Recently published in Cannabis Business Executive.
When Brad Nattrass, CEO, and Octavio Gutierrez, Vice President of Operations, co-founders of urban-gro, decided to enter the cannabis space back in March 2014, they had already been partners for five years, owning three businesses together.
Two of those LED Lighting solutions companies — Bravo Lighting and enviro-glo — were springboards for the new brand that target the Cannabis Industry exclusively.
They envisioned an approach that urban-gro would be a seller of product solutions that pulled from the practices of large-scale, efficient horticulture. This approach was gained from the personal experience of a friend in Colorado who had a grow, and they originally focused on helping the friend achieve energy efficiency.
After testing induction lighting they learned that growers would have to change their growing habits to be successful and increase yield, which led them to the decision to become a value-added reseller of Tier 1 product solutions. They partnered with P.L. Light System and offer a complete range of fixtures, lamps and reflectors for optimized light distribution in a variety of technologies including LED, High Pressure Sodium (HPS), Metal Halide (MH), and Hybrid Systems.
But, they found that lighting energy efficiency wasn’t good enough – they needed to do more for cultivators.
Targeting commercial growers, urban-gro put together a six-figure marketing budget to build recognition and attract best-in-class manufacturers to begin offering a full menu of growing solutions. Early on, some U.S. companies were skeptical, or even downright negative. Over time, though, their vendor mix included suppliers from the U.S., Canada, Holland, and Belgium who needed a U.S.-based distributor to serve the rapidly developing Cannabis Industry. This approach bypassed the traditional retail hydroponic store channel and put urban-gro in a unique market position as a value-added reseller of grow light solutions, integrated pest management systems, and fertigation supplies and systems.
In the last three years, the urban-gro team has grown. Part of Brad and Octavio’s strategy is to hire talented individuals with relevant experience and bring employees into the ownership mix.
In 2013, Shelly Peterson, who headed up sales at Bravo Lighting, migrated over to become Vice President of Lighting Solutions sales for urban-gro.
In 2015, they hired John Chandler, a certified crop advisor with a strong horticultural and agricultural educational background as well as practical experience managing organic farms and consulting on hydroponic indoor grows in Texas. He joined the Cannabis Industry in 2012 moving to Colorado as Director of Cultivation at L’Eagle Dispensary before polishing his experience apple as Lead Strategist at a pest control management before joining urban-gro as Vice President of Cultivation Technologies.
In 2016, they also added Cannabis Industry veteran Mark Doherty, with a strong background in aquaponic and hydroponic grows as well as formerly being the managing director of MedCann Advisors, a medical marijuana consulting firm.
The urban-gro model unites product expertise and customer service so the team can cross-pollinate opportunities for their entire product offering line. They have recently expanded into a 12,500 square foot corporate office and warehouse in Lafayette, Colorado.
Last year, urban-gro passed the $9 million mark in sales and expects to see that grow by over 50 percent in 2016. New products include Argus Controls (dehumidifier products)and FogCo (odor suppression) and Procidic (organic pesticide).
As urban-gro’s portfolio continues to grow, we look forward to watching this value-added reseller build a nationwide client base.
Company Name: urban-gro
Year Founded: 2014
Ownership structure/operating entities: LLC
Owner/CEO : Bradley Nattrass, Co-Founder and CEO; Octavio Gutierrez, Co-Founder and Vice President of Operations
Management Team: John Chandler, Vice President of Cultivation Technologies; Shelly Peterson, Vice President of Light Product Solutions
Headquarters: Lafayette, Colorado
Industry Segment/Category: ancillary
Current Markets/States Served: Any state where medical or adult-use cannabis is legal
Current Number of employees: 22 (has tripled in size in the last six months)
Market Strategy/Goal: Become the preferred value-added reseller of cultivation solutions
2014 Revenues: $6 million
2015 Projected Year-End Revenues: $9 million
Product Mix: urban-gro’s products maximize the yields and profitability of Cannabis cultivation facilities across the country. They provide commercial grade LED and HPS grow light systems, integrated pest management, automated fertilization / irrigation solutions, and a complete line of water treatment solutions.
Expansion Plans: Projected 50 percent growth in 2016. Continue to sign-up a diverse group of manufactures and experienced practitioners for a nationwide client-base.
Financing strategy: Self-financed.