PM Growers nurtures 2,400 cannabis plants annually at its indoor facility in Bangor, Mich. The plants grown for the company’s medical cannabis patients require a stable cultivation ecosystem, a necessity that controlled climate system provider Surna delivers with reliability.
“We’ve been working them for about a year-and-a-half,” says PM Growers co-owner Rick Taylor. “We did a lot of research before deciding to purchase with them. I traveled the country talking to other growers, and they were quite pleased with the savings they got with Surna.”
Surna, based in Boulder, Colo., has been designing climate systems and controls for the cannabis industry since 2006. The company's MEP (mechanical, engineering and plumbing) design and products keep cultivation facilities clean and prevents contamination.
PM Growers uses a suite of Surna products, including dehumidifiers, fan coil units and chillers. The company enjoyed immediate results via lower electric bills and a welcome downturn in its CO² emissions. Surna chiller compressors alone have decreased the company’s wintertime electric bills by up to 20%.
“They have a really good team of people,” Taylor says. “We had some early issues with temperature gauges on their equipment, but their people helped us get those issues fixed. Their equipment has worked flawlessly; we haven’t had one real issue.”
Temperature and humidity are crucial in keeping product quality high, as a non-suitable environment can result in product contamination, mold growth, degradation of raw materials and other costly problems.
Many inexperienced indoor growers suffer mold and yeast issues that contaminate their plants. Thanks to Surna technology, PM Growers’ fungal spore count hovers at a more-than-acceptable 10,000 parts per million (ppm).
Although investing in environmental control systems can be costly, the results more than pay for themselves, notes Taylor. PM Growers is currently preparing to enter the adult-use cannabis space, while a new extraction lab is set to launch later this year. A clean growing facility is boosting the company’s registry of customers, many of whom are dealing with chronic pain or persistent muscle spasms.
“We’re trying to grow a premium material, because we want our customers to have the best,” Taylor says. “We have people who are coming from 150 miles away. Surna’s equipment is working very well for us.”
Cannabis extracts company Moxie has scaled its business alongside Precision Extraction Solutions, thanks in part to Precision’s industry-leading cannabis and hemp extraction equipment, says Moxie CEO Jordan Lams.
Precision’s diverse lineup of products is equipped to service small- to large-scale cannabis processors, like Moxie, ideal for a burgeoning company selling an assortment of wares for a network of 300 retail dispensaries in five states. Since its inception, Moxie has used Precision’s closed-loop hydrocarbon extraction equipment as well as a variety of heating and chilling machinery for manufacturing cannabis concentrates and related products.
Precision has developed an extensive lineup of innovations utilized for cannabis extraction, refinement and processing. Moxie paired with Precision early on, impressed by the company’s accessibility as much as its robust technology portfolio.
“It can be hard to get into operations in the cannabis industry, but Precision went out of their way to facilitate us,” Lams says. “We got to use everything before we moved into our facility. We also had help from Precision's support staff and engineers. They presented a complete package, starting with the machines themselves, which are head-and-shoulders the best in the industry in simplicity, price point and reliability.”
In Moxie’s early days, Precision founders Nick Tennant and Marc Beginin separated themselves from competitors by demonstrating “a baseline thermodynamic understanding” of the industry unmarred by jargon.
“Lots of guys reach far for the latest thing, but the fundamental basis to build gets overlooked,” Lams says. “Precision makes meaningful improvements to its equipment on an annual basis.”
While Precision expanded its client base concurrently with Moxie’s rise, the company remains unwavering in its customer-service commitments. In a business where a faulty 49-cent washer can scuttle a day’s work, Lams knows that washer will be on its way with a single phone call.
Precision’s reliable service and equipment have helped increase Moxie’s profitability, resulting in a relationship Lams expects to continue well into the future.
“While we all have an abiding love for our culture and product, we’re all serious businesspeople, too,” he says. “Plenty of manufacturers have art in equipment but lack that business savvy. Precision has knowledge of their machines along with everything else.”
Arrow Systems sells digital printing and finishing equipment for the label printing industry. For the cannabis trade, they also provide special knowledge on unique materials and printing styles to make a cultivator’s products pop in the eyes of the consumer.
“Arrow is at the forefront of helping us make new standout labels and giving us ideas on how to make labels special to each customer,” says Paul Leon, head of print operations for Cannabiz Supply. “You want to be different from everyone else on the shelf. How else would you do that besides through a label?”
For example, Leon says that Arrow customer service reps might suggest a new holographic material with a rainbow sheen for use on his company’s cannabis-carrying glass containers, polystyrene jars and moisture-resistant mylar bags.
