Despite current market conditions, the cannabis industry continues to grow. It may not be at the rate it was two years ago, but for those who are in it for the long haul, planning and building a sustainable business and facility will be key to survival and being financially viable.
Bringing over 20 years of commercial real estate development and general contracting with him, Founder, Chad McCormick established GICS in 2017 as an exclusive cannabis general contracting firm, employing both commercial cannabis professionals for facility design and operations. His father, Thom McCormick partnered with him in 2019 and since then, the duo has overseen the development of 2 million + SF of cannabis space, inclusive of cultivation, processing and retail development. “We value and understand the importance our clients’ strategies and goals. We implement GMP standards into our designs and developments and utilize the experience and expertise of the industry’s best architects, engineers, and sub-contractors to ensure solid facility infrastructure and systems that maximize and optimize production,” said McCormick.
The Cannabis Regulatory Agency continues considering a moratorium on grow licenses as the price of flower continues to drop due to the surplus of product, a 44% decrease in the last year. While lower prices may appeal to end consumers, it raises a lot of other issues for those who own and operate cannabis businesses.
We caught up with Thom a few weeks ago at MJBizCon’s 11th Annual Marijuana Business Conference and Cannabis Expo in Las Vegas and he shared with us some of the things that they are experiencing during these interesting and changing times.
How do businesses that are now entering the market, such as grow facilities, keep costs down?
Many times, we meet with groups and individuals who contemplate building out their own facility to save money. Facility design and construction experience from people that we’ve met ranges from none to having years of professional experience.
Those who are experienced understand the level of difficulty involved will include their seasoned cultivators executives in discussions and welcome their input as well as working alongside us throughout the process from concept to completion. Less experienced individuals often believe they possess the needed cultivation and construction expertise to undertake everything themselves. We have found this to almost always be disastrous, leading to dysfunction, underperformance and eventually, a distressed property and business.
We recommend licensees and investors do their homework and know who they are partnering with and who they are hiring to do work for them. Choose wisely and don’t cut corners because what may seem to be beneficial will cost you later.
How much does it cost to build a facility?
As career entrepreneurs, we get it. What’s the number? What’s it going to take? We know that you need to know. It is common for builders to be reluctant to give an overall estimate. At GICS, we are more than happy to provide regional and state-specific construction cost ranges. Unless requested by our client, change orders do not exist. We like to be transparent and realistic with our clients.
What has been an issue of concern that you often see from potential clients?
In addition to the level of experience with facility design and all it entails, I’d say the lack of understanding of the earnest and insistent necessity of properly sized and installed environmental conditions infrastructure (HVAC, CO2, Controls) is an issue we routinely encounter from prospective clients. Our goal is to educate clients regarding sizing and design formulas so that a better understanding of the criticality of these systems is appreciated.
How has the growth and challenges of the industry affected your business over the years?
As the industry and businesses have grown and evolved, so have the needs of our clients. Beyond construction, we found that our relationships with our clients didn’t end there. So we’ve expanded our services to include consulting. GICS has a team of specialists that oversee cultivation facility operations and examine and evaluate things from design to process and procedures to make improvements and increase efficiencies that allow things to become scalable and repeatable.
Over the years, we have established client relations with capital lenders, investors, and cannabis attorneys, offering them professional and expert assessment and determination of design integrity and substantiating financial viability. When there are situations of M&A, distressed property status, business dissolutions and others, we have been called upon by our clients to serve as an expert witness regarding services performed.