Created with Sketch.
Cannabis Equipment News
50 minutes | Sep 17, 2021
Dave Nestoff: Cannabis Compliance is a Labor-Intensive Burden for Operators
This week, Dave Nestoff, director of product and engineering at Simplifya, discusses how he landed at a cannabis compliance software company after two very different careers — and why he loves working for startups. Nestoff is a self-described renaissance man, and the nature of startups allowed him to wear many hats during his career. At Simplifya, he not only works on software engineering, but he also has a chance to flex writing skills cultivated during stints as a journalist and teacher. Software development wasn't the first choice for Nestoff. A few years ago, he was working at a startup marketing firm that exposed him to the business' database and front-end side. It forced him to rethink his career, and he reinvented himself at a development boot camp in Chicago. Simplifya recruited him out of the boot camp because he had a unique perspective as a developer coming from a different career, rather than a green computer science major right out of school. Simplifya is a software as a service (SaaS) company that helps cannabis operators remain compliant with state and local regulations as well as internal best practices. The platform provides self-auditing and assessment software in four different tools:Self Audits: Audits tailored to each business to identify and remedy areas of non-compliance. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): Update and track internal SOPs. Smart Cabinet: A document storage and organization tool. License Tracker: Provides reminders for renewals and stores all relevant documentation needed to maintain a license. Nestoff says Simplifya is an out-of-the-box tool used by cultivators, operators and other cannabis businesses to remain compliant. It seems simple, but the software helps ensure that companies don't lose their licenses and can maintain their businesses using best practices. Simplifya has been in business for five years and now has more than 1,000 locations. Its customers range from small, mom-and-pop shops to large multi-state operators and ancillary companies. Documentation and compliance are more labor-intensive in the cannabis industry, and Simplifya is designed to help companies do more with smaller compliance teams. Nestoff says that cannabis operators can help protect their companies by doing things right from an operational standpoint from the outset. The company will be better positioned when regulators start visiting the facility, particularly in states that have recently come online with legalization. Simplifya's audits are simple and straightforward, with a series of yes or no questions catered specifically to each operator and the licenses they hold. It takes state and local regulations and transforms them to be relevant and digestible to each operator. The company has customers in 21 states spanning cultivation, distribution, manufacturing and more. But, as Nestoff says, every operator runs the business in a unique way, which is why it is essential for Simplifya to be configurable to each operator.
49 minutes | Sep 10, 2021
Building a Better Cannabis Facility Like Lego Bricks
This week, Tim Vrieling and David Wolf, founders of Greenbox Builders, discuss how their pre-engineered, pre-designed and pre-specified facilities can get cannabis operators up and running faster by cutting out 85% of the design and development time. In June, Vrieling and Wolf founded Greenbox to solve a common problem in the cannabis industry: facility construction. The pair had experience building in technical environments, working on everything from medical device and pharmaceutical labs to test kitchens and science buildings at universities. Recently, Vrieling experienced an uptick in interest from cannabis businesses at Integrate Lab Builders Inc., an architectural design firm that he has run for the better part of five years in Southern California. He found that the design and build process in the cannabis industry was taking much longer than other markets for myriad reasons.For example, municipalities were making it more difficult to get plans approved for conditional use permits or receive building permits. The requirements are more challenging, so Vrieling and Wolf came up with an idea to pre-package structures with a complete set of plans that are already engineered — with drawings completed and typical code issues addressed. On average, Vrieling says that it could take nine months from when a cannabis operator starts with a municipality to when construction could begin. With his new process, he says clients could be in front of the planning commission within 45 days.Greenbox builds pre-engineered, pre-designed and pre-specified Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facilities made of insulated concrete form structures. The company’s initial offering includes 3,360-square-foot and 4,500-square-foot analytical and extraction labs. According to Wolf, the structures are formed much like building a facility out of Lego bricks. Eventually, the company hopes to offer cultivation facilities and edibles kitchens as well.According to Vrieling, the value of the system lies in taking months, or even years, off the timeline to get facilities up and operational. Startup cannabis companies often fail to get off the ground because of time lost during construction that quickly eats into startup capital. Vrieling said the downtime is usually more costly than the entire facility, and the lost opportunities and business can be devastating. New customers have previously come to the company in the middle of the process looking for help retrofitting an old facility. Although they take on that work, Vrieling said the value is building a new facility from the ground up, so clients can avoid the many pitfalls between cities and retrofit projects.While municipalities can cause hiccups during the process, the demands for the structure are similar to those in other industries: control over cross-contamination, adulteration, and odor controls, among others. The builders stressed the importance of keeping it simple. Timeliness is critical, so they cut out as much of the design process as possible. The buildings are about 85% complete before the project begins, and then each is tweaked to suit individual municipalities and climates. Although the company is new, Wolf and Vrieling have one new structure under contract in Oklahoma and are currently negotiating with two other cannabis companies in the U.S. The company started with analytics testing and extraction facilities because they found a significant disconnect between the number of growing and processing facilities in the U.S. compared to the number of testing facilities. The company is green in more than just the name, but the staff of savvy architectural veterans hope to set it up for success in the fast-paced cannabis industry.
