The job market for veterans can be tough.
But at Iron Protection Group, a security and protection service for the cannabis industry, we have made hiring veterans a cornerstone of our corporate culture and our business model. As veterans ourselves, we understand what it’s like to struggle to find the right fit in the civilian workforce, how rare it is to find employers who understand the special benefits of hiring veterans, and the special concerns of these employees.
But what’s truly important to us is setting a clear path for professional development and advancing careers. And that’s why we look at these entry-level jobs for veterans as springboards to propel them to their next career stop, whether it’s with us or another company.
Everyone who comes on board at IPG starts in the same place: as a dispensary security guard. But we don’t want this particular job to turn into a lifetime career choice. We want to see employees move up—either with us or beyond us.
We see it as our responsibility to the veteran community to help our employees develop professionally. Our goal is to help veterans build career experiences, sustainable lives, new skill-sets and a clear vision for their future.
To help our staff understand what moving up in the company looks like, we open our weekly management meetings to all, so everyone can see how we operate our cannabis security business. They learn the good, bad and exactly what it takes to run a business. This transparency allows employees to get in tune with our company and make a choice: “I think I want to be a part of this and do what it takes to be promoted.” Or alternatively, “This isn’t really for me in the long term, and I’m going to move on to my next step.”
We’re more than OK with veteran employees using their time at IPG to step up and prepare themselves to move onto something else. We want their time with us to improve their lives in multiple ways, and we consciously create an environment that provides stability and educational opportunities. For example, we make sure to accommodate schedules so employees can get to their Veterans Affairs appointments or attend college classes.
If someone decides they want to move up instead of moving on, they often become a courier, handling cash transport and closely interacting with various business clients. We see this position as an introduction to management. It’s our employee saying they want to stay with the company, and us saying, “We know we can trust you.”
From there they might become a site manager, enter an operational position, or become part of the expansion team, helping manage, create, or build divisions in other regulated markets
If employees are still doing the entry-level cannabis security guard position after three or four years, they are not hitting the goal of up or out, and we make a point of having conversations about moving on. But don’t take that the wrong way: It’s not about kicking someone to the curb.
One aspect of moving on that’s incredibly important to me and IPG Director of Operations Caleb Patton is entrepreneurial mentorship, whether they’re pursuing a career in cannabis or other business sectors.
We had an employee who said he wanted to start a gunsmithing business. So Caleb talked with him about what it might take to reach that goal and how we might be able to help. He walked the employee through things like how to register a business with the state and local government, get a Tax ID number and general entrepreneurship. We want to share our knowledge about starting a business because there’s definitely a steep learning curve.
We understand our fellow veterans and the sacrifices they’ve made during their service, and that’s why we’re so intent on creating opportunities for them in the civilian world, starting with opening up options in our own company.