Matthew Sly is the Logistics Director of Canopy Growth. Upon first stepping into the role, the company employed just 150 people, he recalls, and had no formal logistics department. Until then it had been comparatively simple as all operations were out of a single site at Smiths Falls. But as acquisitions were made in other provinces, licensing and moving the cannabis became more complex and a supply chain professional was needed.
Sly has previously worked at Prime Choice Auto Parts and Walmart Canada in leadership roles before joining Canopy Growth in April 2017.
For him, the challenge facing Canopy called to mind how the first settlers moving westward across Canada must have felt over a century ago. “There was nobody to follow, no rear-view mirror: we were the leaders!” Legalisation presented so many unknowns, and though the core product was now legal, today’s product portfolio including edibles, vapes, beverages and concentrates had yet to be formulated for a completely new market. One big unknown was how large this new retail market might become: Canopy increased production and growing capacity at this time to meet expected demand but has since modified its approach: it aims to maintain its position as the world’s leading cannabis company but growth is being carefully matched to market demand as that becomes clearer.
Flexibility and agility are qualities Sly has learned from experience, he says. He could have added a great deal of confidence, since many would have fled from some of the challenges he describes. With a CV verging on the picaresque, he has worked with construction equipment, high tech PCB manufacture, pharmaceutical products, English teaching, auto parts fulfillment (at a rate of 20,000 products a day) and large retail distribution.
Now, he is truly working in a culture that suits his personality: Canopy, he notes, gives its people the autonomy they need to reach their potential to deliver value for themselves and the organisation – it is, he says, a fun environment for someone who thrives on change. “Logistics is the heart of the company: if the heart is not pumping properly everything will shut down.”