34 minutes | Aug 27, 2021
Matt Cohen: Cracking the Premium Cannabis Cocktail Code
This week, Matt Cohen, founder of Lively Spirits, discusses his transformation from a college student activist to an entrepreneur trying to crack the premium cannabis cocktail code. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.Please make sure to like, subscribe and share the podcast. You could also help us out a lot by giving the podcast a positive review. Finally, to email the podcast or suggest a potential guest, you can reach David Mantey at David @cannabisequipmentnews.com with “Email the Podcast” in the subject line.
58 minutes | Aug 17, 2021
Trent Woloveck: Automation Equipment Isn’t There Yet
Editor's Note: Clck here to subscribe to our newsletter.This week, Trent Woloveck, chief commercial director at Jushi Holdings, discusses his evolution from a finance guy who dabbled in product development to a leader of a multi-state cannabis operator.llease make sure to like, subscribe and share the podcast. You could also help us out a lot by giving the podcast a positive review on Apple podcast or whatever platform you use. Finally, to email the podcast or suggest a potential guest, you can reach David Mantey at David @cannabisequipmentnews.com with “Email the Podcast” in the subject line.
45 minutes | Aug 5, 2021
Aaron Silverstein: A Leading Expert in Cannabis-Infused Wine
This week, Aaron Silverstein, vice president of production and business development at the House of Saka, discusses how he became one of the world's leading experts on cannabis-infused wine by accident.
55 minutes | Jul 26, 2021
Jim Higdon: Exposing Shady CBD Practices
This week, Jim Higdon discusses his evolution from journalist and author to co-founder and chief communications officer of Cornbread Hemp, a company dedicated to manufacturing USDA organic-certified, whole-flower CBD products.
53 minutes | Jul 15, 2021
Rob Sechrist: How to Navigate Complex & Costly Cannabis Real Estate Financing
This week, Rob Sechrist, president of the Pelorus Equity Group, discusses his role leading one of the cannabis industry's largest commercial real estate lenders. Sechrist has focused on the cannabis industry for more than four years, but the company has been in business for more than two decades. Since 1991, Pelorus has participated in more than $1 billion of commercial real estate investment business across 5,000 transactions.The company is an asset-based lender that focuses on value-add transactions, which means a portion of each loan is held back to be used for property improvements. Sechrist says that getting a cannabis business off the ground doesn't stop with buying a cannabis-use property, but rather the tenant improvements to the building to configure it for cannabis use and the equipment. Until Pelorus came along, industry lenders were solely focused on acquisition or refinance lending. As a result, lenders weren't concerned with how they would get paid back -- or stabilizing the business for cash flow -- even though tenant improvements and equipment are typically more costly than the property value.Sechrist sees cannabis real estate as a tremendous opportunity, with cannabis properties generating 10x to 15x more than non-cannabis tenants. Pelorus limits its scope to experienced operators and performs a feasibility review of every element of a project before they ever get off the ground -- they want to make sure the tenant will be able to make the payments. There are very few value-add lenders that are solely dedicated to cannabis. Federal law prevents most traditional lenders from financing these projects. Even when financing is obtained, it's a complex process with multiple stages that can take several months to complete. These financing delays are widespread and often cost businesses millions. Since joining the industry, Sechrist has noticed that the cannabis borrowing community is different than any he has experienced. However, because every cannabis operator has fought through similar struggles, competitors have a sense of community resulting from surviving through similar issues that have created mutual respect. Pelorus prides itself on being faster than institutional lenders. The team uses its extensive experience to understand an opportunity rapidly, structure a logical solution and execute a timely close (approved construction draws in 1-3 days).
50 minutes | Jun 8, 2021
Colin Ferrian: Cannabis is a Generational Opportunity
This week, Colin Ferrian, co-founder and analyst at MJResearchCo, discusses why, as an investment analyst, he is working to generate more empathy for the cannabis industry. Empathy in the cannabis industry is rare, especially among the investment community. According to Ferrian, the industry has two types of people: those with money — investment capital — and those with experience. Ferrian works as a hybrid that can steer capital investment in the right direction while understanding of how systems and other capital projects should be run in the cannabis industry. With a background that includes work as both an investment analyst and in cannabis operations roles, Ferrian is uniquely suited to help investors predict the sustainability of larger companies and gain a better understanding of what's under than hood, rather than just gleaming information off filings and press releases.Ferrian founded MJResearchCO to provide institutional analysis for cap allocators in the investment industry. Typically, these are smaller, family offices and institutional funds that want to put money to work in the cannabis industry.Ferrian was drawn to the industry because he saw it as the secular growth industry for his generation. Secular growth happens when something fundamentally changes within an industry to create a wave of new demand. Ferrian says cannabis is a "generational opportunity" with demand proven by the illicit market for centuries. Last year's market conditions also proved that cannabis is recession-resistant.Ferrian founded MJResearchCo about seven months ago, and he offers deep quantatative research paired with detailed operational evaluation for those looking to invest millions of dollars in the industry. To paint a full picture of operators in hyper-growth mode, he looks at everything from unit economics to turnover and organizational structure.Cannabis investment remains a relatively small market with a need for deeper research into the industry. However, the market will grow with the de-scheduling of cannabis.Cannabis businesses require an extensive amount of capital. Since there are less institutional folks in the industry, it makes it difficult to find the right dance partner — investor — with similar goals. Ferrian hopes to accomplish just that.
