Optimizing Cannabis Cultivation: The HVAC Revolution at Thai Stick

Published on 03/04/2024

Thai Stick is a Cannabis for Wellness cultivation company, headquartered in Thailand, where the tropical climate offers both opportunities and challenges. Rehan Mehta, the CEO of the company, joined us for this interview to share his experience of working with Cultivators. The partnership between Thai Stick and Cultivators has taken the best and overcome the worst of growing in a tropical climate, thereby paving the way for sustainable and efficient cultivation in tropical Thailand.

Rehan has been living in Thailand for 10 years and before his current job, he has worked in several different industries, none of them horticulture. “I ended up in this industry by being at the right place at the right time. I was working for the family office of a multinational conglomerate. My job shifted around different group companies, from construction, shipping, and energy, and then I was just assisting on this project. After the decriminalization happened in Thailand in June 2022, the group decided to invest in this project and a full-time CEO was needed. That is when I was assigned to run the show”.

Thai Stick started construction in October 2022 and planted their first seeds in October 2023. “The overall construction took 14 months. We have a 4,000 m2 overall cultivation area with over 1,000 supplementary LED lights and a separate 1,600 m2 post-harvest area. Thai Stick produces dried flowers, about 250 kilos per month. The goal is to serve the local market and eventually expand into exports. For now, we had two harvests with good yields, and we keep rising with the learning curve,” Rehan shared.

Harmonizing with Nature: Challenges in Climate Control

Thai Stick’s journey began with a challenge: how to effectively control the climate within their cultivation facility. Rehan shared, “We received traditional approaches from multiple conventional HVAC (i.e., heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) companies. These fell short, as they offered simplistic yet extremely expensive solutions that failed to account for the dynamic nature of greenhouse environments. Treating the greenhouse as a static environment, by suggesting to use of the biggest HVAC system to be able to cool it down as if it were a freezer. But that was not it, as we needed to optimize the cultivation facility to harmonize with the natural elements while maintaining controlled environmental conditions.”

We asked Rehan how difficult it is to manage the growing conditions under the climate circumstances in Thailand. Without hesitation, he replied “It is absolutely extremely difficult. Temperature and humidity are naturally high, combine that with irrigation and transpiration, and you are faced with a constant flow of humidity into the greenhouse. That is why we needed to find the right system that would provide cooling and extract humidity at the same time. Finding such as solution would solve two of our major obstacles. We contacted several specialists for climate: air-conditioner installation and production specialists, as well as contractors and their in-house HVAC system team, with no success. It took the expertise of actual greenhouse specialists from the Cultivators team to give us the right answer. And here we are today, with a much smaller system than what we were looking at from any of these three specialists, and it is doing the job exactly as promised“.

Expert Guidance Leads to Success: The Cultivators Difference

Collaborating closely with Cultivators proved to be a game-changer for Thai Stick, says Rehan. Cultivators approached the challenge differently, emphasizing the importance of understanding airflow dynamics and the impact of plant transpiration on temperature and humidity. Using an effective design that was built from a horticulture specialist’s perspective, Thai Stick was able to achieve optimal conditions for cannabis cultivation while significantly reducing energy consumption and costs. “Vincent (Cultivators) identified the need for precise climate control solutions and tailored the design to the unique demands of our cannabis cultivation facility. Implementing Cultivators’ advice saved us 40-50% of our HVAC system budget, and this was without anybody even stepping foot in our greenhouse. The process was smooth, we delivered them our wishes and spec sheets and were given back a very detailed and professional report that went into depth about how the system should function, what our options are, and what the expected climatic conditions will be at different times of the year.” Rehan remarks.

We asked Rehan what was different between the horticultural approach to the other companies they consulted. “One thing that Cultivators did differently and drew our attention to was the importance of air distribution and air circulation. The small changes they recommended to us were so impactful and for whatever reason, we had completely missed these details. It seems so elementary now, but it was simply missed before.”

Rehan praises the responsiveness and professionalism of the Cultivators team, highlighting their ability to simplify complex concepts and deliver cost-effective solutions. “I should say thanks to Vincent Kickert for this because he worked very closely with us on this project. He was very highly responsive, faster than I would have expected, it was a great pleasure to work with. His organized working manner was of a big benefit for us. He requested data, and as soon as he received it, you got back a professional, clear, and well-thought-out response which gave us all the answers we needed. In fact, he explained things and made it sound so simple that I had to read it again and think, is he really saying what I think he is saying? Have we missed such a basic element? We also got to work with Sonny Moerenhout. Also here, he was very responsive and flexible, and he was kind to provide us with whatever cultivation support we requested from him.”

Navigating Challenges & Embracing Growth

Looking ahead, Thai Stick remains committed to its mission of destigmatizing cannabis and elevating the Thai cannabis industry. With a focus on quality and sustainability, Thai Stick aims to establish Thailand as the gold standard of cannabis production, fostering collaboration and innovation within the industry. “We see that as a goal that we cannot achieve alone, and we do not intend to. We aim to work together with the rest of the industry here and with other parties who share the idea of elevating the Thai cannabis industry to an international level.”

Rehan summarizes, “When we got in touch with Cultivators, we finally had contact with a professional team of people who had diverse cultivation experience, a panel of experts, not just one guy with one perspective. Overall, we are very happy with the results of what Cultivators contributed to our facility. My only regret is that we did not get them involved sooner. We could have perhaps saved ourselves a few months and a little bit of headache and especially heartache looking at the prices that we were quoted for air conditioning by the other parties. Whatever further advice and suggestions we might need, we will come back to Cultivators, because we have faith that they can give us what we need, take us across the finish line on this, and get us as close to perfection as possible. I would wholeheartedly recommend that anyone who is planning to build any kind of cultivation facility go to the right experts from the very beginning.”

There are so many aspects to consider when designing a cultivation facility, the plants, economic decisions, climate, market and industry state, final product, work method, and many more. It is about considering every single one of these aspects to come up with the best individual design that will work for your company.

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