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50 Best Companies to Watch 2019

An Interview with Sami Spiezio, Canna Group Consulting LLC CEO: ‘With Focus, Determination and Years of Experience already in this Space, I See Us an Even Bigger Contender than we are Now with the Status of Being the ‘Go-To’ in Our Industry’


“Our vision is to be a full-service financial consulting firm, not just another merchant services sales company.”

In the merchant service industry, the current culture is every-person-for-themselves. Agents are all independent sales reps that can operate independently and for many different companies without much loyalty. The Canna Group Consulting LLC, however, is quite the opposite. Although its reps are still independent agents, they work as a cohesive team, sharing emails and sales tips, assisting each other with clients and doing what it takes to bring accounts into the company. Canna Group has constant open lines of communication and weekly meetings with the reps and management to foster open discourse between the entire team.

The company specializes in electronic payment solutions for all high-risk businesses. This includes all major card brands for even harder to place merchants such as CBD and MMJ related industries. The company is also a full-service merchant processor ISO provider.

Canna Group is equipped with a committed team of experts ready to help merchants’ business succeed by giving them the ability to accept credit cards – no matter what business they are in. The company is a leader in the field and has been helping merchants improve sales and customer satisfaction since 1992.

Canna Group was incorporated in Columbus.

Sami Spiezio, Canna Group Consulting LLC Founder/CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?

I established Canna Group with the intent of taking my 25 years of experience in the merchant services industry to create a new type of company. My vision was to take all of the aspects of the industry that I did not like, confront them in a transparent discourse with merchants and offer honesty and education to help my clients understand the complex industry of electronic payments. In a world of sales tactics and sub-par service, I wanted to bring a company to market that has an ethos of truth and service in the ever-changing high-risk market space to provide payment processing solutions to merchants who were hard to place due to the type of products and/or industries they serviced.

What kind of responses have you received from your consumers over the years? How have they motivated you to shape your offerings/grow the company?

The feedback that has resonated most with me is that of the lack of customer service in our industry. Too many merchants have expressed their frustrations with receiving quality service, honesty and education to better understand the sometimes confusing nature of our products and services. It is from this that the Canna Group was formed to bridge the gap and create a company “for the people” based on what they so longed for in a merchant services provider.

There is nothing more important for a successful small business than a well-defined mission and vision statements. Can you explain your M&V statements in brief?

Our Mission is to consult and empower business within the dynamically changing high-risk merchant service industries to understand how to implement full electronic payments into their operation plan.

Our vision is to be a full-service financial consulting firm, not just another merchant services sales company.

People in this day and age are tired of robotic phone calls and lack of customer service. We want to return to the days of ‘mom and pops-style-business’ where our merchants get hands-on quality customer service. Canna Group will strive to offer the hands-on customer service to merchants that lacks in the industry. Too many salespeople only touch their merchants one time to get the application and then pass the buck to the processors and banks to handle the rest. We will take the opposite approach and that is to stay with the customer all the way through the process until the account is activated and work on their behalf communicating with the processors and banks to ensure a seamless transaction.

An organization is defined by its core values. What are your company’s core values and how are they helping you to succeed?

Canna Group’s two core pillars that define our business ethos are honesty and transparency. With the current climate of the American business market, greed and competition trump all as businessmen and women are chasing their ever-increasing production expectations with hitting budget as their first priority, not servicing their client. We have all been in a situation in which we have been “sold” something that later turned out to not be what we expected. No one likes to be treated this way and manipulated into a bad decision. It is with this old school mentality; a person is only as good as their word that we at Canna Group offer our merchants 100 percent honesty and transparency with all their business dealings. It is better to lose a sale now through the honesty of which will then create a long-term client when we can then call them back at a later date with a solution that truly fits their needs.

What are the factors that make your brand one of the ‘Best’ companies?

It goes back to our two pillars that define our business ethos: Honesty and transparency. Let’s start with our people. We only partner with the most integrity driven individuals we can find, to act on our behalf. These young men and women are who and what makes a company strong and worthy of recognition; couple that with my 25 years of experience in the industry. It is a winning combination of talent, integrity, experience and commitment to serving our customers and changing the game in the merchant services industry from cut-throat sales to cooperation and transparency with the customer’s needs trumping all.

How do you stay relevant to the consumer interests and needs in this highly volatile market?

As a student of my industry, part of my responsibilities to my corporate entities over the year has been that of a visionary with a very clear understanding of what the future was to hold for the payment industry, allowing us to stay ahead of the curve and therefore the competition. The first two hours of my day is spent reading what’s changed in the industry since I laid my head down to rest the night before.

Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

With focus, determination and years of experience already in this space, I see us an even bigger contender than we are now with the status of being the ‘Go-to’ in our industry. When I am not running Canna Group, I am also the President and founder of the American Kayaking Association (AKA). As a national non-profit, the AKA strives to create and maintain safe access points and provide clear passage of all America’s waterways through environmental stewardship, education, and activism to create opportunities for all people to celebrate our country’s expansive network of aquatic natural resources. I see the Canna Group donating a large portion of our profits to fund this great organization. The long term mission is to accelerate America’s growing passion for paddle sports and transform the paddling community into an educated and connected, a conservation-based culture of stewardship for our most precious resource; Water.

Sami Spiezio: A Formidable Leader

Sami Spiezio has been in the Payment Processing Industry since 1992 and is currently the CEO of Canna Group. Having worked in the initial stages of the ATM revolution he was responsible for placing one of the first remote ATM’s in the region. Furthermore, he was instrumental in the design and implantation of the Alliance One No Sur-charge program still in use today. After a long tenure at Netcom as a Senior Vice President, Sami made the decision to start his own company founded on his life ethos of truth, honesty and transparency.

“Our Mission is to consult and empower business within the dynamically changing high-risk merchant service industries to understand how to implement full electronic payments into their operation plan.”