61 minutes | Jun 2, 2021
Zach Pitts: Pandemic Permanently Changed the Cannabis Consumer Mindset
This week, Zach Pitts, CEO and founding partner of Ganja Goddess, discusses graduating during a recession and stumbling into a cannabis career that has now spanned more than 13 years.When Pitts graduated from college, he pursued a career in urban planning, but he failed to find regular work. In 2007, developers weren’t hiring and he was at a loss. Around the same time, Tara Wells, Ganja Goddess’ co-founder, was cultivating and manufacturing edibles for the legal medical market — traditional products like brownies and gingerbread. She needed help getting the startup off the ground, and Pitts came onboard as a way to make some money and survive.But the partnership outgrew his temp job and slowly built a career. In 2011, Pitts and Wells started a California-based delivery business in an effort to make their products available to more patients. The decision to create a delivery startup was driven by two factors:Consumer demand from areas that didn't have access to dispensaries. Creating a safer, more comfortable experience for customers, particularly women. At the time, Wells found medical dispensaries to be unappealing. They were dimly lit, shabby buildings with bars on the windows and security guards at the door, and they were typically staffed by young men. The experience made her uncomfortable — like a criminal. She wanted to create an experience that spoke to her and why she used cannabis. Pitts and Wells carefully crafted Goddess Delivers as a delivery business and website that was more open, accepting and feminine. They wanted to serve the non-traditional cannabis user in pop culture.Soon after the delivery business launched, the Ganja Goddess edibles brand was unified with Goddess Delivers under a single brand. The delivery service took off and the edible business took a back seat. The duo eventually put the edibles division on hiatus to concentrate on delivery, but they continue to maintain the proper licenses and plan to resume manufacturing as soon as possible. Although confusing and turbulent at first, the COVID-19 pandemic caused enormous growth for the company. At the beginning of 2020, the company was on pace for 30% growth. As the pandemic closed storefronts, demand for delivery exploded, and Ganja Goddess experienced more than 100% growth. The surge caused a few logistical headaches and growing pains, but Pitts and Wells were able to navigate the increase while planning for the future. Pitts is currently working on raising investment capital and hopes to land $5 million to expand the company’s manufacturing capabilities and restart the edibles brand. The fundraising effort is a new one for Pitts, but he welcomes the challenge. The company is also interested in expanding the business model — not just in California, where it covers more than 94% of the population, but in New York and Virginia as those states join the recreational market.Pitts and Wells emulated e-commerce strategies to make a website that is easy for consumers to navigate and create hubs that enable next-day delivery anywhere in the state.Before the pandemic, many companies — not just in cannabis — were already being pushed into delivery by the Amazon phenomenon, but the pandemic permanently changed the mindset of the consumer.Ganja Goddess is designed to appeal to people 35 and older, and about 45% of its customers are women. Pitts hopes to further expand the market, taking the cannabis-curious and turning them into cannabis loyalists. Some 94% of Ganja Goddess sales are from existing customers; 75% are from customers that have been with the company for six months or longer. Ganja Goddess was uniquely positioned when the pandemic hit. While it was tough in the beginning, the company's forward thinking helped adapt to rigorous new safety protocols and set it up for a successful year.
27 minutes | May 25, 2021
Jill Ellsworth: Creating the Cannabis Kill Step
This week, Jill Ellsworth, founder and CEO of Willow Industries, talks about her transformation from running a successful cold-pressed juice company to creating startup Willow Industries, a manufacturer and service provider dedicated to cannabis decontamination.Ellsworth is a registered dietician with a Master’s degree in food science nutrition. About seven years ago, she started a cold press juice company in Santa Barbara, California, with another location in Denver. She pivoted the company to a beverage distributor based in Denver, which she eventually sold. An entrepreneur, Ellsworth was looking for her next move. At the same time, cannabis had become legal in Colorado and she found that many of the food safety regulations that shaped her previous venture didn't exist in the nascent industry. While cultivators were required to test batches of flower for potential contaminants, they lacked the resources to remedy any potential problems. Ellsworth saw a need and decided the time was right to found Willow Industries and develop a system for cultivators faced with contamination. The move was also a consumer safety play. In food, the technology is called the kill step, and it’s typically the final stage in the food manufacturing process — during which potentially deadly pathogens are removed from a product before it reaches a customer. She wanted to create a kill step for cannabis. Testing requirements have become more robust in the past five years, yet they remain very siloed and state-specific. The kill step remains optional, but Ellsworth says cultivators should expect it to become required with federal legalization. The team at Willow created a system that uses ozone to safely clean cannabis flower and trim without sacrificing quality, flavor or effect. The technology was designed specifically for cannabis. Ellsworth could have adopted technology from other industries and tried to make it work for cannabis, but she wanted to make a system that was appropriate and applicable for cannabis. The result is an organic, gentle solution that doesn't alter terpenes, cannabinoids or structure, and extends product shelf-life.Ellsworth sees her product as an insurance policy that protects companies against product recalls. Recalls can be a brand-killer, and Willow offers companies the ability to market “clean cannabis,” not unlike the USDA organic and Non-GMO verified labels found in the food and beverage industry.The WillowPure system is a plug-and-play machine that cultivators can rent or lease; the company also provides onsite processing as a service. Ellsworth prefers a leasing model to traditional sales. As they continue to innovate at Willow, leases make it easier for customers to upgrade to keep pace with the industry. The system processes 10 to 15 pounds per run, on average, but the amount of product and treatment time depends upon the type of product and amount of contamination. For companies using WillowPure as a kill step, treatment times range from one to four hours. Serious contamination cases can take up to eight hours to process. According to Ellsworth, the ROI turns from service to leasing at about 10,000 square feet of cultivation. At such volumes (and higher), a long-term lease agreement is ideal, but it depends on the market. For example, Oklahoma has many licensees with small batches and plant counts, so Willow’s services business does well in the state. In Michigan, Massachusetts and Florida, it makes more sense for huge cultivations to bring a WillowPure system in-house.
