John Vavalo, founder and CEO of Terradiol, lightly rocked on his feet as he answered questions in 30-degree weather.
A medical marijuana businessman for three years, Vavalo talked to The Canton Repository outside the vacant commercial building at 3800 Harmont Ave. NE. It’s the largest grow site approved in Canton.
Terradiol operates a 90,000-square-foot cultivation and processing facility and is constructing four dispensaries in New York, where it has headquarters in Syracuse. The company formed an Ohio LLC to operate the Canton site.
The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, which is scheduled to be fully operational by September 2018, awarded Terradiol one of 12 licenses to cultivate up to 25,000 square feet of cannabis plants. Vavalo said he planned to apply for a processor license, which was due Friday, while visiting Ohio this week.
Vavalo also answered questions about Terradiol and the company’s plans for Canton:
What does Terradiol do?
It’s a biopharmaceutical company. “So, different from the traditional model of thinking that cannabis is a smokable product. What we’re doing here is we’re actually making pills, sublinguals, tinctures, sprays and a vape product that gives good, immediate results.”
Terradiol’s management company provides services to other companies but does not currently operate any facilities outside New York. The company has applied to operate in a few other states, such as Maryland and Arkansas.
What’s the difference between a cultivator and processor?
A cultivator license, which Terradiol received, allows companies to grow, harvest and dry cannabis. A processor license allows companies to extract oils and make medications. (A dispensary license, which Terradiol is not seeking, allows companies to sell the final product).
Terradiol also is seeking a license to process cannabis on Harmont Avenue. The company would use large, CO2 extractors and a “supercritical CO2 process” to extract essential oils and cannabinoids from plants. “What you’re left with is a concentrated goo. It’s a green, liquid material that is very viscous, and it’s full of cannabinoids.” The material then continues through additional processing steps.
Why operate in Canton?
“We looked at a lot of different locations around the state of Ohio. This one, they were really welcoming. It was a great community. We found some really good landlords here, and everybody was very supportive of the project.” Canton also is “really well geographically situated.”
What is planned for the building?
“We like to take buildings from the community that are kind of run down or need to be updated to bring value back to the area, and that’s what we’re going to do with this building.” Terradiol plans to invest between $5 and $7 million in the former flea market and grocery store at 3800 Harmont Ave. NE. “We’re going to completely renovate the entire facility, gut it to the studs and re-renovate it with a grow facility on one side and, we hope, a processor on the other side.”
The large-scale, or Level I, cultivator license allows up to 25,000 square feet of grow space. “This site’s actually really well suited for that because all the ancillary services, in addition to the canopy, actually takes up about this entire facility.” There is enough room in the 58,000-square-foot building to cultivate and process cannabis and, if needed, expand. “We can grow here into what we believe would satisfy the market demand (in Ohio), the way the program is structured today.”
When will work be done?
“We have most of our architectural details done. We obviously have a time constraint given to us by the state to get up and running. We’re just planning on hitting that. So, we’ll be up and active by September.”
How secure will the facility be?
“We have a lot of very interesting proprietary techniques that we utilize to make sure that our facilities are secure.” Security includes facial recognition on cameras and the staff badge system. There will be a perimeter outside the facility to keep trespassers out. Vavalo said Terradiol doesn’t reveal details of security, but it’s “very extensive.”
What will the hiring process involve?
The company plans to hire 15 to 25 employees between May and July. “We will ramp up aggressively over time with that.” Terradiol will hire another five to 10 employees if the state awards the company a processing license. “We have the wide gamut of positions. We have security officers. We have maintenance personnel right through to your people that are working your quality labs and have PhDs.”
Terradiol plans to hire workers from the local community. To apply, resumes can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.