Marijuana Business Magazine January 2019

Marijuana Business Magazine | January 2019 68 building an intake area where you bring in clones from another nursery near the potting area is ideal because the pots will be heavy and grow media will travel a minimal distance. “Having a little bit of forethought in terms of how things are laid out can really pay dividends on making the labor more efficient and minimizing potential risks,” Kessler said. DON’TS Don’t ignore your building’s return on investment (ROI) or initial rate of return (IRR). Most cultivation facilities will take about five years before they start to return profits, Kessler said. For example, your lighting is likely going to take up to 31/2 years to pay for itself. When designing a facility, Kessler suggests business owners factor falling wholesale prices for cannabis flower into their pricing models. Don’t get fooled by contractors or consultants making promises they can’t keep. “This is a wildly predatory industry,” Gordon said. To side- step any swindlers, make sure you walk through the project with your builder and outline exactly what you expect. You need to determine that your contractor has actually done work in the industry and isn’t just saying he has. Builders should be able to provide you with specific ex- amples of the work they’ve done in the past. Doing that will help ensure you’re confident with the company doing your construction. Don’t judge your general contractor by the company's first project. Everyone had to start somewhere when working in the cannabis industry; determine what your general contractor learned from the process. Check refer- ences. Visit previous projects. Scrutinize the builder’s portfolio. “Understand that who you’re working with throughout this process is going to be a partner to you,” Gordon said. Don’t accept the cheapest bid. There’s a big difference be- tween cheap and economical. Watch out for a bid that gives a basic square-foot estimate, underbids the job, then tries to make up for it financially on the back end with change orders and other unexpected costs. “If it’s the cheapest bid, then it’s not a good one,” Gordon said. Don’t allow your surfaces to create contamination. Flat surfaces collect dust and other contaminants. They also may lead to cracks where microorganisms can collect. While Kessler sees a lot of people hanging Unistrut metal framing to mount lights and fans in grow rooms, he likes to avoid such systems because they contain tiny cracks and are difficult to clean, which creates a good home for microbials. The same goes for porous surfaces: Don’t use wood to build your bench tops. The material absorbs moisture and humidity, which leads to mold. Don’t try to be your own general contractor and manage the construction project yourself. “I don’t have a single client who has ever told me that was a good idea once they’ve done it,” Gordon said. If you’re trying to run your business and manage a construction project at the same time, you’re going to do a poor job at both. She added, “If you’ve never had to navigate your way through a municipal- ity, through state regulations, through permitting, it will be a million times harder in this industry than it will be in any other.” Without a general contractor experienced with dealing with municipal codes and zoning, you’ll end up spending a lot of time at the city planner’s office. The staff of GroTec Builders takes a break at a construction site in Oregon. Courtesy Photo Anya Gordon Courtesy Photo