Three Key Hires for a Successful Grow

In order to get a commercial grow up and running, you are going to need man power. While there are many jobs within a grow, there are three key positions that every good cultivation site needs to get started: a knowledgeable grow room designer, an experienced facility/maintenance manager and a master grower.

February 11, 2015

In order to get a commercial grow up and running, you are going to need man power. While there are many jobs within a grow, there are three key positions that every good cultivation site needs to get started: a knowledgeable grow room designer, an experienced facility/maintenance manager and a master grower.

Grow Room Designer

This is the first person you’ll need to get your facility started. The grow room designer will help select a location, design the building and build or modify the building as needed.

In designing the building, this individual, or team, should work with the master grower and other key staff members to create an effective and efficient work flow for the grow team and support staff.  This includes developing an appropriate lighting plan, including light quality/spectrum and layout, to accomplish the facilities throughput goals while incorporating all of the necessary provisions for the facility to maximize its yield per watt and yield per square foot potential.

Working with the grow staff, the designer will be able to develop an effective workflow by ordering the layout to specifically accommodate the growing methodologies that are in use as well as include all of the needed space for anticipated plant count/plant sizes and processing after harvest (i.e. drying, curing, trimming, post-processing, and packaging).

Along with this, the grow room designer should be able to source the appropriate environmental control and automation systems needed to accomplish the facilities needs/wants while keeping personnel needs minimized.

Given all of this, the person or team designing your grow room(s)/facilities should be broadly experienced with indoor cannabis grow rooms, which includes having an in-depth knowledge of the current state-of-the-art technologies available to the indoor gardener and Cannabis processor.

Facility/Maintenance Manager

This is the person that runs the facility. This is an extremely important hire and one that should be taken very seriously as the facility/maintenance operator is in charge of making sure everything in the grow is working properly and safely so grow personnel aren’t pulled off of their primary duties to adjust their rooms to accommodate malfunctioning or broken equipment.

In essence, this person runs the building and is in charge of checking water/air filters, maintaining the environmental control system, replacing lights and sensors and making sure that light schedules are maintained. The facilities person should be capable of dealing with electrical and mechanical issues that may develop.

Having a facilities person with cannabis or other indoor plant growing experience is nice but not required. Equipment is equipment and it is more important to have someone who knows how to keep the lights, cooling system and other aspects running than it is to have someone who knows the specifics of growing cannabis. In a commercial cultivation facility, something will always be broken – a 500 light grow has 500 lights, 500 ballasts, 500 plugs, etc – and it is the facility/maintenance operator’s job to return everything to working condition as quickly as possible. If standard operating procedures are developed accordingly for the facility, the maintenance person should never have to worry about the plants, which should always remain in the hands of the grow staff.

To this end, the facility/maintenance operator should look at each operating system every day, much the same way the grower should look at every plant every day. A good facility/maintenance operator will take the condition of the growing equipment and building personally, working to ensure everything is running and doing its job.

Master Grower

Master GrowerThis position is in charge of perpetuating advanced grow strategies and methodologies, maintaining plant health, yield optimization planning, waste prevention and finding new ways to vertically integrate the facilities energy usage by developing new processes and procedures.

It is the grower’s responsibility to make sure all of the plants in their facility are receiving the appropriate level of attention through all stages of growth.

To accomplish this, the master grower should be capable of developing standard operating procedures for the grow staff to follow as well as training the growers in specific tasks and methodical activities.  This includes procedures for plant feeding/watering, pest maintenance, plant manipulation, propagation (i.e. sprouting seeds, cloning, transplanting, etc…), canopy maintenance, and last but not least, workflow.  Needless to say, this person must have indoor gardening experience with as much cannabis specific experience and knowledge as possible.

The Master Grower will not be able to personally check every plant, every day, in a large commercial grow facility.  Think about it.  Facilities with plant counts of just 1,000 plants, which is by no means a large operation anymore, would necessitate more than 8 man-hours to check each plant for just 30 seconds individually, let alone work on any of them.

This position oversees many aspects of the grow operation and can not focus on individual plants for the most part.  Given this, delegation (and multiple growers) is always needed to maintain a satisfactory quality control system and to make sure each plant gets as much attention as it needs throughout it’s life-cycle.

That being said, your master grower must be a leader and should be ready to take charge of a team to accomplish their goals.  More than one grower will be needed eventually, and it is up to the master grower and executive staff to develop a management plan for different aspects of the grow.  This will include determining how many experienced growers and laborers will be needed to perform all of the required daily tasks.

Cannabis crops can mean big money, but only if all the pieces work together to create an efficient operation. It is incredibly important for the grower and facility/maintenance operator to be two different people. One is responsible for growing the plants, and the other is responsible for maintaining the building. The first person needs to be horticultural, the second needs to be mechanical; however, they do need to work together every day to manage the overall operation of the garden with the goal of constant improvement.

If you insist on having the same person do both jobs, you are asking for serious problems.  People who know plants and crop yields for the most part do not have the needed level of experience in electrical maintenance or HVAC work. The opposite is also true: people who know air filtration systems and electrical systems generally don’t know plant cloning techniques or feeding schedules. There are some people who know both areas, but generally these are separate areas of expertise and should be treated as such within the commercial grow facility.

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