Cannabis Community Shaken When Large Consulting Firm Shuts Down Hastily Leaving Cultivators and Other Business Owners Stranded During the Permitting Process
The 24 local employees of Manhard Consulting who were working on February 13 inside the beautiful Carson Block building in Old Town Eureka didn’t know that they would all lose their jobs around 3 p.m. that day. According to Sarah Emlet, former employee, “It was a complete shock to us.
Representatives from corporate headquarters in Illinois came into the office and let all 24 go without warning. A press release from some of the former employees described being told they had “two hours to pack their belongings and exit the premises.” They were locked out of all computers, emails, and client databases for what had been, among other ventures, one of the biggest cannabis consulting firms in Humboldt County. “The office [staff] was not provided the opportunity to contact clients or inform them of the shutdown,” the press release said.
Clients across the community were disoriented, terrified, and angry when rumors poured throughout the community during the following week. Several described already being stressed trying to meet expenses and understand county and state regulations that changed as they tried to meet them. Now they were without the team that had been guiding them through the permit process and they didn’t know how to get information that they had paid large sums to have compiled.
“I was already having a hard time getting everything done. Now, I am freaked out,” said one client who asked not to be named told us last week.
“All of the people [the clients] were used to contacting are no longer available,” Praj White, Manhart Consulting’s former area manager explained.
The press release by the former employees noted that the “closure has the potential to affect numerous projects.”
Rumors flying through the cannabis community said that Corporate was unhappy with the amount of money brought in from the grower clients. White said, “We could never perform and produce enough for the expectations.” Recently, efforts were underway by Praj White to purchase the Eureka branch of Manhard Consulting. “I had been in negotiations about a goodwill acquisition of the entire operation,” White explained.
White said the idea had been to provide a “basically seamless transition to the clients.” But, Manhard’s action on February 13, he said, “turned this into a situation that there is all sorts of collateral damage happening.”
White and several other former Manhard employees are forming a new business, NorthPoint Consulting Group. “Our aim is to provide services beginning early March,” said a letter sent by the Group to former clients.
“What we are trying to do is quickly formulate our lawful insured business,” White explained.
He urged former clients of Manhard to contact the Corporate representatives who are still in the Carson Block and “come up with a plan to get their information as soon as they can.” He added that his former employer seemed “to be accommodating giving out all the files and the information.”
“We’re all heartbroken as I am sure the clients are,” White said. “It is emotionally difficult to be separated from all the strong people and good people we were working with…We love the community and didn’t see this coming.”
White explained that NorthPoint Consulting will not be operating out of the Carson Block.
“We are working to get back on our feet,” White said.
Attempts to reach Corporate headquarters for comment have been unsuccessful so far.