Chris Walker: Lighting Up the Cannabis Industry

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Chris Walker – GM of Heliospectra

Chris Walker is the GM of Heliospectra, a leading supplier of commercial LED light solutions for your greenhouse needs. A veteran of the start-up and alternative energy scenes, Chris has been involved in the business of energy efficiency for over twenty years and was brought into Heliospectra to assist the company in entering the cannabis space. Simply put, Chris and his coworkers understand every aspect of plant growth, as well as how to maximize yield, efficiency and costs along the way. Their LED light products are well positioned among some of the top companies in the industry and, according to Chris, the goal of Heliospectra is to become the foremost lighting technology in the space. In addition to his duties at Heliospectra, Chris is an avid traveler who likes to keep his life as simple as he can. Luckily for us, we caught up with Chris before he jumped on a plane to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro so he could give us a peek behind what brought him to this point in his entrepreneurial life.

What was the deciding factor for you to join this particular industry?

I didn’t really “join” the industry. Like much of the cannabis world, and cannabis itself, this was not a black and white series of decisions. I have always focused on energy efficiency in my career and Heliospectra’s technology was fascinating to me from day one. The company was not focused on cannabis, but hired me to help them make a decision about taking the company that direction. I think this speaks to where the product has come from and the intentions behind our product development.  We understand light as it relates to all plants.

What were you doing before?

I’ve either been developing start-ups or involved with alternative energy & biofuels or a combination of both for 20 plus years. I started a biofuel refinery, sold algae based technology, built LEED certified real estate projects and worked for an ethanol producer as a commodity trader.

My passion and energy is focused on promoting smarter lighting technology in commercial horticulture

Tell me about the point in the time you realized the coming of the ‘green rush’?

I realized the ‘green rush’ was on the way the day that VICE called us to do a video on the Colorado scene. I thought that involving a non-cannabis pure play like Heliospectra in that piece spoke volumes as to the cannabis industry breaking into the mainstream. They saw that traditional ag-tech (agricultural technology) was going to play a large part in doing cannabis cultivation the right way. 

Right now, where are you guiding your passion and energy towards?

My passion and energy is focused on promoting smarter lighting technology in commercial horticulture. We have a handful of very large commercial growers and partners (DIXIE, PinkHouse, etc.) that are on board with our product. My job is to tell that story, to make sure that the world knows we are here and that we sell the best LED horticulture light available.

It may sound cliché, but my wife is my biggest influence. She the type of person who is always happy and lives in the moment.

Describe your work ethic to me in one word.

Columbo

Who is a person that you consider as a role model? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?

It may sound cliché, but my wife is my biggest influence. She the type of person who is always happy and lives in the moment. She has taught me to enjoy my achievements again and constantly reminds me that life is now. We get so wrapped up in planning sometimes that we forget that the work we do is done for a reason. Sometimes you have to step back and enjoy what you accomplished for a minute.

What book have you read that you’ve been inspired by? Any particular read we should put on our list?

I started reading ‘Vagabonding‘ by Rolf Potts again.

This book reminds me to keep it simple and, because of that, I travel a lot. The travel lifestyle exemplifies the simplistic approach to life for me.

Join the ranks: Are you a CEO, entrepreneur or someone in the cannabis industry who's making an impact? We'd like to hear your story!

Tell me about an esteemed achievement of yours.

I’m about to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro – I’ll tell you about that after I come back.

Sometimes you have to step back and enjoy what you accomplished for a minute.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

Listen.  Just Listen.

What is the most important thing for us to know now about the legal marijuana industry?

Aside from the untold thousands of people that are sitting in prison and the simple fact that cannabis is therapy, we burn coal to make cannabis. After the conferences, sales pitches, marketing and excitement, it all boils down to the fact that cannabis is a plant that grows best in mother nature. The closer we can get to that, the better the product will be for us, the environment and ultimately, the economy.

After the conferences, sales pitches, marketing and excitement, it all boils down to the fact that cannabis is a plant that grows best in mother nature.

If we are sitting across from each other a year from now, how will our conversation about the ‘green rush’ be going?

I believe LED will have a significant foothold in the cannabis space because it just makes sense. Furthermore, the data race will have matured and streamlined, pricing will be even more sensitive for flower due to commoditization and new oil based products and services will dominate. Also, cultivation methodology will be even more controversial with two primary camps: soil and non. And finally, Chris Christie will highlight the stupidity of the anti-canna persona.

What do you think about LED lighting? What do you think we will be talking about a year from now as it relates to the cannabis industry? Join the conversation and comment below!

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