44 minutes | May 11, 2021
Andrew Lange: How to 'Do it Right' in Cannabis
This week, Andrew Lange, president of Ascendant Management, discusses his work designing more than 1.5 million square feet of indoor cannabis facilities across more than 56 projects. When he started out, he primarily saw smaller projects of less than 20,000 square feet, but as the industry has evolved, he now rarely works on anything less than 50,000 square feet.Lange started off in Washington state building fully automated aquariums that ranged from $30,000 to $80,000 installations. He made some connections with people who had medical licenses and helped install aeroponic/hydroponic setups. He found similarities between the cannabis market and high-end aquariums, including controls and LED lighting integration. However, the cannabis operators were often paying a lot of money for under-performing equipment. In 2010, he founded Ascendant Management in Olympia, Washington, and it has grown into a boutique — but highly sought-after — firm with eight employees.Over the past five years, Lange has noticed an uptick in the amount of equipment designed and manufactured specifically for the commercial cannabis industry. A few years ago, manufacturers were still manufacturing equipment to run on 120-V or 240-V, because that's typically what you had to work with in home grows. Only recently have OEMs started designing for industrial facilities. Lange embraces new technology, and he is selective when it comes to new clients. He strives to increase efficiency and decrease labor costs using automation, but until recently, startups didn't want to do anything new. He’s transitioned away from $400,000 facilities operating on a shoestring budget and now works with sophisticated investors who are open to using new tech in $20 million facilities. In 2015, Lange started working with Onyx Agronomics. Onyx set up shop in an old warehouse that was in rough shape. Lange wanted to work with Onyx because the company wanted to build an extremely efficient, aeroponically operated facility that was LED lit and 60% more energy efficient than its nearest competitors. Now, the company provides 10,000 to 12,000 pounds of the most consistent, cleanest and “greenest” Cannabis in the state of Washington every year -- and the company is currently working on a new expansion. As the industry emerges from the pandemic, supply chain issues persist. Costs are high, lead times are long (if materials are available at all) and timelines are getting pushed out, sometimes due to availability of basic materials, like piping. Lange used to tell people to take their time buying equipment, but now he’s telling clients to order anything, particularly anything metal, as soon as possible. Ascendant Management offers design and engineering services as well as general contracting. Lange says he is driven to show companies how to “do it right” for cannabis. The Cannabis Equipment News Podcast is an interview series with growers, processors, manufacturers, distributors and other professionals who work within the legal cannabis industry.Please make sure to like, subscribe and share the podcast. You could also help us out a lot by giving the podcast a positive review on Apple podcast or whatever platform you use. Finally, to email the podcast or suggest a potential guest, you can reach David Mantey at David @cannabisequipmentnews.com with “Email the Podcast” in the subject line.
41 minutes | May 4, 2021
Jesse Elkins: The Henry Ford of the Cannabis Industry
This week, Jesse Elkins, founder of Grow Industries, discusses how he became one of the most sought-after designers of cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facilities.Much of Elkins' story is being at the right place at the right time. When he graduated high school in Washington State, he enrolled in refrigeration school to become an HVAC professional. At the same time, the state legalized medical-use cannabis. A few of his friends started small home grows, and he helped them off with HVAC as side jobs. However, he soon began receiving referrals, and the side job snowballed into a business. In 2007, he founded ClimaGrow, a company that specialized solely on climate control for indoor cannabis gardens. By 2015, the company grew to more than 20 employees. In 2014, when the recreational cannabis market was legalized, Elkins was perfectly positioned as the only expert in the market. He landed every job, and his business transformed from a basement grow specialist to managing industrial grows.In 2016, Elkins founded Grow Industries. While ClimaGrow focused on climate control, Elkins wanted to design and build the entire cultivation factory. He landed some of the biggest names in the state and went on to create some of the most envied facilities in the state, including operations at Wonderbrett and Bountiful Farms.After 20 years in the business, Elkins has seen many changes as the industry has evolved and fine-tuned his approach to facility design. Elkins wants to be the Henry Ford of the cannabis industry. While Ford didn't invent the car, he essentially created modern manufacturing and put out a better product faster, using automation. Four years ago, nearly half of his business was retrofitting new buildings designed and built incorrectly. The jobs included complete tear-outs at dozens of facilities, mounting up to much wasted time and money because fledgling companies hired mechanical engineers without industry experience. The other half of Elkins' business was retrofitting old buildings to suit cannabis operations. With old buildings come a legacy of problems. Elkins recalls one client who purchased an old shop from around the 1930s. His calculations were correct, and the dehumidification set, but during the last few weeks of flower, the facility experienced huge humidity spikes, and Elkins was flummoxed. He discovered that the slab under the building was only two inches thick. Side note: The slab should be six inches thick, at minimum four inches. As a result of the shotty slab, the facility pulled groundwater through the concrete and ruining the grow. Elkins says that it is always better to build a facility from the ground up, but he understands that sometimes you have to make an old building work. For any retrofit, he advises ripping the building down to the studs, sealing the concrete floor and sanitizing the entire facility -- it's impossible to know the contaminants, insects and mold that remain from the previous owner. While Elkins started in Washington, he now lives in Arizona. He has built facilities from Washington to Boston and around the country, including 18 months in California. Last week, Grow Industries was acquired by GCorp, a small management and consulting services company owned by the Gilder family in New York. Elkins says the acquisition will help him grow the business by taking day-to-day business operations off of his plate. He also plans to work on cannabis-industry-specific new product development.
