Dustin Shroyer, COO of Revolution Enterprises based in Chicago, Illinois, has been a legal cannabis grower in Colorado since 2006. He has worked as a dispensary owner, lead grower, and consultant in the cannabis industry.
How did you get started in the cannabis industry?
I started off as a wholesale grower in Colorado back in 2006 when I saw the industry taking off. The law stated that only dispensaries could sell cannabis legally, so I started a small, wholesale dispensary. I ran it until late 2012 then I moved on because I wanted to do something bigger.
I consulted for a few years, winning cultivation licenses for clients in every state I could. During that time I learned about the Illinois market. Colorado cannabis was heavily contaminated with pesticides, and I wanted to produce clean product on an even playing field.
I eventually met a team capable of building a company I could get behind. We started Revolution, one of the biggest national cannabis companies out there. We combined our knowledge of how to make quality cannabis into a name-worthy brand.
Tell our readers about Revolution Enterprises.
We oversee two growing licenses in Illinois that allow a total of 150,000 square feet of space. We do everything under one roof: cultivation, propagation, flowering, breeding, genetics, and laboratory work. We’re currently growing about 10,000 plants, and despite being a large company, we do everything by hand, boutique-style.
We grow completely indoors. We’re not opposed to other methods of cultivation, and they have their place, but we believe the best way to achieve high-quality flower is indoor cultivation.
We also have a full lab setup. Our lab produces shatter, live resin, nutraceuticals, sublingual spray, and everything related to vapor cartridges. We even distill our own terpenes for our vapor cartridges. Best of all, everything is 100 percent pesticide-free.
What kind of rooms do you have?
Between the two facilities, we have a variety of rooms, including agricultural laboratories. Each facility has identical rooms: Propagative and vegetative rooms with multiple tiers to conserve space, large free-flowering rooms, and two mother rooms to store genetics.
What’s your growing methodology?
We grow via a bioponic method using organic-based nutrients in a semi-soil mix with a light substrate. The substrate we use contains dried compost which comes back to life when watered with a top-drip system. The compost tea we grow with adds a lot of microbial life and a large amount of carbon.
We currently run 400 lights and have 50 different strains. We prefer somewhat diffused lighting over direct lighting because we want the cola to receive light from all angles, rather than just straight down. Right now we use a full-spectrum T5 fluorescent light for propagation and a DE blue-spectrum MH for veg.
We use environmental controls designed for data centers, allowing us to control the environment down to single minute increments. Every door has a monitor outside of it that reads environmental data. At any time I can look at a room’s environmental data down to the minute for the last six months.
How do you manage pests?
We have tight biosecurity controls for our employees. Our growers have to walk through five doors in the facility before they ever enter a grow room. They scrub in, change their clothes, put on their work uniform, and change their shoes, which prevents a lot of outside contamination.
Certain problems like spider mites or powdery mildew cannot be allowed in whatsoever, but some “pests” can be used to benefit your plants, as long as they don’t reach a certain threshold where they start chewing on your roots. They can be kept under control with natural solutions like diatomaceous earth and other methods.
What are your biggest challenges and successes?
The biggest challenge I faced was coming online in 2010 and starting a 100 percent organic brand. My competition was willing to use PGRs, poisonous pesticides, and other unhealthy methods. It’s a struggle to deliver something healthy to people without turning them off on price.
My biggest success has been the creation of a scalable value chain. I’m elated with what we’re doing right now and our current menu — only 12 months into operation and we’re producing cannabis on par with the best in the world.
What advice do you have for new commercial growers?
–Stick to the basics. When you’re in the cannabis industry, you have 100 problems all the time and you’re always problem-solving. Your number one goal is solving problems.
–Don’t overthink it. Don’t solve problems that aren’t there. By fixing a problem that doesn’t exist, you’re creating a new problem and exacerbating a problem that already exists. Now you have more problems because you fixed the wrong problem. You get an exponential increase in problems. You need to stick to the basics.