Cannabis Capitalist: Scotts Miracle-Gro CEO Bets Big On Pot Growers

 In Lifestyle

Strapped into the pilot’s seat of his private jet, Scotts Miracle-Gro CEO Jim Hagedorn thrusts the throttle forward and hurtles down the runway, a typical start to the day for the former F-16 fighter pilot, who commutes 500 miles from his home on Long Island, N.Y. to his office outside Columbus, Ohio. For an hour and a half every morning and every afternoon, Hagedorn sits behind the control stick of his plane, pushes the seat back and lets his mind run wild.

His latest idea: “Invest, like, half a billion in the pot business,” he yells over the roar of two engines powering his camouflaged Cessna Citation. “It is the biggest thing I’ve ever seen in lawn and garden.”

No one has a better perspective on the lawn and garden business than Hagedorn, who, after watching his father build Miracle-Gro into a national brand, orchestrated its merger with Scotts in 1995 and took over as CEO of the combined company in 2001. Scotts Miracle-Gro, which makes almost all of its money selling grass seed, fertilizer, pesticide and dirt, boosted revenues 80% from 2001 to 2009, riding on the coattails of Home Depot, Lowe’s and Wal-Mart as the retailers built more than 3,000 big boxes across the country. But then the Great Recession hit, and the rapid expansion stalled. Scotts Miracle-Gro’s sales have been stagnant ever since. That hit home for Hagedorn and his family, who collectively own a 27% stake that makes up $1.1 billion of their nearly $1.5 billion fortune. Frustrated with the flatlining business, Hagedorn fired more than half his management, shook up his board and gambled heavily on pot growers.

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