49 minutes | Apr 27, 2021
Bryan Wilson: Fiber Is the Future
This week, Bryan Wilson, co-founder and president of Environmental Living Industries (E.L.I.), discusses his journey from an overseas government contractor to the driving force behind an industrial hemp fiber processing startup. Wilson's wife, Candice, was a pediatric emergency nurse. A few years after the couple was married, Candice became incredibly ill, suffering from several autoimmune disorders. At the time, Wilson was working as a paramedic and a firefighter.The couple consulted more than 30 physicians, but none could provide a diagnosis for his wife's condition. During this time, Candice became pregnant and had a full-term pregnancy; tragically, their son Eli was stillborn.After nearly eight years, the couple finally found a doctor who tested Candice for a mold infection, and the family finally had some answers. The Wilsons had toxic mold in their house, which created her health problems and contributed to the tragic loss of their son.When his wife received the diagnosis, Wilson was contracting overseas, but he decided that it was time to come home and find work stateside. He wanted to be closer to his wife and make wholesale life changes.The toxic mold had permeated everything. The Wilsons had to sell their house, clothing and furniture, and started again from square one.The couple moved into a modest home, and Wilson sought new business opportunities — particularly in something sustainable. As part of his wife's treatment, she switched to a diet of healthier, clean food. It was helping her heal, and Bryan started to pursue a farm-to-table food business when he stumbled upon the hemp industry.Initially, he considered CBD processing, but the industry was overwhelmed with new CBD manufacturing startups. While he was pursuing the CBD business, he found that many in the industry boasted of the wide-ranging uses for hemp, including sustainable building materials and bioplastics. Although the industry praised the plant for its versatility, he found few companies were processing industrial hemp fiber, the raw material required to manufacture those products.He also discovered hempcrete, a building material that is mold-free, fireproof, pest-resistant and vapor permeable. At first, he wanted to manufacture hempcrete, which he saw as a potential cure for sick building syndrome (SBS), but he ran into a massive bottleneck in hemp fiber.SBS stems from poor indoor air quality and is caused by mold, fungus, pesticides, formaldehyde and other compounds found in construction materials or cleaning supplies. It causes a host of ailments and illnesses, and is found in some 30% of new and remodeled buildings. Wilson hooked up with Jeremy Luciano, CEO of GHS Industries, a company that manufactures and sells industrial hemp processing equipment. Luciano told Wilson about a new piece of equipment that processes 10 tons of material per hour; it's well-engineered, highly automated and a cornerstone of E.L.I.'s business plan. Wilson is now working with financial management firm QuantumCFO to help raise capital, and he has aggressive first-year expectations.E.L.I. will be headquartered in Austin, Texas, and Wilson is scouting a few different locations for his first facility.Fiber is in the immediate future, but Wilson doesn't rule out expanding into manufacturing of hemp-derived building materials or bioplastics. Either way, he hopes to provide the highest quality fiber and material from the "most versatile crop on the planet."As Candice healed, the Wilson family has continued to grow, and the couple now has a daughter, Ellie, and a son, Jack.
46 minutes | Apr 13, 2021
John Davis: Designing Realistic Extraction Systems from a Processing Perspective
This week, John Davis, CTO of Entexs, discusses his move from the oil and gas industry to the helm of an engineering and fabrication company focused on end-to-end extraction systems. Entexs (pronounced "en-techs") was founded with the sole purpose of providing custom engineered extraction solutions for the cannabis industry. The company assembled a team of machinists, fabricators and engineers with decades of experience building breweries and food manufacturing plants — who were well-versed in sanitary processing equipment.The company set up shop in Diamond Springs, California, outside of Sacramento, to focus on cold ethanol extraction. Davis works with ethanol not just because of his past experience, but, he says, because it's easier to scale on a system level.The team started providing systems to companies processing 500 to 1,000 pounds of biomass per day. According to Davis, the industry was piecemeal-ing the various parts of the extraction process to make a system. Entexs sought to make one system, with each disparate subsystem integrated into one, removing inefficiencies, human error and other bottlenecks in the process. At the same time, they noticed the opportunity in the emerging hemp industry, where companies were trying to process millions of pounds of biomass to make CBD products. The result is two different product lines: a smaller system for the cannabis industry, and a much larger one to meet hemp industry needs. Each removes manual processes with automation that yields repeatable, high-quality end products. Davis and his team wanted to design extraction systems that were more realistic from a processing perspective. While many competitors make valid claims about throughput, when you factor in process bottlenecks, it's tough to achieve the published numbers. With his oil and gas background, Davis had about a decade of experience designing and building systems that moved fluids, petroleum and other hard-to-move vaporizing fluids, such as carbon dioxide and propane. He found that the extraction industry was “just moving fluids."Entexs products are designed and manufactured in-house from raw material. The team of about 12 employees works together very closely from concept to development and production to delivery. The company runs lean, but manages to deliver equipment tuned to meet each extraction processor's needs. It’s a welcome change for customers who are trying to make things work with systems that don't always work well together. Entexs products include an easy-to-use interface that runs routines in the background using automation and controls that the company developed in-house. The idea was to make sure clients could get everything going by hitting a couple of buttons, loading the machine with raw material, and unloading the final product. According to Davis, it’s not only easier, but requires fewer labor resources. Although the company’s roots are in cannabis, most of its business is in hemp. Last week, the company launched a new THC remediation system, the RMD-T Series, which has been under development for years. THC remediation is a common pain point for hemp-derived extract and product manufacturers. Basically, the CBD extract comes out “hot,” since it has concentrated THC. The new remediation system removes THC from hot CBD. And as more states join the ranks of those with legal cannabis, Entexs is preparing for expansion in both industries. The company will soon move into a new, larger facility about five miles down the road from its current location. With legalization comes more regulation, as well as a greater focus on quality, documentation, and creating a high-quality end product with full traceability — which Entexs has worked tirelessly to provide.
