Get the 411 on the Way New Machines Revolutionized 420 Harvesting

PostedFriday, August 7, 2020 at 11:17 AM

Get the 411 on the Way New Machines Revolutionized 420 Harvesting

The following is a partial transcript for episode 44 of the Talking Industrial Automation podcast with Cullen Raichart, founder and CEO of GreenBroz Inc., a pioneer in automated marijuana harvesting solutions based in Las Vegas. It was recorded June 10, 2020, by show host Lisa Richter.

Lisa Richter: Talk about your background and your journey to where you are today.

Cullen Raichart: I’ve had about a million jobs throughout my life. But as an adult, I had a very successful career doing IT work for the United States Navy and a bunch of different companies.

But I really have always wanted to own my own company. Everybody in my family has their own business and I was like the last guy in, you know. At the time, I was doing a couple of different things. I was growing on the side because of finances in California, even though I had a decent income it’s tough in California, so that’s what got me into cannabis.

I just understood the market. Then people started asking me for help. That’s what led me to invent stuff for the industry, and that’s how it got rolling. I invented a machine for a friend who commissioned it. He said, “You build me one, and you can sell them or do whatever you want to.”

I was like, “OK, I figured it out,” you know, and that was back in 2012. So that’s what led me up to it. Like I said, I’ve done quite a few different things, and I found this is the most fulfilling because I’m able to be creative and productive and challenged all the time. I am constantly challenged. So, it’s exciting.

Lisa Richter: Do you have a background in engineering? How did you have the skillset to know how to build these machines?

Cullen Raichart: It is funny. Back in high school, I took that test that tells you what career you should have  it turned out I should have been an engineer. But I’ve been a serial inventor my whole life. I’ve invented so many different little things and I just never had any money or any – I say money. That’s wrong.

I didn’t have the follow-through. So, I never found the money. I never got to the next level and that was really the biggest issue for me. Then when I came across this, I did have the ability. 

I just decided I wanted to do this, and I put everything that way. Then I ended up taking money out of my 401(k) and my savings, which I’ve yet to replenish by the way. That’s what launched it. I just stopped taking no. I mean I just didn’t listen to no.

Lisa Richter: How would you describe to laypeople what you do? What do you tell your mom what you’re doing?

Cullen Raichart: That’s a great question. I mean I remember that that – I remember telling my mom, you know, and she was a little bit chagrined, I think. But she has always wanted me to follow my passion of inventing and building stuff. So, she got over the cannabis portion of it quickly.

People will ask me, “Oh, what do you do?” I say, “Well, I have an equipment manufacturing company over here in Las Vegas.” “Yeah. What kind of equipment?” And I tell them, “Cannabis harvesting equipment.” “Oh, wow, that’s so cool.” 

It’s a completely different conversation. It doesn’t really matter anymore what sector or where people are in life. I still get more crap for my long hair than I do for what I do for a living.

Lisa Richter: How has the company evolved over the years and how it has run this parallel track to a greater acceptance of cannabis? 

Cullen Raichart: We’re fortunate that the company started at the right time. … as the industry has grown and given us more value and more latitude if you will and capital, we’ve just continued to build this company to today when we can do things like the PPE machine. 

Lisa Richter: So, what about the growth in terms of revenue or number of employees? 

Cullen Raichart: We formed the company in 2013, and I did $60,000 worth of sales. Last year we did $13 million. It has been this skyrocket ride, we’ve gone through some tough times and some tough years. But the company has grown. 

We moved last year out of California. I lost all my labor force. One person came with me. So, we basically had to retool here with people and machines. We just rebuilt the company all over last year while trying to keep the culture of the company.

But we’re able to do some of that because we just continuously treat people the same way and we continuously get the same kind of high quality results out of the team. It was me when I started and now it’s – there are 40 something of us and we have full medical, dental, vision benefits. Both my sons work for me. One full time. My youngest son works part-time, and my daughter works part-time. Not that they’re going to take careers here, I don’t know. They both have other aspirations. But my oldest son is running operations for me. So, it has just kind of expanded and become this cool business.

Lisa Richter: Explain what these machines look like. How big are they?

Cullen Raichart: First thing I made was a kief tumbling machine. It’s called our Alchemist and we got a patent, I can’t remember, 13 or 14 years ago, that actually says “cannabis” in the title of the patent and that was like, “Wow, we got a cannabis patent.” I don’t know if it meant anything, but it was cool.

But that was like a square cube. It’s 8 cubic feet inside, and it tumbles and takes all the kief off of the trim, and I thought, man, we’re going to kill the world with this and – but that was really just the beginning and that machine taught me how to build machines and how to source and how to design, etc.

But when I invented the trimmer, which is a follow-on to that, we ended up inventing two sizes. So, we have a desktop model. It does about a pound or two every 10, 15 minutes or so. Then we invented a larger machine that was more of an industrial machine. So, what we’ve done – and describe the machines. 

We’ve always tried to maintain a certain appeal in the way the machines look. But that’s always second to function, right? So, we go for function but always building it to make sure that it looks and fits.

If you go to our webpage or you get a chance to see our stuff, you will see that it all looks very similar. Almost everything we do now is 316 stainless. So, it all has the same look and feel and vibe to it.

Lisa Richter: My follow-up question to that is, what is the problem inherent in cannabis that required a whole new system or machines? Why couldn’t you just go out and retrofit something that handles blueberries or some other plant?

Cullen Raichart: That’s such an appropriate question because cannabis is the most interesting product, I think in that the flower, the most delicate part of the plant, is the value point, right? With other plants, the flower gets impregnated and the fruit comes out and the fruit is the valuable part.

Not in this one, man. It’s this really, really, really, really gentle flower and you can’t beat it up. You can’t abuse it. You have got to dry it the right way. You got to harvest it the right way. 

You want to treat it very gently and appropriately and that has been our biggest focus: we say gentle, quick, quiet -- those are the hallmarks of what we do.

You can listen to the full episode here.

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Lisa Richter Director of Industry Outreach and Growth Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) Chicago, IL
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