The Road Less Travelled- J.P. Howard
J.P. Howard has served as the linchpin to the conversion of Tweed’s Smiths Falls plant since the doors first opened in 2014. A carpenter by trade, he’s been involved in every aspect of the building’s retrofit, first as site supervisor for a local construction company and, since October, as Tweed’s Building Manager. From vacant chocolate factory to vibrant marijuana facility, the company’s construction has been a cradle rocked day and night by J.P.’s hand.
Like most of the men and women on the Tweed team, he was drawn to medical cannabis for personal reasons long before the thought of enterprising the culture became an option. From a young age, he watched his uncle try to tame unforgiving symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis with pills of every colour of the rainbow. Only cannabis ever helped.
“Having my uncle use cannabis to treat his MS for so many years really opened my eyes to it. I saw how it helped him and believe it’s going to help a lot of other people too,” he says. “We have a purpose, we’re not just here to make some money. We’re making a difference and it’s amazing to be a part of something I grew up around.”
Native to the shores of the Tay River in Perth, an idyllic Eastern Ontario tourist town of 6,000 just twenty minutes from Tweed’s Smiths Falls headquarters, J.P. was raised the eldest of four by his mother and late step-father, who he credits for instilling in him a strong work ethic. J.P. remembers fondly long days swinging axe in the bush alongside his admirable step-dad, a leatherworker and arborist who taught his children to make moccasins and dream catchers.
When J.P.’s mother divorced and moved to Rockland, it emboldened the enraged-14-year-old to strike out on the path less travelled. The course proved for the teen a winding, fruitless venture from the onset. He stayed back to carve out a new life for himself in Smiths Falls and, bouncing between apartments and odd jobs, quickly found himself in trouble with the law. By 16, he was serving a stretch at a juvenile detention centre in Brockville.
“That was kind of the lifestyle that drove my teenage years. Because they [his parents] were gone and I needed to make money, I turned to wrong ways of doing it,” he remembers. “It was a little bit of a rough path.”
Despite the odds, J.P. turned his life around in 2001. He says the time came to put his past to bed. As an adult, the 31-year-old hasn’t even been slapped with a parking ticket. A trusted and respected member of the Tweed team, J.P. is a Responsible Person In Charge (RPIC) in our facility. He doesn’t run the stop signs of this life anymore.
With the gumption to return and finish high school via correspondence in his early 20s, he showed a spirit that characterized his career to come. After graduation he partnered with close friends to start a drywall company in Kanata, a suburb west of Ottawa, and earned a customer base that stretched across the National Capital Region. The years folded into themselves as his maturity and experience translated to bigger and better opportunities.
In 2006, he started as a labourer with Smiths Falls-based Guy Saumure & Sons, where he worked four years before being given an opportunity to supervise reconstruction of the town’s youth arena at the Smiths Falls Memorial Community Centre. The project has been a celebrated high point for a community that has in recent years dealt with the economic hardships linked to the closing of Hershey’s and the Rideau Regional Centre, among other local businesses.
After turning over a number of projects on time and on budget, including the Rideau Lakes banquet hall and a retrofit of the Brockville Hospital, J.P. found himself leading the conversion of a beloved former chocolate factory to a cutting-edge medical marijuana grow-op. It wasn’t long before he was being scouted for the role of plant supervisor.
He’d spent almost 10 years with Saumure’s when opportunity came ringing. Still, a deep sense of loyalty kept him from immediately jumping ship and a number of months passed after first being asked to join the Tweed team before he conceded. By the time Tweed founder Bruce Linton called on him for the the third or fourth time, J.P. was finally ready to answer.
“When you have the CEO of a world-leading company calling you on his cellphone saying, ‘Hey, what’s it going to take to get you here?’ it was a huge deal for me,” he says. “It was a huge compliment. This was a lot more than a job offer – it was an opportunity to be part of something big.”
Here’s to Future Growth!
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