54 minutes | Apr 1, 2021
Jeremy Luciano: Veteran Combats Fear in the Hemp Industry
This week, Jeremy Luciano, founder and CEO of GHS Industries — formerly Global Hemp Solutions — tells the incredible story of his journey to the cannabis industry. GHS conceptualizes, designs, builds and installs everything from buckers and drying systems to harvesters and extraction systems. Although the company works in the hemp sector, it is a food-grade manufacturer that also serves other industries. Luciano founded the company about 2.5 years ago, including a manufacturing facility in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, east of Louisville. He likes to analyze situations, see a problem, and try to solve that problem. Luciano is a veteran who was injured while on active duty. He is a Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) graduate, a training program that military personnel go through to make sure they can protect information abroad. During the training, Luciano suffered a spinal injury that caused lifelong damage to his back. After the service, he entered the medical field and spent 10 years as an orthopedic trauma surgical assistant. Eventually, his injury caused him to lose feeling in his appendages and bladder control. He soon became addicted to pharmaceuticals and entered a dark phase of his life that led to a suicide attempt. He put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger, but he believes divine intervention saved his life that day. Luciano, an avid shooter and military-trained marksman, says his firearm had never malfunctioned except for that day in that specific moment. He found no mechanical explanation for the malfunction. He says he has lived a devout life ever since. Luciano started using cannabis regularly when he was around 14 years old. He says it helped him control his overactive mind; about a year ago, he was diagnosed with a high-functioning form of autism. As he looks back on his time as an adolescent, he says that he wasn't a "stoner," but that cannabis helped him focus. Through some trial-and-error as an adult, he figured out how to make cannabis work for him, and he began reaching out to other troubled veterans who could use some help.Luciano was introduced to cannabis cultivation about 10 years ago in Washington State in an effort to grow his own medication. Eventually, he began growing for other patients, and he soon spearheaded large, licensed grows of medical marijuana for local dispensaries. Unfortunately, his injury complications persisted, and the labor-intensive nature of cultivation can be incredibly taxing on the body — so he switched to manufacturing equipment instead. Luciano first ventured into industrial hemp because he was drawn to the plant's sustainability. He says the industry has too much fear: farmers are scared of losing everything, and lies and misinformation can be found throughout the sector. He describes numerous run-ins during his time in the industry, including bad actors trying to make a quick buck by selling prototypes/early generation equipment as market-ready — and marking them at a premium to prey on farmers entering into unfamiliar territory. About a year ago, Luciano was also challenged by a retail company with a similar name: Global Hemp. He is currently negotiating with the company, but it's also resulted in a recent name change. Luciano says the experience is a warning of things to come as larger corporations get into the industry; mom-and-pop shops could find themselves in contentious situations with companies possessing larger war chests. The pandemic has been a challenge for Luciano, mostly because he's not the type of CEO who likes to sit behind a desk — he wants to be out in the field. His outspoken belief also presented some issues.His spirituality even influenced the new name, he says: GHS doesn't just stand for Global Hemp Solutions, but also God Hates Sin.
