Cannacurio Podcast Episode 25 with Tom Bruggeman and Mike Bracewell of Tom’s Tumbler
In the latest episode of the Cannacurio Podcast from Cannabiz Media, my co-host, Amanda Guerrero, and I discuss new license data for California, Michigan, and Oklahoma that has been added to the Cannabiz Media License Database. We also speak with Tom Bruggeman and Mike Bracewell of Tom’s Tumbler, the manufacturer of Tom’s Tumblers and the new PYTHON dry trimmers. Tom is the inventor of the Tom’s Tumbler trimmer machine and president of Tom’s Tumblers, and Mike (Mikey B) is the company’s Northern California sales representative.
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Cannacurio Podcast Episode 25 Transcript
Amanda Guerrero: Welcome to the Cannacurio Podcast powered by Cannabiz Media. We are your hosts, Amanda Guerrero and Ed Keating. Today, we have a great show ahead for all of you guys. We are joined by the wonderful team at Tom’s Tumbler. We have the honor of having Tom Bruggeman and Mike Bracewell on with us.
Tom is the inventor and president of Tom’s Tumbler and Mikey B is the Northern California sales rep here with the team. They’re also a Cannabiz Media subscriber, and we are so, so excited to have them on the show. But as always, we’re going to check in with Ed and see what he has for us today on the data front.
Ed Keating: All right, Amanda. So as you know, I’ve been spending a lot of time working on the point of sale report. And so that has allowed Jason Kikel, our director of regulatory research, to fill in with some blog posts. So we’ve got some great content on testing schemes in a variety of markets that have now started to introduce testing licenses, and he’s also done a great post on the upcoming election. So hopefully, we’re going to get him on the pod as well as a guest because he’s got a lot of great stuff to talk about.
And then on the data side, we brought in a lot of information from Michigan, a whole bunch of additions, Oklahoma as well, another 185 licenses if you can believe it. And then in California, we brought in new licenses, and we also remapped some of the licenses descriptions so that they’re a little more consistent and easier to work with. So a lot going on from the data team, Amanda.
Amanda Guerrero: Yeah, no kidding. And no surprise, California, Oklahoma, and Michigan have added more licenses this year.
Ed Keating: Exactly.
Amanda Guerrero: Yeah. All right. Well, everybody let’s take a quick commercial break. When we come back, we’ll jump into our interview with Tom Bruggeman and Mikey B of Tom’s Tumbler. Stay tuned. All right. Welcome back to the show. Tom, Mikey B, welcome, welcome. It’s so nice to have you. How’s everybody doing?
Tom Bruggeman: Fantastic, but could I quickly correct the pronunciation of my name?
Amanda Guerrero: Oh my goodness, of course you can. My apologies.
Tom Bruggeman: It’s Tom Bruggeman.
Amanda Guerrero: Bruggeman. Got it. Bruggeman okay.
Tom Bruggeman: Yeah. Okay.
Mike Bracewell: How are you guys doing?
Amanda Guerrero: Good, Mikey. Thanks so much for joining us. So Tom, I want to direct the first question to you. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Have you always wanted to be the king of cannabis trimming?
Tom Bruggeman: Actually not. I actually had a career as a stuntman for 30 years and planned on retiring and playing golf with whatever my hips had left from all the stunts. But over the years, I was inventing a variety of other products as a hobby and made some money on some of them and got some patents on some of them.
And then, some of my friends were trimming and growing in the San Fernando Valley here over the years, and so I started learning about it. So I applied my inventive ways and came up with the Tom’s Tumbler.
I actually came up with it by throwing a few pounds of dried cannabis into a fishing net and started shaking it. And then, I walked back in and showed my friends and they were like, Oh my God, how’d you trim that so fast?
They were amazed. And it looked really good, but it was a little bit too aggressive and too labor-intensive. And that’s when I came up with the idea of the Tom’s Tumblers and tested that out and started a website. And within a day we sold one hand crank. This was seven and a half years ago. And then within six months we sold 500 hand cranks.
And then we were off to the races from there and changing and putting motors on them and funnel flows and liquid CO2. And now, we’ve advanced to the Python, which is a continuous feed machine when the original ones were batch machines. And so I haven’t always… A matter of fact, I hate to admit this, I guess, to my audience, but I’ve never smoked cannabis. It’s, been a hobby and now a business for me in creating products for the industry.
Amanda Guerrero: Wow. That’s fascinating. It sounds like the cannabis industry, though, is a perfect place for your invention-oriented brain. Now, Mikey B, you’re originally from Humboldt, and from what I’ve learned, you’re also a grower. What made you come over to the trimming side of things? Why did you join the Tom’s Tumbler team?
