US (MN): Light shines for Minnesota-based Lift and Store, thanks to cannabis business

This article was originally published on on September 10, 2020.

Little more than a year ago, Chris Benyo, CEO of Lift and Store, was talking to his dog in the warehouse office about whether the company was going to make it.

Benyo, 59, a veteran executive, led a small group that bought the company three years ago from its founder.

Lift and Store supplies retailers such as Target and REI with automated racks to hold merchandise in warehouses and the backrooms of stores. Over 28 years, the Ramsey-based firm had done more than 10,000 such installations.

But traditional retail was in decline. And Lift and Store was burning through cash faster than it was generating new revenue.

But then a Canadian cannabis company called to ask if Lift and Store could make equipment to hoist lights automatically for cannabis plants.

“If that call from Canada hadn’t come through I think I would have shut down the company,” Benyo recalled the other day. “We had a few things in the pipeline, but at some point we weren’t going to have enough money to get there. And then, out of the blue, the phone rang.