47 minutes | Mar 24, 2021
Ash Ganley: LED Tech Breaks the Glass Ceiling in Cannabis Cultivation
This week, Ash Ganley, CEO of GrowRay Technologies, discusses his collaborative manufacturing R&D effort to create patented LED lighting solutions for cannabis cultivation.Ganley is the former CTO of NOBO, a small, vertically integrated multi-state operator based in Boulder, Colorado. During his time at the cultivator, he observed the fractured, isolated nature of cannabis cultivation product development, particularly in lighting, and figured that he could find a better way of doing business. Cannabis lighting lacked research and development (R&D) and efficiency, mostly because non-cannabis technology vendors were marketing to a space coming out of a pre-legal growing culture. Essentially, operators didn’t know what they didn’t know, and lighting manufacturers took advantage of the situation. It created a lack of trust and transparency that caused a lot of waste in the industry. Early generation LEDs didn't work because they were essentially rebranded warehouse and commercial lighting fixtures. Called "shoebox fixtures" they offered a bad form factor and a non-uniform cone of light. Early LEDs generated a flashlight effect -- too much light directly underneath, and not enough on the edge, which led to conical grows. The fixtures were also being cooled by off-the-shelf computer fans, which caused them to fail thermally. While LED technology was a hard sell two years ago, times have changed and the technology is being embraced by cultivators to increase efficiency, productivity and sustainability. Cultivators are more willing to embrace LED as well as the associated standard operating procedures (SOPs) to get results equal to or better than legacy products, with the added energy savings. GrowRay recently received a new patent for its Triangular Extrusion Shade Bar. Specifically designed for greenhouse cannabis cultivation, the shade bar delivers a uniform footprint of light. It’s addressed traditional problems with shading profiles by using a highly polished angled aluminum surface to reflect light from the sun. Other manufacturers have attempted to fix the shading problem by shrinking fixtures, but that has only sacrificed light uniformity.The shade bar has been under development for a couple of years, but came about as a common sense answer to a common problem: a simple sun reflector concept that they proved through R&D at their assembly shop in Colorado.However, product manufacturing is costly and GrowRay is launching a highly engineered product as cannabis light fixture costs are racing to the bottom with companies flooding the market with poorly designed products. To remain competitive, Ganley had kept the company lean, adding strategic partnerships, and taking a grassroots style of marketing. For example, GrowRay works as a partnership with NOBO.Ganley has recently set his sights on taking a more holistic, systems approach to cultivation. Soon, GrowRay will not just be a lighting technology, but an end-to-end technology solutions provider. The company recently ran a program to look for ag-tech startups via mentorships and proof of concept tests. The result uncovered a few candidates GrowRay hopes to pull into its portfolio, be it with full or partial ownership or strategic partnerships. Still, Ganley looks to the future of cultivation, and believes that the next generation of cannabis cultivation technology is actionable data.
31 minutes | Mar 17, 2021
Ben & Vinnie Celani: Big Cannabis Is Coming
This week, Ben and Vinnie Celani, co-founders of High Life Farms, discuss their operations in California and Michigan — and continued expansion.The brothers take a divide-and-conquer approach to operations, with Vinnie overseeing sales and marketing and Ben leading the cultivation side of the multi-state operator (MSO).High Life primarily conducts cultivation, manufacturing and distribution in California, while its Michigan operations are more vertically integrated.Upon founding the business, High Life grew rapidly. In Michigan, the company grows flower and produces edibles, working closely with partners at Wana and Kiva on product development. The company currently has 150 employees and plans to add more than 50 more jobs by the end of 2021.In California, cultivation is the focus, with another 75 employees working toward the company’s white-labeling and contract manufacturing efforts.According to Ben, most of the equipment in Michigan and California is the same, with a few differences as a result of climate variations: the weather in Chesaning, Michigan, is a bit different than in Desert Hot Springs, California.Vinnie admits that High Life tried to expand too quickly. The company previously had operations in Colorado, but they decided to leave the already established market for better opportunities in California and Michigan. While they were selling in Colorado, they were ramping up in California and Michigan, and Ben admits that they bit off more than they could chew. However, the growing pains helped the brothers become more methodical, building the business piece-by-piece.Many of the early challenges were solved by trial and error, and many late nights fixing problems with HVAC systems and irrigation. Cannabis leaves very little room for error. High Life remains privately held and self-funded. Although making things work is more difficult on their own dime, it allowed the brothers to stay nimble and make quick, strategic decisions. Ben describes the Michigan side of the business as “medium” vertically integrated as a result of a 50/50 partnership with Joyology dispensaries. High Life has big plans for the Michigan market, including 30 new dispensaries by the end of this year and 60 within the next 24 months. The big opportunity in Michigan is edibles. The company saw seasonal trends with the flower market that haven’t translated to edibles. High Life is currently producing 80,000 gummie 10-packs every day, all hand-mixed and handmade over two shifts. The company is also cultivating about 50-55 pounds per square foot over 250,000 sq-ft of grow space, hand trimming about 80% of the crop. So far, the record harvest has been about 290 pounds, but new greenhouses coming online in Michigan (with the first harvest scheduled for April) will reach 450 to 500 pounds per harvest, with 15 harvests expected per year. The market opportunity will only continue to expand, particularly with the onset of federal legalization. Vinnie optimistically predicts legalization at the federal level within the next 24 months, although he admits that it faces many hurdles.The company will also continue to expand white-labeling efforts and strategic partnerships in California. For Vinnie, it’s a point of pride to be able to walk into a dispensary and see High Life’s flower sold under five to 10 different brands. As for the future, Ben argues that "Big Cannabis" is coming, and large operators like High Life are necessary to keep quality cannabis in the game — and make sure that consumers receive a quality product.The Cannabis Equipment News Podcast is an interview series with growers, processors, manufacturers, distributors and other professionals who work within the legal
46 minutes | Mar 12, 2021
Josh Malman: Keep Your Eyes on the Crop
