From Pepsi To Pot: How This Cannabis Firm Is Turning An Old Pepsi Plant Into A Weed Grow
7.26.17 - Lauren Torres
Doyen Elements, a consulting firm for marijuana businesses, made headlines last week when the company announced that it would be retrofitting a Pueblo, Colorado facility previously used by Pepsi Co. as a bottling plant, into a 104,000-square-foot marijuana grow. But more than that, Doyen says the cultivation space will be the first of its kind to implement green technology on such a large scale.
The former Pepsi plant's soon-to-go-down makeover; re-use is an example of how, as a result of marijuana legalization efforts and policy change in various U.S. states, business opportunities for those hoping to enter the cannabis industry have never been better.
Despite the green gold rush, no matter which way you look at it, legal weed businesses have more hoops to jump through than other mainstream endeavors. Federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance, which means that despite the drug's legal status in certain states, the banking system remains off limits for nearly all cannabis enterprises.
But Doyen Elements is one of the go-between firms emerging to help marijuana businesses scale by utilizing it's team's “cross functional know-how needed to quickly accelerate [sic] canna-businesses."
Doyen provides burgeoning legal weed companies support in real estate services, consulting and management services, research and development, industrial equipment, and green construction operations.
Geoff Thompson, CEO of Doyen elements, has believed in the marijuana business since he was a teenager. As an adult, he recognized the cannabis industry as the next greatest thing, but also knew the industry faced fundamental obstacles that he believed Doyen could find solutions to.
“[Marijuana companies] never had an opportunity for their businesses to do what they do best because there’s just no money out there that is easily attainable," Thompson said to KINDLAND.
“We broke that mold, to be able to do this.”
Doyen expects the Pepsi plant-turned-weed-grow to yield 70,000 pounds of cannabis flower per year, and says the project will have a positive impact on Pueblo, by creating more than 175 new jobs. In fact, according to Thompson, 100 percent of the Pueblo residents in the neighborhood surrounding the plant––whose signatures of permission were required before Doyen could begin construction––signed off to allow the grow facility in their neighborhood. The Doyen exec said a significant number of Pueblo residents also asked when they’d be able to apply for jobs.
Aside from making a dent in Pueblo’s unemployment rate, Doyen is also committed to creating an environmentally green facility. The firm's efforts include the use of specialized construction material, and once finished, the operation will implement hydroponic methods growing methods.
“The production standard of what’s being brought into this facility is higher than the norm in the industry, as well as the clean construction and other items that go along with it,” Thompson said.
"That’s really where that facility becomes unique unto itself.”
Thompson confirms that, even though construction isn’t anywhere close to being complete, a cannabis production company with more than a decade of skin in the weed game has already expressed interest in leasing the facility.
For Doyen, the Pepsi factory project is just the first of many. Thompson says the company plans to use the Pueblo facility as a stepping-stone on which to base and build future projects, while making improvements as needed.
On a personal level, Thompson says projects like this have made these last few years “the best couple of years of my life.” Thompson, who says he’s “inhaled once or twice,” is just enjoying watching the marijuana space grow into a legitimate, legal industry.
“It’s a wonderful industry, and it really needs to be brought out into a place where people don’t have to worry about what other people think, just because they support it. We’re very pleased with it.”