There is a race in this market at the moment: the race is on to be the first to produce medicinal cannabis on a large scale and to secure the promised returns. Dave van Schip, Project leader at Codema is responsible for getting many cannabis greenhouses production-ready on time all over the world.
Growing medical cannabis
Born and bred in Aalsmeer with parents who have their rose nursery, Dave grew up with greenhouse horticulture. He has now worked at Codema for seven years, where he started as a project engineer, became a project leader and is now a project manager who directs all the project leaders worldwide. The company is growing fast, especially abroad:
“When I started, the Netherlands was our most important market, now only 20% of our projects are here. That isn’t because our market share has gotten smaller: we’re as strong as ever as a company, but actually, because we’ve grown so fast abroad. Medical cannabis cultivation is an important growth market where our specialized knowledge can make a difference. Right now, we are working on five major projects in this field in North America alone. And we expect this to keep growing.”
Project management essential to realize cannabis greenhouse
Cannabis cultivation is being legalized in a growing number of countries, with licensing for medical use. Codema is a global leader in horticultural solutions, which puts it at the top of the shortlist as a supplier for cannabis investors. Their demand: “Help us create a greenhouse for medical cannabis production as quickly and as well as possible.” Dave is the man who makes sure this is arranged on behalf of Codema.
“Companies that are active in medical cannabis cultivation often employ hugely motivated and highly trained people. But they don’t always know exactly how a greenhouse is put together. So the first step that Codema helps with is to draw up a realistic project plan and to manage expectations so they can achieve all their milestones. This relieves their investor’s worries.
Then, the main thing is flexibility. During these often multi-year processes, the scope of a project changes regularly, and you need to be set up for this as an organization. We send specialists all over the world to solve problems on site and to make sure production or schedule goes as planned. That shared sense of responsibility makes Codema unique in the market. Our customers also recognize that; for instance, they come back to us for a greenhouse in a new country. I’m particularly proud of the fact that now they often bring us into the process much earlier, once they know where our strengths lie.”
Innovation in the greenhouse: automation
Codema earned its spurs in Dutch greenhouse horticulture. Growers come to the company for solutions in logistics, water management, climate control, and software and have exact requirements. There are many similarities between the familiar cultivation of tomatoes, for example, and cannabis. In both cases, Codema’s knowledge leads to higher yields, efficiency, or technical innovation:
“Vegetable or cannabis growers want to control their greenhouse with their iPad, preferably from the back yard or the beach. They accelerate the growing cycle, or indeed slow it down, based on the expected market demand, and can accurately keep track of whether everything is as it should be. This is still a thing of the future for vegetable growers, but cannabis cultivators can already invest in it now. In the first projects, this often didn’t work yet, but we do include this for the requests we are getting now.”
Codema always stays to the final delivery
Dave expects that Codema will supply an even more significant part of the inner workings for a medical cannabis greenhouse in the future. Where logistics, automation, and water management are currently the most essential services, in the future many components will probably be added to this:
“Codema always stays to the final delivery. We make sure the actual production is running. If delays occur, we need to respond adequately, but of course, that goes better when we have a bigger responsibility. Fortunately, our customers see that too, so I expect we’ll be expanding our services in this market considerably in the coming years, for example in the area of climate control and automation. Then we’ll have control of everything, and I’ll be able to tell customers even sooner: It’s taken care of!”