TriGrow Systems Brings New Meaning To Vertical Integration

The beauty of brands like McDonald’s (MCD) or Coca-Cola (KO) is consistency. Consumers can walk into any McDonalds and always expect the hamburger to be relatively the same. They can open a can of Coke and it will always taste the same. This isn’t the case in cannabis these days.

A popular strain like Blue Dream might have a variation in its THC percentage depending on the state where it was cultivated. A 2015 study  determined that “marijuana strain names often do not reflect a meaningful genetic identity.” Another test of cannabis products in Alaska found that the THC levels were not what was advertised. This lack of inconsistency is causing companies like MMJ America to wipe its cannabis slate clean and start over with a new crop of cannabis plants that it can control.

MMJ is switching its existing, vertically-integrated Denver facilities, as well as enabling its new ones in Las Vegas, to a method powered by TriGrow Systems that will standardize and automate the cultivation process. A combination of custom software and specialized hardware is resulting in consistent results from plants. This customization even extends to proprietary nutrients that are blended for specific strains as well as to optimize plant growth.

The software solution allows for a consistent product regardless of the location of the cultivation facility so that MMJ’s customers can have a similar consumption experience no matter where they buy the product. Not unlike McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.

The consistency is also beneficial from a business standpoint as it gives the grower some predictability and that allows the company to have reliable information which helps with business planning. The cultivators at MMJ America feel they are akin to artists when it comes to growing cannabis, but they have said that the TriGrow System will take their artistry and truly replicate their strain. TriGrow says its system can increase the average potency of cannabinoids by 28.8%.

Green Market Report has visited many grow facilities, but what set this one apart was the vertical stacking of the TriGrow units. It’s typical to see rolling tables to maximize the floor space, but stacked tables with catwalks really maximize the amount of yield a producer can get from a warehouse space with tall ceilings. These units can be stacked three high which can increase the yield by 7.8 times and they are like Lego pieces. The units can be stacked on top of each other or linked side by side and each comes complete with its own set of lights. There is a catwalk system that comes with vertical stacking.

Another producer in Washington state has decided to implement the same system for its newest 30,000 square foot facility in Bellevue WA. Hannah Industries has been growing cannabis for two years and a traditional setup seemed to be the way to go, but with competition heating up the pressure is on to save money on the build out plus produce more. Hannah said it estimates it will be able to produce 80% more weight out of its new facility with TriGrow and save 10-15% on the build out.

TriGrow has received an investment from long-time cannabis investment group Poseidon Asset Management. Morgan Paxhia, co-founder of Poseidon said “Poseidon has been an early investor in the agtech area of cannabis. Cultivation is going to face commodity pressures as production scales to meet legal demand, as we are already seeing in certain markets. As a result, operators will need to be extremely focused on consistent production at low cost. TriGrow’s platform is built to support this mission, which we are seeing real time from the customers they are onboarding across several markets.”

The company has also partnered with cannabis loyalty software company Baker, which recently went public as a part of the TILT Holdings (CSE: TILT) (OTC: STTVF)) rollup. As more companies become multi-state operators, consumers will expect and demand that the products be consistent. Being able to deliver this consistency is going to be a challenge for many and no doubt they will have to seek out cultivating methods that move from traditional styles to the latest technology and hardware.

“TriGrow provides an opportunity to create scalable solutions producing consistency across production facilities,” said David Kessler, SVP of Horticultural Solutions at TriGrow.  “Our goal is to provide precision cultivation solutions, enabling indoor growers to scale operations efficiently and grow the highest quality crop consistently, at low operating costs” he added.

Debra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the Co-Founder, and Executive Editor of GMR. She has covered the cannabis industry for several years at Forbes, Seeking Alpha and TheStreet. Prior to becoming a financial journalist, Debra was a Vice President at Bear Stearns where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. Debra has a Master's degree in Business Journalism from New York University.

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