The Sira Spotlight series focuses on one of the most interesting aspects of Sira Naturals: our people. Each month, we highlight members of our staff from across the entire organization.
In this Sira Spotlight, we are highlighting our Packaging Management Team, Robert Harris, Michael Pizzillo, Cody Young and Patty Rodrigues, to learn about their roles helping to oversee the Packaging Department.
((Pictured above from left to right: Cody Young, Patty Rodrigues, Michael Pizzillo and Robert Harris))
What is your role at Sira?
Robert: Packaging manager.
Michael: I am the Senior Assistant Packaging Manager, I handle a lot of the onboarding process for our new hires along with implementing training, SOPs and coordinating the flow of production.
Cody: Assistant Manager of the Packaging Department
Patty: I am the 2nd shift Assistant Manager in Packaging.
How long have you been a part of the Sira Team?
Robert: I joined Sira back in October of 2019.
Michael: 2 Years and 6 ½ Months!
Cody: 4 years come March 21, 2021
Patty: I started in July of 2019, almost 2 years!
What drew you to the Cannabis Industry?
Robert: After spending 13 years in the manufacturing, I decided it was time for a career change. I have always been passionate about cannabis, and I really enjoy manufacturing. So, when this opportunity arose to work in both fields, I could not turn it down.
Michael: Besides the variations of strains and smells, I had retail experience for almost 6 years in both storefronts and health facilities, so I was more than happy to be taking part in the Cannabis experience. Where I lived, Cambridge, Somerville and Needham were too far for me at the time, so I took interest in the Milford facility. I figured I have the personality for retail/customer service, so I had to challenge myself when I put in my application to Sira Naturals.
Before my employment, I used to (and continue to do so to this day) consume/use cannabis for my own medicinal purpose to help me sleep and alleviate my nausea, later on Cannabis continued to help me when I was recently diagnosed with PTSD from a car accident back in the middle of 2020. I feel I can relate to our patients and customers who suffer similar ailments and that has helped me solidify my commitment to the company and what we stand for, overall wellness.
Cody: My love for cannabis and wanting to learn the ins and outs of this industry
Patty: Curiosity at first and then after week 1 it was the amazing people that I had met and I knew that this is where I wanted to stay.
What has been your favorite accomplishment in the Packaging Department?
Robert: I would have to say the growth of not only the individuals here within my team, but the size of our team as well. We have gone from having a team of less than 20 individuals on one shift in October of 19’ to now over 70+ on two different shifts.
Michael: I managed to create a Flower Equivalency Calculator and with it consistently helping us maintain accurate/precise cannabinoids we continue to use it today.
Though I am techno dexterous, I also played a major role in getting our Pre-COVID Second Shift up and again for our current second shift now being managed by our very own, Patricia Rodrigues.
Cody: My favorite accomplishment has been being able to learn the ins and outs of the department and being able to pass down my knowledge to help my fellow coworkers.
Patty: My favorite accomplishment is managing second shift and the opportunities that I have been given by upper management.
How does Sira go about selecting new packaging?
Robert: For us in the packaging department we only care about the efficiency, when we must pack over 200K units a month the most important part is to not get caught up in the “nice to have features”. Each label is a touch each touch is time, the faster we can pack the less we have to spend on labor the better deals we can offer.
Michael: When it comes down to selecting new packaging, we have to go over a few key details that are crucial when we launch the new packaging. The Project Manager usually goes over the compliancy aspect and the design of the label/packaging, once we have the packaging finalized that is when the Packaging and Labelling department come together and discuss our next plan of executing the launch of the new packaging.
What are the easiest and hardest products to package?
Robert: Easiest= flower either 1/8ths or 1/4’s. Hardest= The wicked sour line.
Michael: The least-complicated package would have to be flower, very little hand-to-hand transfers and besides, it is the buds and popcorn nugs, so they are very easy to handle when we dispense them into drams.
The most-complicated…oh boy there are quite a few but in my personal opinion it would surprisingly be Prerolls, I mean first we need to make sure the material we have has passed testing, then we send it off to be ground, we then get it back and sift it to remove any non-smokable or potential anomalies, after that we knock it in one of our two machines, after it’s knocked we crown them, after their crowned we tube them, then label their respected tubes with the correct labels, then Kanban AND FINALLY we have a final packed Preroll(s)…very tedious and to make it even better the quality varies in different strains so it’s like playing a game of Reefer Roulette.
Patty: I would say the easiest are the Nantucket Nuggets. The hardest, Entourage Singles, it is an exceptionally long process.
What qualities and skills does one need to possess to excel in the Packaging Department?
Robert: They need to be able to retain information in between projects. We like to cross train the team, so we can respond to wholesale and retail needs as they arise.
Michael: ARRIVING ON TIME…oh sorry force of habit, but no seriously attendance is a big thing not just in our department but the company. Overall, I would say if an individual were serious in the Packaging Department, they have to be willing to be experimental with new things and not afraid of change, not to mention have a strong sense of attention-to-detail and most importantly a good sense of teamwork!
Cody: To excel in Packaging you need to be able to work well in a group or by yourself, being able to have great quality of work along with outputting large quantities. Being able to work with multiple kinds of products. Being open minded and open to change.
Patty: You learn the skills and qualities to excel in packaging by adapting and becoming flexible with people and tasks throughout the day.
What is your favorite Sira product and why?
Robert: I really enjoy the flower, the team does a great job growing and maintaining I great quality product. I will add that GG4 is my favorite smoke.
Michael: I am a very big concentrate cannasseur, I LOVE our Rosin, terpenes are my number one deciding factor when it comes to cannabis choices. I would love to see our Terp Sauce concentrates make a comeback just because they had a little more “kick” to them. 😉
Cody: Mac1 flower has a great taste and high/OR any type of Rosin
Patty: I am not a cannabis user, but my favorite smell is Pineapple Muffin Flower.
What is your favorite hobby outside of work?
Robert: Golf hands down it is my favorite hobby. I find I get to spend quality time with family and friends on the course.
Michael: My favorite thing to do outside of work mainly is playing video games, and more so if it is anything Star Wars. I also enjoy spending time with my fiancée, Jasmine, our Portuguese Podengo, Dante and our cat, Aurora. If there isn’t anything on our agenda, we’ll end up either watching movies (old and new) or if we are REALLY bored, we just go for a drive around and just enjoy the time we have together.
Patty: I love to bake, spending time with my family, and pre-covid going to concerts with friends.