Mike Bracewell: So basically, I think it was about three and a half years ago, a friend of mine, I had some product that I had forgotten about and I stashed it underneath my house. And when I found it, it was like time was of the essence to get it trimmed before the new harvest came.
So my friend had a machine kind of like Tom’s, but it wasn’t Tom’s. And I used it. And then I started looking online trying to find that machine, and I couldn’t find it. The only machine I could find was Tom’s and it looked just like it. So I purchased it on site and-
Amanda Guerrero: Oh, wow.
Mike Bracewell: Yeah, and literally in the next two weeks, I showed at least 15 of my friends, and 11 out of the 15 bought the machine onsite. So then I just started telling everybody to call Tom’s, and tell them Mikey B sent them. And that’s pretty much how I got into it.
Amanda Guerrero: That’s great. I love it. Very classic cannabis old school referral network. Like this equipment works, say Mike B sent you. I love it. I love it. Well, guys, we’ve had other cultivation tech equipment companies on the show before, and I wanted to ask, what sets Tom’s Tumbler apart from the rest?
Tom Bruggeman: Well, just regarding Mike, you having a friend have another model that was similar to ours, it was a guy that copied me, and it was infringing on my patented technology. And so instead of going after him, we decided to make a better product at a better price and have better service. And then that guy ended up going out of business, but he did copy our original model, which we’ve advanced on a lot since then. But getting back to your question, I’m sorry, what was it again?
Amanda Guerrero: No worries. I think you just answered it a little bit here, but we were trying to see what sets you guys apart from the other companies that are out there?
Tom Bruggeman: Well, I think one of the biggest things is exactly what I just said. We have a product that works and a product that’s reasonably priced. It’s typically much lower price than any of the other machines on the market. And one of my keys is to have impeccable service, which includes me talking to all my customers on a regular basis and giving referrals to them, to other growers where they can help each other out, informing them and educating them, especially the new growers on being more successful.
And so I try to be as open and helpful to all of my customers in any way that I can. And I found that we’ve created quite loyal base of customers, especially because our machines work. And then after you run them and you run your product through and you touch it up, people can’t tell the difference between hand trim stuff and the stuff that was run through our machines. And that’s why we’ve been successful, Amanda.
Ed Keating: That’s great. That’s great. So-
Tom Bruggeman: Ed, sorry.
Ed Keating: No, that’s okay. I’m curious as to what the selling process is like. You mentioned that when you kicked off, you had a website and started taking orders like crazy. You’ve got the awesome Mikey B there funneling your leads as he was coming on board, but is it a combination of the web, direct sales, resellers? How do you bring these orders into your company?
Tom Bruggeman: Well, that is an excellent question. We make videos. That’s really important to explain and show people in a video why and how our machines trim differently than the other bladed machines. And that is our machines we’ve created a gentle environment for the flowers to gently roll and rub against each other, which allows them to trim each other instead of having blades cutting. And that allows the structure of the flowers and the integrity of the flowers to be maintained and nothing is cut off.
So when we can educate them and do a demo to show them, because most people don’t even really believe that a bladeless trimmer can trim well. But after we do a demo, we have a 99% closing rate in selling a machine. And so as far as the other platforms, of course, we have the SEO and we have Google AdWords and we have obviously marketing at trade shows and any way that we can we’re trying to market ourselves.
Ed Keating: Great, great, well, those all sound like really effective tactics to get in there. So, one thing that I am curious about is that I’ve heard that in this space, when companies like yours go to a cultivator, you can sometimes run into what I’d call tension in between the chief operating officer and the grow team. The grow team wants to do everything by hand, let’s say, and the operations guy or gal wants to get everything done inexpensively. How do you handle this high-tech versus high touch kind of a tension?
Tom Bruggeman: Well, that is an excellent question. We do run into that type of friction until we do a demo in front of the grower and in front of the operations person, who’s trying to save money for the company and lowering the labor costs. Because when we do a demo, they’re in shock of how fast our machines can trim and how well they trim and with a minimal touch-up, they see that it’s just like it was hand trimmed from the beginning. So it’s like the operations person looks at the grower and says, why do we have to spend all this money on hand trimming when we can have the exact same thing using Tom’s Tumblers and his Pythons.
But we do run into that, but we overcome it by doing a demo and a lot of convincing to let us do a demo, because a lot of times, the growers are very resistant to having any machines touch their product, but because our flowers trim each other, and there’re no blades involved, we can pretty quickly convince them to at least allow us to do a demo.
