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Meet the Expert: Sammie Dabbs, Executive Vice President of Sales

In our first ‘Meet the Experts’ series entry, we’re chatting with Sammie Dabbs, Executive Vice President of Sales at Hound Labs, Inc.  

A former NCAA Division 1 softball player and published author, Sammie Dabbs leads a unique and exciting life, and she’s just getting started. 

Sammie recently began her tenure as the President of the Substance Abuse Program Administrators Association (SAPAA) board of directors and is leading the Hound Labs sales team as the company introduces a first-of-its-kind breath test that detects recent cannabis use. 

Hi Sammie, thanks for joining us! You’re a drug testing solutions expert and leader of our sales team at Hound Labs. How did you get into this career field? 

I grew up in Southern California, where much of my time revolved around playing competitive softball. I ended up playing outfield for Cal State Fullerton – Go Titans! My college coach referred me for an interview at Advanced Workplace Strategies Inc. (AWSI), where I began my career in employment screening. 

I remained heavily involved in the employment screening industry by serving on multiple boards and I met Hound Labs’ Mike Lynn, CEO + Co-Founder, and Doug Boxer, Chief of Policy + Strategic Initiatives, when they were presenting at industry conferences years ago.

The biggest issue for my previous customers was cannabis testing and I was looking for a solution that would fit their needs. I got to know the Hound Labs team well and they offered me an opportunity to build the sales team here and I couldn’t pass it up. The team here is high energy and on a mission – I couldn’t ask for anything more. 

You mentioned playing Division I softball in college. How did that experience translate into the skills you use daily in your career?  

So many things with athletics correlate to business, especially sales. The way you show up to the field, the energy you bring, the way you carry yourself – all of that is very similar in business and has carried over to my career. The most important thing for me in college ball was learning more about the mental side of the game. Baseball and softball are failure sports, meaning even when you fail seven times out of 10 at the plate, you are considered an all-star hitter. I learned how to handle failure while still wanting nothing more than to win, and that’s helped me tremendously in sales and in leadership. 

We had the best sports psychologist in the business working with us at Cal State Fullerton – the late Ken Ravizza.1 So much of what I learned from him I still incorporate into my daily routine. In fact, I captured many of these lessons in a daily habits journal2 which I dedicated to him and published on Amazon earlier this year. While I wrote the journal with athletes in mind, some of our sales team now use it to enhance their routines, which has been a fun twist. 

In addition to your role at Hound Labs, you are also the current national president of the SAPAA board of directors. For readers who do not know, what is SAPAA?  

SAPAA stands for Substance Abuse Program Administrators Association.3 It is a non-profit trade association whose members represent alcohol and drug testing service agents including Third Party Administrators (TPAs), in-house administrators, Medical Review Officers (MROs), Department of Health and Human Services Certified Laboratories, Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs), manufacturers of testing devices, and collection sites/collectors.  

I started attending SAPAA’s annual conference during my first year in the industry and learned so much from the community and its members that I continue to go back year after year. SAPAA has the information employers and those supporting them need to help run their employment screening programs, including updates on certification exams, drug and alcohol testing developments, and legal and ethical issues.  

SAPAA also produces helpful webinars. I recently co-presented a webinar with Robin Schelling of Chevron titled, “A Case for Mitigating Workplace Risk: Recent Use Cannabis Testing.”4 In the session, we discuss new legislation compelling organizations to update their workplace policies and procedures. 

What makes you passionate about drug testing and specifically cannabis testing?  

I have a passion for solving problems, and cannabis testing is the number one problem employers reference over and over as I talk with them about their drug testing programs.  

We’ve seen employers removing cannabis from their testing programs only to see a corresponding upward trend in workplace safety and performance concerns. In a recent survey by the National Safety Council, nearly half of the employers who stopped cannabis testing reported an increase in safety incidents and employee performance issues.5 Removing cannabis testing doesn’t solve the problem; it simply creates blind spots and reduces an employer’s ability to provide a safe environment for their employees and customers.   

