A lesson in how to grow weed and a giant family
Some licensed producers are a business, and some are a family. RedeCan, a licensed cannabis producer based out of the Niagara region in Ontario, are most certainly the latter.
Top level, RedeCan is a union of three families: the Redekops and the Montour/Hill families. The term ‘match made in heaven’ gets bandied about a lot, but it’s hard not to apply that to this grouping. The Montour/Hill families bring a great deal of manufacturing experience to the table. The Redekops, on the other hand, were raised on a family farm in Pelham, ON, so they’re no strangers to the soil.
“I started by growing flowers, and I found out that it’s a really hard industry to get into, so I switched to vegetables—mini cucumbers,” Rick Redekop. “My experience with farming made the move into the cannabis industry a lot easier. There’s a lot of similar practices: hydroponics, crop management, greenhouse growing, they were all transferable skills that I brought over to this industry.”
It’s safe to say that there aren’t many out there who’ve successfully transitioned from gherkins to ganja, but RedeCan has pulled it off with aplomb. They started off with a 15,000 square foot facility, that has now grown to half a million square feet, and is set to rise to 2.4 million in the next year. Of course, with growth in square footage, comes an influx of staff—RedeCan now employs over 160 people—so you could assume their family atmosphere goes out the window, but that’s not the case.
Knowing your staff is one thing—it certainly creates a clan mentality—but RedeCan actually has families within families. There are mother and daughter teams dotted throughout the place, and there's even one family of five.
Walking around the facility, it’s evident they’ve created a culture of teamwork; everyone is known on a first-name basis. “This is Brad,” “say hello to Gus,” “meet Alex.” The introductions are endless.
“This really is one giant family,” says Gillian Limebeer, Section Lead Grower. “And it translates into a more relaxed working environment. You have your family figures, doting fathers, these sorts of things. Then, also just the commitment—Rick is so committed to his job. He cares, you can see that, which then makes us care more. So, it’s a percolating effect. He’s involved in all aspects, which then makes every single process here feel equally important.”
Knowing your staff is one thing—it certainly creates a clan mentality—but RedeCan actually has families within families. There are mother and daughter teams dotted throughout the place, and there’s even one family of five that works there. “The majority of our management staff are female, too,” says Redekop. “We have a pretty wide range of diversity here, and that ranges from young to older staff across the board.”
“We have a big focus on local, as well,” Redekop adds. “Not only do we outsource neighbouring contractors and labourers, but I’d say 90% of our staff live within a 10km radius of the facility. We try to get people from our immediate area as much as we can. We grew up here, so we want to support the community wherever possible.”
“Walking around the facility, it’s evident they’ve created a culture of teamwork; everyone is known on a first-name basis.”
Considering the size of their operation, you’d expect RedeCan to have far more workers than they do, but their small crew isn’t a result of being understaffed, it’s more a question of efficiency. “Our growing techniques are a bit different. Everyone else likes to do small plants on tables, but we have a different strategy,” says Redekop.
“We transplant our plants into a 150 litre pot, which is then inserted into the ground,” explains Limebeer. “We’ve actually dug holes in our grow rooms so our plants can grow out beyond the pots. That gives the plant a little bit more stability, and we can also rely more on our native soil. That gives them accessibility to a bigger root mass: what is on the bottom will dictate how big your plant will be on the top. So, the bigger the root mass, the bigger the plant will be. Then we can do more precision watering, which is very important.”
“It’s really efficient,” says Redekop. “We probably have a third of the staff that other companies the same size as us have, and we still have good yields and turnover.”
RedeCan’s output speaks for itself. Despite producing 1.2 million grams a month at just one of their indoor facilities, their product is regularly sold out in stores, and that’s all from a 100% Canadian, privately-owned company. There’s a lot of big business in the Canadian cannabis industry right now, but if RedeCan is anything to go by, then there is hope to keep it in the family.