate health issues. Each customer shops at Lazy River for a reason specific to their own needs and desires. It’s our job to ensure they have an easy and beneficial shopping experience.
Gilbert: What differentiates Lazy River Products from other dispensaries in the area?
William: Other recreational-use marijuana dispensaries can only buy wholesale products from outside vendors and sell them at retail. But at Lazy River, we’re approved and certified by the CCC to cultivate and manufacture our own products. In the near future, our plan is to become a registered medical provider that offers products tax-free to qualifying customers.