Ed Keating: That’s great. That’s great. Now, one of the things that I noticed in learning about your company is essentially the ability to reach Tom any time. And here at Cannabiz Media, we actually have a similar approach where I’m one of the co-founders, and Larry and I are always available, always responding to customers.
What has that been like for you and your team? Because we get a lot of benefit out of it. People are appreciative, and they like that they can get their questions answered. How does that work out for you? And how has that helped you build your brand?
Tom Bruggeman: Yeah, I think in this day and age, I hear people telling me all the time that they can’t believe number one, that they’re getting a live person on the line. And number two, the inventor and founder of the company on the line and someone who really cares about what they’re doing, and I truly do care.
It’s not completely ulterior motives to get sales. I care about helping these growers because there’s a variety of different reasons that they’re growing besides making money. And a lot of people do use it for medicinal purposes and Vietnam vets and first responders going through a lot of stress and stuff. And I do care about things above and beyond selling.
Ed Keating: Yeah, absolutely. So Mikey B, a question for you. You’re out in the marketplace, you’re out there in Humboldt, I’m curious as you look across your prospects, suspects, customers, what market segmentation do you see is, is there outdoor versus indoor? Are there different state markets? And are there any hemp opportunities as well? I was curious about that too. So a bunch of questions for you, Mikey B.
Mike Bracewell: Yes. I would say across the board from hemp to cannabis, it’s like Tom said, as soon as somebody sees the machine in action, it literally, you can see the wheels start to spin because literally, it’s a game changer. It’s straight up… Has changed my life in many different avenues from being able to trim up my own flower by myself in two weeks versus taking three to four months.
And then it spreads like wildfire. Most of my friends and the people that I know… I’m born and raised up here, and my name is getting out more and more and more. And I get calls on a daily to do demos. And I cruise all over Northern California, and I’ve made some of the best connects and relationships with these people, because I’ve literally… I’ll go out, show them a demo.
And then like Tom says, answer any questions and try and help them out as best as I can. And if we ever run into somebody that’s not super convinced, then I just start asking simple questions. Like how many pounds do you think you’re going to have? How many workers do you have? What’s your overhead and how much you’re going to spend? And then we do the demo and then I crunch the numbers and you can… Like I said, the wheels start spinning.
And then everybody starts calling their friends and they’re like, “Dude, you got to check this out. This machine’s ridiculous.” And that’s how it’s gone. Tom called me and offered me a job three months after I got my first Tom’s. The first four places I went, my friends literally bought my machine off me and wouldn’t let me leave without me selling them the machine, because they needed it right then and there.
Ed Keating: Wow. Wow. Yeah. You got to put the NFS, not for sale, on your demo units, I think. Right. No, that’s great. It’s one of those things too, based on what you described, where it’s that classic – you’ve got a problem, I’ve got a solution, let’s talk you through that ROI. And suddenly it would seem surprising for somebody not to buy it at that point, because it looks like the economics workout really well.
And that leads to my last question, and once again, it’s a little bit about business market segmentation. In looking at your product mix, it appears to me on the ignorant side that you cover growers who might be micro producers all the way up to what looks to be maybe big industrial growers. So are you really covering essentially the whole cultivation market from tiny to gigantic?
Mike Bracewell: I believe so. It’s with the Pythons. The Pythons can do an astronomical amount of pounds in an hour, which on the grand scheme of things, in my head, if I were going to get licensed and I had a goal of growing 5,000 pounds in a year, whether it be hemp or cannabis, in my head, the first thing that I’m going to think about is, “Okay, where am I going to hang all this? How am I going to dry all this? And then how am I going to get through it in an efficient manner without breaking the bank?”And there really is no other machine on the market that even compares to Tom’s machines. It’s affordable, it gets the job done, it’s gentle. You can run your indoor or your outdoor. It doesn’t matter, it’s a machine for everybody to use.
It just depends on what your goals are and what you’re trying to accomplish within your company and the people around you. Because even from the small backyard, mom and pop farmers, all the way up to the people that do acres and acres of hemp, every single person that I’ve talked to, they’ve literally tried almost every other machine on the market. And as soon as they get to Tom’s, it just becomes a no-brainer because it’s affordable and it gets it done, and it can do it on multiple levels from small to ridiculously big farms.
Ed Keating: Yeah. Well, the other thing that I love about your story and your contribution to this business is, you come with the practitioner’s perspective. You grow. You use these products. You’re like, “Listen, I’ve been using them for years, and that’s why I stand behind them and that’s why I sell them.”
