Meet Erika Our Washington GM with a Taste for Adventure

Erika Smith isn’t afraid of a challenge. She once hiked eight miles to find someone to help her fish her car out of a stream and another time got paid a hundred bucks to embark on a daring midnight rescue mission to save a patch of prime cannabis trapped in the path of a tropical storm. So back in 2014, after helping her brother, Adam, plan Avitas’ path from the beginning, she was more than ready to hop on board with the company. Armed with meticulous attention to detail and a passion for making things work, she started off as Avitas’ Director of Human Resources and now has moved into the management of day-to-day operations at Avitas’ Washington farm as the state’s General Manager.

Making the Leap

From the beginning, Erika was in conversation with Adam as he worked to get Avitas off the ground, but her job was in a wildly different industry. She began her career in the public sector, eventually becoming a Program Director for the Employment Security Department, a worker re-education and job training program in Bellingham, WA. She didn’t realize it at the time, but sixteen years in the public sector set her up quite well for her role as General Manager.

Where others may have been overwhelmed, soon after starting her role, Erika found herself completely at home in the complex regulatory environment of I-502. She laughs looking back on it, “I came from a background that was very strict in terms of compliance, and we got audited every year. We had to dot the i’s and cross every t. So I-502 made a bizarre sort of sense to me. I immediately knew I could help.” There’s always a new mystery or puzzle to overcome every week and Erika wouldn’t have it any other way. “Everyone who works at Avitas is super passionate about our product. It’s the perfect environment to do great work because we’re all so invested.”

Keeping the Oil Flowing

That’s not to say that those first few months were easy. Avitas, like so many other producer/processors in Washington, was breaking new ground in the industry in 2014. “We were pioneers. No one knew exactly what we were doing or how the industry was going to change. We just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other to get things done.”

Today, Erika and the Avitas Washington team are facing new challenges as Avitas grows and changes. However even though her work now spans two states as she works closely with the Oregon operation, Erika is determined to keep her focus on the day-to-day aspects of her role. “It’s both exciting and daunting to see where the future is taking us. But, we’re focusing on keeping our heads down and bringing a high-quality product to Washington state customers. As we continue to grow, we need to keep doing what we’re doing just more and better.”