By Barry Dalton
The initial goal of 1913 Holdings was to have its medical marijuana cultivation facility ready to go in January with a jobs fair in February, but some obstacles delayed progress.
Not only were there freezing temperatures to deal with but COVID disrupted the supply lines, making it challenging to acquire steel and to get the delivery of the transformer needed to provide the facility with 2,400 amps of electricity.
“Everything has been, you know, kind of a hassle,” said Chad Burchik, director of cultivation. “We’re trying with everything we have to get this project upon and running. We are literally putting our blood, sweat and tears into this building.”
A leaky roof also sprung up unexpectedly. The city owns the building and is leasing it to 1913 Holdings. The new transformer the city ordered last year finally arrived in early March, and the Vandalia Board of Aldermen approved a bid to fix the roof during a special Board of Aldermen meeting on Tuesday, March 23.
“The biggest problem with the roof is where the old building meets the addition,” explained Burchik. “That whole area needs to be fixed. Also, if you go up on the roof, you can see where there’s spots in other places where it’s damaged.”
With recent progress, Burchik says the goal is to have “commencement” of the facility by June or July. After that happens, he can start adding jobs. Right now, he’s looking at a jobs fair in May as the most likely possibility.
“We’re licensed, but we can’t grow plants in here until [we pass] commencement [with the state],” Burchik said.
Commencement means the facility is safe and secure and ready to start plants. It must have all employee badging ready, security, all cameras online, and employee accommodations, such as restrooms and parking access, installed.
“We’re looking at a staged growth process from basically July, ramping up until probably the end of the year is when we look to have all four of our flower rooms up and running and in rotation,” he said.
Staffing is going to be a slower process.
“You don’t just start day one with 45 full-time employees,” Burchik said. “We have to start seeds, start plants, and as we grow, we will add employees to match our growth.”
Applicants must be at least 21 years old and be able to pass a federal background check in order to be licensed by the state to work at any marijuana facility.
“The way things are looking, if we do commence on July 31, for example, then I’ll be able to start growing soon after,” he continued. “We can hire a couple of more people, have a couple of people doing build out stuff, and as we finish it out, we move the plants into the finished phase right behind the construction guys.”
Burchik says that once the facility is operational, there are five or six tasks employees will do on a daily basis, from transplanting plants to trimming.
“I like everyone who works here to know every job we have,” he said. “And if you kind of gravitate to something you like, then you could be the lead trimmer, teach people how to trim. But I don’t like to give people the same job day in and day out.”
Employees who really care about their job and take ownership of their tasks is really what Burchik says he’s looking for in the ideal entry-level hire. There will also be some higher paying jobs for people with experience in other areas.
“I’m definitely excited to teach some people a new skill and give some people some good income and some benefits,” he said. “I want to make it a fun environment and somewhere you want to come each day–Not some place you’re just waking up and coming in to make a paycheck.”
The transformer for the 1913 Holdings marijuana facility was delivered to the City of Vandalia in early March.
Contractors were pumping insulation into the 1913 Holdings cultivation facility on Thursday, March 25.