And I would imagine that’s a pretty powerful part of the brand promise when you show up and they know that you’re using this to run your business and to run your grow. So that’s really awesome.
Mike Bracewell: Yeah. 100%. I actually couldn’t be more stoked on working with Tom because it truly is one of the few products that I’ve seen in this industry that works, works well, and doesn’t destroy your product. And that right there in itself, because I’ve used every other trim machine on the market and nothing compares to this machine.
Ed Keating: That’s great. That’s great.
Amanda Guerrero: I love it. Well, you’ve heard it here first folks from Mikey B, straight from the grower’s mouth, the Tom’s Tumbler, he highly endorses it. And guys, I wanted to take a look into 2021, right. Are there any new products or improvements that we can look forward to from the Tom’s Tumbler team or perhaps any new inventions, Tom?
Tom Bruggeman: Oh my God. You must-
Amanda Guerrero: That you can talk about.
Tom Bruggeman: You’re reading my mind because I did want to mention that we do have some inventions that are in the works that will hopefully… There’s some certain aspects of the processing that it really bottlenecks the production, and one of them is de-leafing the water leaves off the flowers before they went to trimming machines.
So I have a solution to that that we’re developing, and then also, the other big bottleneck is bucking the flowers off of the plants. And right now, the only machines that are on the market are machines that don’t… There are some on the market, but they destroy the product, but the only other machines that don’t destroy the product for the most part are the machines where you have to put in one branch at a time to take off the flowers. And I have a solution I’m working on that we’ll be able to strip whole plants at a time without destroying the flowers.
Amanda Guerrero: Wonderful. That’s awesome. Myself, I just got back from a vacation home where my parents are actually growing, if you can believe it. My dad’s a former police officer, but we just had a week of harvest and doing everything by hand, I’m not afraid of hard work, but oh my gosh, it’s a tedious process. And I’m so glad that companies like you guys exist.
Tom Bruggeman: Thank you. Yeah, we’re very, very surprised how everything has taken off in the arena for both cannabis and hemp. And getting back to your question about hemp. Hemp are big machines. We’ve sold a tremendous amount of Pythons to the hemp industry because they’re allowed to do much higher volumes than THC.
And we were lucky that we were the only one that had a large volume trimming option. The rest of the machines were geared towards low volumes. And so we got lucky there, but we’re very happy that this industry is exploding, and we’re also very lucky that it’s exploding and we’re coming up with good options and we’re helping people save money.
Amanda Guerrero: Yeah, absolutely. Now looking at the industry itself, virtual MJBiz, they just announced earlier this month that we’re going to be completely virtual, will we see you guys there?
Tom Bruggeman: I believe so. I think that’s on our calendar. Yeah. You’re talking about the one that’s usually in Vegas?
Amanda Guerrero: Yep, exactly.
Tom Bruggeman: Yep. Matter of fact, we’ve already paid, so we’re definitely-
Amanda Guerrero: Yeah, exactly. We’ve already paid though that we’re supposed to go and had our booths booked a year in advance. I’m excited. I’ve been enjoying the virtual shows as well.
Well guys, thank you so much for this wonderful conversation. Tom, Mikey B, it really has been a pleasure speaking with you both. We look forward to seeing you at MJBiz virtual and hopefully sometime next year.
Tom Bruggeman: Yeah. I just want to say one last thing, Amanda, that Mikey B has been a huge asset to our company because he’s such an experienced grower and he can talk the language to the farmers and they trust him because he is an experienced grower, like you said earlier today, but he’s just a huge asset and we’re really happy to have him. Anyway, thanks for being on Mikey. We appreciate it.
Mike Bracewell: Hey Tom. Thank you, man. I appreciate you.
Amanda Guerrero: Aw. I love the love. That’s so sweet. All right, guys, let’s take a quick look ahead for Cannabiz Media and what we’ve got to look forward to from the data vault. Ed.
Ed Keating: All right. Well, as I mentioned, we’re finishing up the point of sale report, and Amanda and I are going to be talking about that at NCIA webinar next week on Wednesday, 11:30 Pacific Time, 12:30 Mountain, and 2:30 Eastern. So be sure to check it out. And we’re also working on updated reports on retailers and dispensaries nationwide, as well as cultivation licenses.
Amanda Guerrero: I love it. Yep. If you guys are curious or interested, we’ll have a link to the NCIA webinar, as well as there’ll be a couple of marketing pushes on Monday and Wednesday. So definitely be on the lookout for that, but everyone, thanks so much for tuning in. This is the Cannacurio Podcast and we are your hosts Amanda Guerrero and Ed Keating. Stay tuned for more updates from the data vault.