Cannabiz began working with Arrow a year ago, impressed by the Buffalo-based company’s inline printing system, the all-in-one ANYJET machine that prints Leon’s labels from start to finish with no extra steps.
“Before Arrow, we were buying labels from a third-party seller,” says Leon. “The main difference with Arrow is they’re always on the phone, ready to talk to us. They’re in Buffalo, but the time difference doesn’t matter. I can call them at 9 p.m., and they’re ready to walk me through whatever I need.”
Arrow's commercial printers and finishers are compatible with a multitude of different label materials, at any volume. ANYJET can produce up to 7 million labels per year, for example, but it can also meet the more modest packaging needs of companies like Cannabiz, which creates up to 6,000 labels a day.
“We’ve seen smaller systems that do 80% of what Arrow’s printers can,” Leon says. “Or there are bigger machines that do these crazy numbers."
Cannabiz has about 35 customers, mostly cannabis cultivators alongside a few restaurants and a kombucha venture. Leon’s grower clientele might require a funky printing style or other unconventionally designed labels, with Arrow readily available to keep Cannabiz apprised on the newest industry developments.
Additionally, Arrow educates Cannabiz on operating its equipment, navigating Cannabiz Supply’s employees through the intricacies of a multi-component machine. By harnessing Arrow’s printers, Leon expects to build up the labeling side of a business that largely focuses on packaging.
“Arrow is helping us stay on top of trends,” Leon says. “They’re going to conventions throughout the world and sending us pictures of new labels and materials.”
Transitioning from single-ended lighting fixtures to double-ended technology can increase yield in an indoor cannabis cultivation facility by about 50%, according to Sevan Derohanian, owner/operator of Commercial Grow Supply.
Since converting to Nanolux DE double-ended technology in all its flower rooms in 2015, the company, which operates its cultivation business out of Sun Valley, Calif., as LAHC Collective Inc., has effectively doubled its yields, Derohanian says.
The vertically integrated cannabis operation is headquartered in Clarita, Calif., and Commercial Grow Supply also offers consulting services and operates a hydroponics store. The company replaced single-ended technology in its grow with Nanolux’s 1,000-watt double- ended fixtures and increased production from 1.5 to 2 pounds per fixture to 3 to 3.5 pounds per fixture, he says.
“Coming into the double-ended technology with Nanolux, they provided us with a superb fixture [and] amazing design, … [and] the fixture gives us a much better spread, much more uniformity throughout the crop itself,” Derohanian says.
The double-ended fixtures are also smaller and cost less to replace on an annual basis to remain in optimal condition, he adds. “Where we sit today, our ballast stays the same, our reflector and our bulb changes annually, we are as optimal as optimal gets throughout the years, and for the minuscule cost of $100 annually versus $130 just for bulbs [with single-ended fixtures].”
As Commercial Grow Supply adds an additional 44,000 square feet of indoor cultivation space to its current 28,000 square feet of canopy, Nanolux’s technology has helped decrease its initial investment due to these decreased costs, Derohanian says. More importantly, he adds, are the increased yields and, therefore, increased profits.
“We’re taking the same floor space, same layout, same square footage, and doubling the yield within that same canopy space,” he says.
In its vegetative space, Commercial Grow Supply has implemented Nanolux’s 630-watt ceramic metal halide (CMH) fixtures, which have produced a similar increase in growth, Derohanian says. It has also led to a 37% decrease in utility consumption, he adds, as less wattage gives off less heat, which means the company uses less HVAC to maintain the room’s temperature.
“So, in all of our new builds, we’ve saved a significant … amount of initial investment when it comes down to our air conditioning needs and our overall annual electrical consumption,” Derohanian says.
Commercial Grow Supply also uses Nanolux’s lighting controller technology, which allows growers to place a chip in each fixture to control the lighting cycle via Bluetooth or WiFi.
“They have actually improved it significantly by giving the ability [to use] an online app [and] wireless technology, [so there’s] no more running wires in between each fixture, which we would call ‘daisy chaining,’” Derohanian says.
Commercial Grow Supply passes its Nanolux success story on to its clients at its hydroponic garden supply store, he adds.
“I’m happy my cultivation facilities are doing grand, but I’m able to pass that technology over to our clients, which in turn, brings us success through our hydroponic space, as well,” Derohanian says. “We envision our clients are doubling their yields [and] decreasing their monthly overhead, and that’s due to Nanolux.”
Cannabis Business Times’ interactive legislative map is another tool to help cultivators quickly navigate state cannabis laws and find news relevant to their markets. View More