“I moved to Mendocino County from San Diego in 1982. I felt beach areas weren’t the best place to raise my five daughters. My parents were here and I wanted to live in the country,” Shaw explains. Shaw speaks openly—something new and very restorative for those who have been part of the cannabis industry prior to legalization. “When I got here, I discovered the most incredible pot I’d ever seen. I was awestruck. The first 8 or 10 people I met were all organic farmers. I fell in love with their product and I wanted to learn how to grow it,” he continues.
“I went on a quest for the perfect location, the best strains, the perfect way to farm. It was an ever-blossoming learning experience and lots of fun, minus the helicopters flying overhead!” he laughs. “I harvested my first crop in the fall of 1982—two plants, which yielded three pounds. I was very timid, because at that time, people were imprisoned for growing even two plants.”
Shaw was stunned by his gardening success. “I’d grown enough medicine for my wife and myself, and from there, I never looked back.” Shaw worked for a construction company through the late 1980s and 90s. “I invested in and restored an Alameda property. Six months later, I sold it for almost double. I’d found my calling. I jumped into buying houses head first.”
At that time, Ukiah only had one cannabis gardening supply store. “I got to know the fellow who owned it. I realized the margins were incredible, and demand was already outpacing supply. In 2005, I took the money from the last house I sold and invested it into Hydro Pacific.” Shaw and his partner Jesse Hutchins developed a thriving business that employs 19 people. Staff expands during the bustling outdoor growing season.
Cannabis gardening stores have become a focal point for the industry. “We sorted out the snake oil from the emerging science. We handed farmers the latest technology to help them grow the best possible plants.” Grateful growers responded quickly. “We were extremely busy from the day we opened, and some of that is due to our excellent staff. I believe we have the most knowledgeable staff in Northern California. We go out of our way to have staff get schooled one-on-one with different industry professionals. I always tell our employees, ‘Don’t wing it if you don’t know the answer to someone’s problem. The last thing farmers need is bad advice. We will find the answer.’”
Hydro Pacific is not just a place to get the best products for the best price, says Shaw. They strive to encourage customers to utilize products and employ methods that result in clean, superior cannabis that is worthy of the region’s reputation. “Mendocino County is the cannabis hub of the country. We grow the highest quality medicine anywhere on the planet. The soil, the latitude and the dry summers produce nice, dense flowers that mature without excessive amounts of moisture.”
For Shaw, a medical cannabis patient, clean, safe medicine is a necessity. “Our staff understands biological methods and organic growing. Plants are just like us. If you eat poorly and overuse antibiotics, you’re not building your immune system. It’s the same with plants. If you give them what they need—good food and clean water—their structure is better. Organic farmers rarely end up with mites, molds, bad bacteria and heavy metals. We pride ourselves in having organic solutions for people who want to grow ethically and responsibly.”
The store caters to a variety of customers with differing needs. “We serve indoor and outdoor farmers. We serve novices interested in medical cannabis who want to learn how to take care of themselves and the best product with the least amount of effort. And of course we serve commercial growers. The majority of our customers are awesome people, but like any business, we do see a few that just don’t care. That’s typical of American capitalism,” he smiles.
Shaw is dedicated to bettering his community. He cannot count the number of Hydro-Pacific-sponsored fundraisers and community events that have taken place over the past 12 years. “This is where we live. That is what sets us apart. It matters that we have Fourth of July Fireworks, Concerts in the Park, a holiday ice skating rink in downtown Ukiah.” Along with sponsoring about 10 different youth sports teams, Shaw pays his employees a living wage and provides full medical insurance. “We are a viable part of this community. We strive to be part of the solution, not the problem.”
“We want people to know Mendocino County is the place to get the best, and we are here to help make that happen,” Shaw concludes.
For information visit www.hydropacific.com or phone (707) 467-0400.