In September, Christopher Melillo—who spent the past two years as senior vice president of retail at the multi-state, vertically integrated cannabis operator Curaleaf—made the leap to join Ascend Wellness Holdings, a multi-state operator with cultivation, processing and retail licenses and multiple brands on the East Coast and in the Midwest, as the company’s chief revenue officer.
Melillo, who has a 25-plus year track record in retail, including leadership positions at Nike, VILLA, Home Depot and PetSmart, shared with Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary the impetus behind the recent move, as well as what he looks for in building great teams, the potential outlook of New Jersey adult-use legalization, and more.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length, style and clarity.
Cassie Neiden: You were a top retail executive at Curaleaf, helping build that company into one of the biggest in the country in terms of footprint in the cannabis industry. So what enticed you to bring your talents to Ascend Wellness?
Christopher Melillo: First and foremost, the time at Curaleaf was an amazing opportunity for me. And we really did get to build an impressive team as well as an impressive footprint across the cannabis space in the United States. [I’m] proud of the work we were able to accomplish at Curaleaf, but with that came some opportunities. As I talked to Ascend, [an opportunity] for a chief revenue officer came open. They continue to go down their path for expansion, and being able to take a higher role and run multiple divisions within the organization was a very attractive opportunity to me. Running retail, wholesale, marketing as well as design/construction, new store expansion. It’s just a more well-rounded view. Most of which I was doing at Curaleaf anyway, just at a higher title in the C