CFN Exclusive Interview with Root Engineers
August 21st, 2019
In the legal cannabis space, precise construction of facilities is integral – especially to the success of a cultivation or processing business. It is also an important part of the licensing process in many parts of the country. ColeBreit Engineering is a full-service firm based in Bend, Oregon that helps both cannabis and non-cannabis businesses meet their unique needs. From HVAC to plumbing, ColeBreit offers mechanical and electrical designs for growers, extractors, and beyond via their Root Engineers cannabis-focused division.
CFN Media sat down with Rob James, Senior Mechanical Engineer for ColeBreit Engineering at the recent MJBizConNEXT in New Orleans to learn more about the company and where he sees the industry going as a whole.
CFN: What is the history of the company and what sets you apart from potential competitors?
Rob James: Laura Breit started the company in 2013, and I joined in 2015 as a minority partner. We do mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and plumbing design services for all kinds of commercial buildings, retail, restaurants, and of course, cannabis and cannabis-related industries.
Most jurisdictions are going to require stamped engineering drawings for any project of any size, and so we provide those professional design services for mechanical systems and electrical systems and, of course, plumbing systems. We’ll go through the design process with the owners or the owners’ representative or client, whoever we’re working for and we’ll put together a design package based on what their needs are, what they want to accomplish with the building, and help them get through the permitting process.
When Oregon legalized recreational cannabis, we started getting hit with a lot of questions about how we can help cannabis clients get started. So that’s when we got involved with that particular business sector. We’re operating in retail, restaurant, office, light industrial, of course cannabis, both on the growing side and the extraction side, and virtually any type of commercial building we can work on.
CFN: What are some of the top challenges facing your clients?
RJ: Well, on the grow side, it’s generally centered around controlling temperature and humidity in the space and having the proper equipment and systems that can do that. On the extraction side, it’s generally centered around the codes that govern the ventilation rates and the life safety issues that surround extraction, particularly if you’re dealing with something that’s flammable or explosive or an asphyxiant like carbon dioxide.
CFN: Where do you think the cannabis industry is heading?
RJ: I’ve seen the scale of facilities that we’re working on getting quite a bit bigger. For example, in extraction, the facilities that we were doing first of all were only a couple of hundred square feet and now we’re doing buildings that are several thousand square feet just for extraction spaces. So, I think probably the big players are going to push the little players out. I imagine you’ll probably still have your craft producers like you do craft beers, things like that, but maybe for the larger scale stuff I think it’s just going to start getting bigger.
CFN: What should our readers know about Cole Breit Engineering and Root Engineers?
RJ: Since recreational cannabis was legalized a few years ago, we’ve done over 80 projects, both on the grow and extraction side. So, we kind of dove in early and tried to gain as much experience and expertise as we could early on. It’s really paid off because we now have counties and cities recommending that their clients actually come see us to help them put together a design package that’s going to get through permitting.
We’re registered as professional engineers in several states, and usually it’s pretty easy to get registered if we’re not currently registered in the state you’re working in. But, we do have the experience and we know the right questions to ask. We try to bring the right professionals to the team to help you get what you need out of either a grow or extraction project.
*This interview has been edited for clarity
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CFN launched in June of 2013 to initially serve the growing universe of publicly traded marijuana companies across North America. Today, CFN Media is also the digital media choice for the emerging brands in the space.
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