This week, Josh Malman, vice president of cultivation at Jushi Holdings, discusses how he fell into cannabis.As a student, Malman studied international horticulture, and even spent a semester abroad building systems to provide cheap water to local farms in Africa. His focus on greenhouse production horticulture eventually led him to a position with The Clinic in Colorado as it was starting up in 2009. When he first started with The Clinic, his first harvest was around 50 pounds. Over the course of 10 years, he helped grow the business into three cultivation facilities and six retail stores in Colorado. In 2019, Jushi Holdings bought the consulting arm of The Clinic, and Malman’s expertise was an important part of the purchase. Two years ago, Jushi didn't have much of a cultivation footprint, but through acquisition, it now operates facilities in Nevada, Virginia and Pennsylvania — and each is undergoing expansion projects in 2021. Malman stresses that while cannabis is a weed and grows very easily, it's not a very hearty plant and is susceptible to many problems. He says, “you need eyes on the crop and eyes on the facility at all times,” which can prove difficult when overseeing cultivation operations in three different states. The expansion projects also present a challenging puzzle as Malman works with construction firms to add space without disrupting current operations. It’s also difficult to try and recreate a facility, state-to-state, without the ability to move any product across state lines. His role keeps him on the road frequently despite the pandemic. The past two years included many planes, site visits and manager hires, along wit implementing cloud-based data collection systems and cameras at each facility. The only downside is that a camera doesn’t really allow him to monitor the plant's true health. He can see if the lights are on, but it’s tough to tell if drippers are down or if there are any signs of wilt or pest infestations. Currently, Malman's cultivation operations are exclusively indoors. He recently made the decision to make a wholesale change to go vertical, with double- and triple-tiered cultivation. Despite his efforts, he insists that the future of sustainable cultivation is greenhouses and outdoor farms. The move to go vertical wasn’t without its challenge; it was difficult to get the correct environmental conditions, particularly air movement across the canopy at each level. Now, Jushi is harvesting weekly in Pennsylvania and Virginia, and monthly in Nevada. With an average of 60-65 grams per square foot, harvests have ranged from 200 pounds at the smaller facilities to up to 1,000 pounds.The company has grown significantly in the last two years, with much more in store for 2021. According to Malman, the cultivation staff is around 50 right now, but could grow to 200 by the end of the year.The Cannabis Equipment News Podcast is an interview series with growers, processors, manufacturers, distributors and other professionals who work within the legal cannabis industry.
31 minutes | Mar 1, 2021
Donna Wamsley: Cannabinoids are Tricky to Work With
This week, Donna Wamsley, Director of Research and Analytics at SōRSE Technology, discusses her role at one of the leading emulsion technologists in the industry, as well as the many difficulties in working with cannabinoids in the food and beverage industry.Cannabinoids (like THC and CBD) offer a sensory experience that can vary. Dosage control is difficult to make reliable and repeatable, as well as onset and duration, which presents challenges for edible and infused-beverage manufacturing and labeling.Wamsly brings an interesting perspective to the industry as she is close to becoming a certified flavorist -- there are only 200 certified flavorists in the world.SōRSE’s technology allows products to be produced for a better, more consistent experience. It is a water-soluble formula that limits sensory properties like taste, odor, and texture, which is a major step up from the oily brown emulsions familiar in the industry.The Cannabis Equipment News Podcast is an interview series with growers, processors, manufacturers, distributors and other professionals who work within the legal cannabis industry.
59 minutes | Feb 23, 2021
Dr. David Cunic: All 50 States Should Legalize Medical Cannabis
This week, Dr. David Cunic, CEO and founder of UCS Advisors, discusses his life as a medical professional and serial entrepreneur. In the industry, he's known as "Dr. David," and he's been a cannabis advocate since 2009 — "before it was cool to be in cannabis."As a doctor of physical therapy and pain management, he is an advocate for the benefits of medical marijuana. As an entrepreneur, he has started seven cannabis businesses in five different states; overall, he's founded 13 companies in the last 18 years.He says he decided to enter the cannabis industry due to the misinformation surrounding cannabis as a treatment. He believes that physicians are ethically bound to show patients every possible treatment — and, until recently, most doctors were not only prohibited by states from prescribing cannabis as a medicine, but they were shunned by their medical colleagues. It wasn't until the last two to three years that the medical industry became more receptive to the benefits of medicinal use, particularly when compared to opiates for pain management.Dr. David also believes that all 50 states should legalize medical marijuana before recreational use is approved. He insists that if our culture is to truly view cannabis as a medicine, we need to focus on the that side first. At UCS, Dr. David focuses on investment in the cannabis industry. For companies that are just starting out, his company helps secure capital investment and trains new business owners on everything from how to create a pitch deck to how to approach investors. He says many startup founders don't know how to talk to an investor. An estimated 65% of business owners in cannabis and CBD are first-time business owners, and they have no idea where to start — not only when it comes to raising money, but how to run the business from an operational standpoint. Dr. David teaches strategy and helps map out a business plan.Although business owners don't know how to start, even fewer have an exit strategy, he says. Many harbor vague ambitions of acquisition, but less than 13% of cannabis companies get acquired — and Dr. David says it will become even less common after federal legalization. The other side of UCS's businesses helps individuals invest in the cannabis industry. He says the average person is "screwed by the system when it comes to investing." It's not just a cash problem, although most people don't have $150,000 sitting around to invest. Some people, due to on their profession or a criminal record, are restricted from investing in cannabis companies. He helps them get into the industry by providing return-on-investment expectations up front, with a relatively low bar to enter — many clients start with a $5,000 investment with a 30% return in 15 months or less. If anything, investment provides an easy way to learn about the cannabis industry. Dr. David has been in the healing business his entire career, and his advocacy for medical marijuana has played an important role in educating a misinformed public.
Terms of Service
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
© Stitcher 2021