by Ryan LaVangie
Due to the delicate nature of the product as well as the myriad of regulatory requirements in the field, any cannabis business looking to establish (or expand) its physical presence needs to partner with a builder that has specific industry knowledge.
Look for construction firms that have designed, built and have working knowledge of both dispensary and cultivation facilities for both retail and medical marijuana outlets, and that have established partnerships with product and service providers specializing in the intricacies of the cannabis and cannabis-related industries, including investors and risk management and insurance professionals. Specifically, expertise in areas including mechanical engineering and plumbing (MEP) coordination, architectural and design services, security systems and services, permitting, and lighting can be incredibly helpful toward getting your project completed on time and on budget. Likewise, any additional work a firm has experience with, such as conception and construction of cannabis extraction and manufacturing facilities, only adds to the construction firm’s breadth of knowledge in this complex, highly detailed, and highly regulated industry.
Specific design factors typically seen in cannabis constructions include flower rooms, trim rooms, dry rooms, cloning and vegetation areas, as well as consulting rooms, inventory vaults, point-of-sale systems, warehousing, manufacturing facilities, offices, and even specialized lab space, such as a modular cryo-ethanol extraction lab.
In fact, in one of our recent projects for T. Bear Inc. in Wareham, we attached a modular cryo-ethanol extraction lab (manufactured by Flexmod) through a passage expansion that was fully built out and coordinated to connect to the 8,000sf building. Throughout this specific undertaking, we coordinated our efforts – which also included installing new fire protection and fire alarm systems, new main electrical service to the building, new electrical circuits throughout the space, new HVAC and a new gas-fired generator – to create a facility that combined numerous manufacturing elements, a laboratory, offices, and an employee locker room into one aesthetically pleasing and functional structure.
Less tangible, but just as important, qualities are also critical to look out for. A construction company should easily and frequently communicate throughout the undertaking, and remain knowledgeable and accessible. Ask about whether they use any project management software and, if so, which one. Software programs like Procore can be used as an effective communications tool among construction crew and clients, and can help to manage a project with involvement from the entire design team.
Similarly, as the construction firm is in effect an extension of your own company throughout this time, and since some neighbors may be less than excited to see your business opening near theirs, it’s vital for your construction partner to create a welcoming environment for neighbors and clients. Sometimes you can get a feel for both the ethical character and expertise of a construction firm by looking at their previous projects, even if they’re not cannabis-related. If they have a portfolio that includes a record of repeat customers, and extensive experience in unique environments, typically this can predict a solid company that clients trust and can rise to the most unusual challenges.
Given the need to understand complex regulatory requirements and other considerations to ensure success in the cannabis industry, a design/build methodology helps to create a seamless approach within cannabis-related construction, coordinating various elements into one successful effort. Find a construction partner that understands and complements your business, and you’re on your way toward cultivating a long-lasting cannabis success.
Ryan LaVangie is vice president of sales and marketing for Acella Construction. He can be reached at [email protected]