CANNABIS CULTURE – To match the projected $92 billion tax revenue from cannabis sales into US economy, one innovator sees the need for a leap in technology to help independent companies prosper.
“When I started looking at the equipment that was being made for the industry, I could see really quickly that it was mostly not very conscientious,” says GreenBroz Founder Cullen Raichart, who’s inventions have revolutionized post-harvest processing. “It wasn’t designed to take care of the bud, it was designed to give a finished product.”
Raichart started out of his garage in early 2012, where he invented a tumbling machine for a friend after he watched him hand-sifting trim to get kief. Raichart eventually patented his machine, but soon realized there was a lot more need for innovation in the trimming sector, so he set to work inventing trimming machines.
“I do think from a technical standpoint, there could be problems with certain strains, or certain bud structures not being amenable to that sort of treatment,” says Chris Winn, founder of New York-based Winn Horticultural. “There could just be some really loose, fox-tail looking sativa that if you put the bud in there it just gets destroyed.”
With legalization moving forward, Winn is getting ready to apply for a micro-business license. “I think it’s probably a good thing for humanity to trim automatically, especially on the scale that we’re going to be approaching soon. Have you ever spent two hours hand-trimming?”
“Cannabis doesn’t have a skin or a rind or a protective coating,” says Raichart. “The only protection that it does have is those leaves that we’re taking off.” He says the tumbling-type style seen in most of the machines in the marketplace is a detrimental action, especially around dry cannabis. “It’s all about creating an opportunity to get inside the cracks and crevices and remove the leave. So, we gently move the product around a surface and get it exposed to a cutting area.”
“Some of the things we have by way of innovation and tech is not just evolutionary, but it’s really disruptive to the industry,” says Lance Lambert, VP of Marketing at GreenBroz. To put it into numbers, GreenBroz just released a new machine, called the Rise-N-Sort System which can process six pounds per minute.
The name Greenbroz isn’t just an homage to the cannabis plant color and the term “oz” used to quantify an ounce of cannabis being purchased, but it also speaks to the company’s environmental mission. “We’ve always used 100%, recyclable material. The only thing on our machines that is potentially not recyclable, is some of the interior components of the motors and they can be broken down as well,” says Raichart.
Even the plastics they use are made from a high-density, recyclable polyethylene without any chemical additives. All material is sourced from the United States.
Raichart is former military and says it taught him things like tool control, process management, and documentation, which at the time of learning felt like a burden. “But when you own a business, and you start functioning in volume of production, you start to realize just how incredibly valuable those things are.”
In the first year, GreenBroz was at $60,000 of sales, the second was $360,000, and by the third year they were at $3.5 million. The state of California is expected to contribute $19.2 billion to the state’s economy in the year 2021.
Customers range from people working in their garage with friends to million square foot canopies, with the only commonality being that they both grow cannabis.
“There will always be room for craft cannabis and small cannabis producers and there will always be room for large cannabis producers as well,” says Raichart. “I think that there’s room for everybody to play as long as everybody plays according to the rules.”
“In terms of jobs that it would be taking away from people, I’m not really worried about that because trimming by hand is like the least ergonomic thing in the world,” says Winn.
Lambert grew up in Northern California around a lot of cottage-style grow operations and says that GreenBroz helps scale those operations up if the operation chooses to go that route. Lambert says they’ve, “seen companies that purchased one of [Raichart’s] first trimmers, and now they’re on their fifth or sixth different piece of equipment, because they’ve grown and scaled up, and we were able to scale up with them.”
“In terms of return on investment in your growing facility, it’s a no brainer, really,” says Winn. “I think that’s where the industry needs to go. Just from an economic standpoint, rather than paying an army of unskilled laborers to trim, you can have a professional result in like a fraction of the time at a fraction of the price.”
“I really pride myself, as do several of our employees, on being former growers or current where we’re still just for home production,” says Lambert. “But being guys that grew up in California, and grew up around the culture and the craft, we have a level of respect for it.”