695: As Public Perception Changes, Opportunity Advances | Louie Reformina, CFO, Turning Point Brands

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Chances are that CFO Louie Reformina never expected to be in the rolling papers business.

Having advanced down a career track populated with different private equity firms, a stint at Goldman Sachs, and a Stanford Business School degree, Reformina could have landed inside any number of industries offering him multiple C-suite doors of entry.

However, not unlike the pick-and-shovel entrepreneurs who once outfitted troves of Gold Rush prospectors, Reformina is confident that his arrival inside the CFO office at Turning Point Brands (NYSE:TPB) is well timed for an uptick in cannabis sales due to the industry’s quickly changing regulatory environment as well as public perception.

In addition to cannabis, Turning Point, a marketer and distributor of “alternative smoking accessories,” is now seeking to satisfy its appetite for growth inside a number of product categories such as cigar wraps, hemp paper and paper cones.

“The majority of our profits now come from our Zig-Zag brand of rolling papers and wraps products—we have now put fixes in place to grow the business to where we can now take advantage of the tailwinds in cannabis,” says Reformina, who first joined Turning Point as vice president of business development in 2019.

“There’s the changing regulatory framework, and then there’s the changing consumer framework,” observes Reformina, who quotes recent research showing that 7 out of 10 Americans favor legalizing cannabis at the federal level.

“The perception 10 or 20 years ago was that cannabis was a drug, whereas today there is a health and benefits perception to cannabis, and this has been accelerated in part due to the pandemic,” explains Reformina, who anticipates a domino effect in the wake of New York and Virginia joining the list of states where cannabis is already legal.

“States will just not want to lose the tax revenue that cannabis will be generating,” adds Reformina. –Jack Sweeney

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