As the cannabis business soars, one builder is ready to tackle the challenges of constructing cannabis grow facilities in a vastly regulated market.
Drawing on over 20 years’ experience as a technical builder, with numerous mission critical buildings under its belt in the healthcare and data center sectors, Cannatech Builders entered the cannabis space with the expertise and technical knowledge to consult, design, construct and commission every aspect of a facility that heavily relies on critical infrastructure.
Cannatech Builders, building from the strengths and global resources of its parent company Constructiv, is standalone in the industry. Its team of engineers and constructors bring unmatched experience in the mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP), fire protection and automation and controls aspects of a project – which also happen to be the most technical elements of a facility.
“We have resources from electrical engineers to mechanical engineers, fire protection engineers, structural steel engineers, planners – all crucial aspects associated with developing a campus,” said Owner Dan McNary of Cannatech Builders’ capabilities in both the mission critical and cannabis facility spaces.
McNary and his team know, “If you have a failure in an electrical system in a hospital, frankly, people could die. If you have a failure in a mechanical system, where you are bringing outside contaminants in, or you’re not using your supply and return properly, people are physically impacted.”
He continued, “If you have an outage of the electrical system at a data center, then you’re out of business,” and that could mean a loss of thousands, even millions of dollars, and the same goes for cannabis producers. Cannabis facilities are just as technical and complex and that’s why employing the services of Cannatech Builders is the key to better plans, well-built and compliant facilities and optimal outcomes in terms of yields, product quality, energy efficiencies, workflows and revenues.
Working with a professional contractor like Cannatech Builders has numerous benefits. “For one,” said McNary, “we can provide lower equipment costs, the skill to optimize MEP systems and workflow, and the ability to reduce costs of ownership in the process through proper budgeting and forecasting. There is also the guarantee of meeting timelines and accountability for all design/build aspects of the work.” Beyond the facility itself, great care and attention is paid to the support systems: the electrical, cooling, ventilation, heat, water storage, fertigation, safety and quality systems. As a professional construction company, Cannatech Builders can integrate and finesse each of these systems to optimize facility performance.
When asked how the company came to be the expert in the cannabis space, McNary responded, “We built the business on technical buildings technology and we’re constantly looking for applications of our knowledge in builds, and we kind of ran across the cannabis business.” In this sector, the company’s design-build portfolio ranges from hybrid greenhouses to industrial-sized mechanical, electrical and automation systems.
To date, Cannatech Builders has successfully delivered best-in-class facilities in California and Massachusetts and is well-equipped to take on work in Oklahoma, Michigan and other states as legalization rolls out.
The team’s turnkey approach to projects ensures optimal systems and controls, though the value of this service goes beyond the technical aspects of the build to offer clients peace of mind and support from project conception. “Because we’re a builder and we build these facilities – not only engineer but we actually build them – we’re able to give clients a very conceptual phase of the project,” said McNary. Cannatech ensures that each facility is a translation of the client’s needs and will serve them well long into the future.
“We help them strategically look at their facilities in a way that is consistent with their business plan and not overspend or, candidly, underspend on the systems. When you look at cannabis facilities, something like 75 percent of the dollar that’s going into the facility is on mechanical, electrical systems – or should be,” explained McNary.
The Cannatech team helps its clients mitigate the risk of building the wrong facility by first understanding what the actual facility requirements are and then delivering on those needs. McNary noted that it is important for clients to understand the difference between first costs and costs of ownership, as the lowest price of entry for a facility does not always translate to cost savings down the road. “People need to understand what they are trying to achieve: if they are just building a facility to prove they can grow so that their brand is available and they want to be acquired by the big boys, that’s a completely different strategy than a long-term strategy around growth and building a brand over a five- or ten-year period.”
For McNary this means, “It’s not gold-plated everything; it’s right-sized for that user, it’s expandable based on the business plan,” which is achieved by looking at a business plan’s scalability, flexibility and the ability to grow over time. “Whether it’s healthcare, data centers, telecommunications, technology or cannabis, it’s always the same decisions that need to be made,” and Cannatech Builders is there to support clients when confronting the hard decisions. He noted, “Expecting to get those hard questions asked and not always liking the answer all of the time is what they need to be thinking about.”
When it comes to compliance, while consultation is an aspect of Cannatech Builders’ services, it does not support the process of compliance or permitting but rather, “Our thing is the facility and how does the facility serve the business and serve compliance, and not necessarily the other way around.”
Automation will inevitably be the future of the industry, and McNary sees price compression on the horizon. The best way to fight this, he believes, is to ensure that you have an extremely efficient facility. “We have a lot of expertise in how to drive down the total energy use to operate,” he explained, which improves a client’s ability to compete.
This is achieved through efficiency, security, accountability, quality; each of these aspects of a grow facility can all be better monitored and controlled through the adoption of technology and automation. To this end, Cannatech Builders works with Flourish, a software platform used to manage facilities. As McNary explained, “the software application can control your facility or control your work product. But really building them, installing them, integrating them into the actual operations, being hands-on and actually having it work is a different level,” which is where Cannatech Builders thrives.
Harmonizing the integration of automation helps to increase yields and reduce the amount of labor required, as well as bring down the costs associated, especially in large campuses. “Over time you’re going to see more industrialization of cannabis; that’s where we play. We play with large industrial campuses. Those are the areas where we add a lot of value, so our overall goal is to find specific clients and regions that comprehend the significance of the expertise we bring to support them through the ultimate consolidation and expansion, because it’s going to happen,” McNary explained.
Regulations, however, are having a restrictive role on automation in the present. For smaller players who see the value Cannatech Builders brings but can’t quite make the numbers work, McNary believes the answer could lie in using the colocation model in a hybrid greenhouse setting, where small operations could coexist side-by-side, where the facility is designed to be optimal in terms of performance, cost and energy use.
Regardless of size, when asked what clients can expect when working with Cannatech Builders, besides a quality facility that has been optimized to perform, McNary responded, “From us, they can expect the truth: the truth based on their business plan.”
Not all companies succeed; some thrive, some are acquired, and others fail for various reasons. Your facility, though, doesn’t have to be one of those reasons. To find out how Cannatech Builders can support your business with a technical grow facility that meet your needs, visit www.cannatechbuilders.com.