Building a new industry and a new business with Zenefits

Pacific Expeditors

Industry Cannabis
Location California
Customer since 2018
Employees 11-50
Platform Tools Used

Chris Coulombe has built his life around being prepared and doing the right thing for the right reasons. The only thing that he would have never pictured—but is now totally invested in—is his current role as CEO of Pacific Expeditors, a two-part business that provides regulatory consulting and distribution for California’s newly legalized cannabis industry.

In just 18 months of operation, he’s put the business on track to represent 20% of the state’s cannabis industry. And, he’s scaled a team from 1 to 40: no small trick to hire people for an industry that didn’t exist two years ago. Core to his strategy: use technology, such as Zenefits, to help him reliably grow and manage the business.

Business issue

Pacific Expeditors (or PacEx) needed a simple and intuitive solution that Chris could manage himself to scale and interface with other technologies he’d need for his growing business.


With massive growth requiring Chris to hire a distributed team of drivers, consultants, warehouse staff, sales and administrative support—an average of more than two new people a month for his first 18 months of business— he relied heavily on Zenefits to standardize and scale his hiring and onboarding.

Speed to market with the right team and itnsights

“If I had to do HR and all of the manual process things that go with it, I would be months behind. My background is in the military, which is all about efficiency. Zenefits is built for me. Doing it all in a few clicks is a huge competitive advantage.”

Now, Chris can make a job offer through Zenefits, and as soon as a new employee accepts, the system will ensure they get the company handbook, all the required documents they need to sign and even set them up on the company Gmail account.

Zenefits is plug-and-play easy. Even running a report like salary, by department would have taken a week and major effort with bookkeeping; now it takes me four minutes and that is with a slow internet connection!

Chris Coulombe

Further, he uses Zenefits mobile access to time and attendance to help his team to track everything from their time on-the-job to submitting time-off requests. Then he uses all the reports built into the platform to assess how his business is performing to keep his budget on track with his needs.

Powering a new market and new business simultaneously

“I absolutely require systems to make this business work,” added Chris. “Certain scenarios can only occur due to systems preceding it: there couldn’t have been a car without the wheel, for example. I couldn’t meet my aggressive growth plans without Zenefits.”

For Chris, managing and adapting a brand new business to a brand new market requires incredible focus and agility. He’s dialed in on everything from equitable hiring and compensation to ensuring his own practices are meeting compliance, with the leverage of Zenefits HR Library, Zenefits’ database of legal requirements and HR best practices.

Yet even the best-laid plans in disruptive new industries sometimes need to wait for reality to catch up with aspirations.

For example, Chris plans to leverage most of the Zenefits platform including Performance Management and Benefits to grow his team across the state and perhaps across the nation and internationally in coming years. But he currently can’t leverage Zenefits Payroll because cannabis is not legalized at a federal level and banks will not (yet) support automated payroll. So, for the time being, this fast-growth, well managed and technically savvy business still has more untapped solutions available for them on Zenefits.

Sometimes even innovators can’t wait for all of the systems to be in place.