At Hound Labs, we’re introducing a first-of-its-kind test to address this need by detecting only the recent use of cannabis. The HOUND® CANNABIS BREATHALYZER gives employees privacy related to the choices they make off the clock and away from the workplace – while empowering employers to implement policies and testing aimed at deterring use immediately before or during the workday.

What common challenges do employers face with cannabis use surrounding the workday? How can Hound Labs help? 

Employers are really stuck – they are having trouble hiring and keeping employees and feel there is no option but to remove cannabis testing altogether.  

The HOUND® CANNABIS BREATHALYZER allows employers to continue testing for cannabis but in a fair manner for employees. It’s simple for employees to follow – don’t show up having used cannabis recently, and don’t use cannabis on the job site.  

As more and more candidates fail to pass traditional cannabis tests, a breath test gives employers a way to isolate use surrounding the workday. This helps in deciding whether an employee’s use and corresponding test results comply with the company’s cannabis policies.

How might employers consider adding the Hound® solution to their toolbox to deter and detect workplace substance use? 

The number one thing to remember is that workplace drug testing is about deterrence. Incorporating the HOUND® CANNABIS BREATHALYZER in an ongoing post-employment program, like pre-access or random testing, will allow employers to continue to mitigate risk on the job site while balancing fairness for their employees.  

Employers can also use the Hound® solution for post-incident, reasonable suspicion, return-to-duty, and follow-up testing – creating a holistic testing approach across the spectrum. Determining how best to apply recent use cannabis breath testing is a matter for each company to decide with their legal counsel as they work to align policies with the vision of fostering safe and fair work environments.  

For more information about implementation, check out my recent 15-minute webinar, 5 Easy Steps to Implement The HOUND® CANNABIS BREATHALYZER.

Surveys have shown increased workplace incidents after employers have removed cannabis testing. Looking to 2023, what do you think the trends will be for employer drug testing policies? 

I’ve talked with many employers and partners about the changes in testing policies they are looking to make when they implement our solution, and more and more, their concern is not if an employee uses cannabis but when the use occurs. Many employers who removed cannabis testing at pre-employment are now looking to add it back into their programs via a recent use breath test. Those who never removed it are relieved there is now a solution to test for only recent use. 

Recently, I’ve seen an increased focus on employees and their rights as more organizations implement second-chance agreements. In these programs, employees with a first-time policy violation have the option to participate in an employee assistance program or follow-up testing program rather than being immediately terminated. 

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, employers can review policies with legal counsel and discuss updating their cannabis testing methods and policy language. Many organizations are now shifting from a zero-tolerance approach to a policy prohibiting recent use that occurs immediately before or during the workday. 

Ok, we’ve talked a lot about work. What else are you passionate about?

Outside of work, I love to cook, especially middle eastern food (I’m half Lebanese). I stay active by going on an early morning walk or hitting up a local spin class. My family is everything to me, and – not to play favorites – my twin 6-year-old niece (Ashton) and nephew (Easton) make my world so bright! My boyfriend and I enjoy traveling the world, staying local at the beach, and enjoying the sunshine wherever we are. You can often find us taking our new golf cart down to the beach to grab dinner or catch a sunset. Lastly, I’m a hopelessly lousy golfer, but I’m trying to work that out. 

How can readers learn more about the HOUND® CANNABIS BREATHALYZER and contact you and your team?   

The best way to reach our team is by visiting the Connect With Sales page on our website or by emailing your specific question to sales@houndlabs.com.

About Sammie Dabbs 

Sammie Dabbs is an energizing sales leader who drives multimillion-dollar revenue through partnerships with enterprise-level organizations across multiple industries. As the Executive Vice President of Sales at Hound Labs, Inc., Sammie leads a team that effectively partners with clients to solve critical challenges related to balancing workplace safety with fairness.  

 With a dozen years of experience building solutions within employment screening programs for Fortune 500 clients, and as President-elect for the Substance Abuse Program Administrators Association (SAPAA) board of directors and previous board member of the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA), Sammie is an established drug testing solutions expert. Sammie earned her MBA from the University of Redlands and studied communications and journalism at Cal State Fullerton, where she played four years of NCAA Division I softball. 



November 3, 2022