Dan Williams: EnviroGrow’s New CEO on the Future of Cannabis Grow Facilities

Dan Williams was announced as EnviroGrow’s new Chief Executive Officer Sept. 19. He’s worked in the cannabis industry since 2009 as the founder and CEO of Canna Security America. Now, he’s focused on the future of cannabis grow facilities.

Fort Collins-based EnviroGrow creates state-of-the-art custom grow facilities for clients in their 60,000 square foot warehouse in Bridgeport, Connecticut, including vegetative rooms, flower rooms, dry/cure rooms, and certified C1D1/D2 extraction labs. Then they ship the complete grow room to their client’s facility.

Dan said, “I’ve seen grow facilities go over budget, using two to three contractors. That can take up to 12 weeks. Ours can easily be set up in two to four weeks. It’s a really open-ended way of approaching grow facilities, and it’s really necessary.”

The trend in cannabis is large-scale facilities from 10,000 to 200,000 square feet as states are giving out a limited amount of cultivator licenses.

“I believe EnviroGrow is perfectly positioned to meet this need as our product provides new cannabis businesses with a solution to the biggest barriers to market: speed to market, optimum grow performance technologies, and competitive pricing keeping their projects within budget and without overage,” Dan said in an EnviroGrow release.

Dan talked with Cashinbis about the future of EnviroGrow and cannabis industry grow facilities.

You’ve seen hundreds of grow rooms around the country. What makes a good one?

There’s so many ways of setting these up. Larger companies have more investments – they have the funding to build facilities the way they want them. We’re moving toward modular set-ups to contain any contaminants in the veg/flower areas. After one contaminant destroys the entire crop, people learn to modulate which also allows overlapping grow times.

What has been your focus in re-branding EnviroGrow?

There’s been so much development since 2012. Using nationally recognized engineering firms Fuss & O’Neill and Plump Engineering, EnviroGrow has been able to develop huge labs similar to pharmaceutical companies. Not everyone knew, so we’re getting all the information on that engineering development up on the website.

We re-launched the EnviroGrow website with extensive FAQs on the veg/flower rooms and extraction labs. You can see information like how many pounds of water are removed from cannabis per day – I don’t think anyone has yet put millions of dollars into equipment to determine how much water is removed.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned so far?

The amount of technology that goes into these grows. EnviroGrow has put over $2 million into engineering of cannabis grow technology. For the first time I’m seeing how investment in engineering can really pay off for maximum growth potential. As we’re updating the website – I don’t think I’ve ever seen statistics like that before. Our extraction rooms are engineered down to the square inch, and we can track everything using environmental control systems.

EnviroGrow extraction room lab design sample.

What are the challenges in creating large scale grow facilities and how do you approach them?

The challenge is usable square feet and how to optimize – we design the interior modular rooms, the veg/flower rooms. Instead of needing larger spaces, we can build up and expand the space using a second mezzanine level so we’re able to increase 50,000 square feet to 100,000 square feet – we’re able to double it.

Extraction labs are highly regulated by both the cannabis industry and fire codes. Denver city has the highest level of regulation, so if our labs meet Denver code, they’ll meet code in any city.

It’s very interesting to see how strict these fire codes are. Fire regulations are much more strict than the cannabis regulations. You’re dealing with hydrocarbon and THC in the extraction labs, and you have to do that in a room that is fire retardant. There’s a C1D1 [lab] regulation that you have to cover all the light switches so they can’t create a spark. [Cannabis business owners] forget that extraction labs are treated like pharmaceutical labs – they can explode. They quickly learn – new potential [EnviroGrow] clients are surprised to find that it’s one of their biggest barriers into the industry.

What’s most important to cannabis industry CEOs right now?

The initiative right now is being able to keep up with growth in the industry while keeping a high level of product integrity. We want to make sure as we’re growing quickly, we’re not losing quality. Quality control is important to the industry.

Who inspires you most within the cannabis industry?

The new small business owners – entrepreneurs who’d never started a business before. People in the cannabis industry tend to start small and grow something out of nothing. Watching people do that with a small nest egg is very inspiring.

Did you ever imagine you’d build your career in the cannabis industry?

I thought it would be a flash in the pan.

The cannabis industry is like a family.

We’d have gatherings in our backyards and all of us were thinking there were threats that they’d search our houses, seize our bank accounts. It was scary having a family and wondering ‘Is the DEA going to bust in any minute?’

Eight years later, seeing it broaden to so many states – professionals in this industry have to be more professional than other companies because of the stigma. But we’re proud of starting from the mom-and-pops. I’m proud of everyone that’s been involved.

When I found EnviroGrow, I didn’t know there was a next step in grow facilities – it’s no longer the days of the garage and tarp separators between growth cycles.

What’s in the future for EnviroGrow?

This year will be big. We have the new website. Over the last 12 weeks we’ve had tremendous response. EnviroGrow is currently undergoing its Series A capital raise. We encourage accredited investors to contact us regarding this investment opportunity.

We’re working on all the systems and research for how these systems work to take the burden off people joining the industry, so stay tuned.

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