Recently, consolidation within the cannabis industry has been seen through several mergers and acquisitions. Many of these transactions have included product and technology firms, but there is one acquisition, in particular, that is going to have quite a significant impact not only on the cannabis industry but on the larger indoor Controlled Environment Agriculture sector.
urban-gro has acquired the architecture firm MJ12 Design Studio in a move that makes urban-gro a one-stop company supporting growers with full-building turnkey design solutions including architecture, engineering, and cultivation systems integration. “Our role as an Architecture and Engineering firm truly sets us apart from the rest of the industry,” says Sam Andras, AIA, senior principal and partner at MJ12 Design Studio. “This acquisition has created a company that truly integrates turnkey design solutions under one roof.”
MJ12 Started Early in Cannabis Facility Design
The story of MJ12 Design Studio goes back to the very inception of the cannabis industry. “MJ12 Design Studio’s parent company of 2WR,” Andras recounts. “For 20 years, we had offices in the deep south, and we were working on federal projects. Then, we saw a tremendous opportunity with the legalization of cannabis in Colorado. So, we had to come up with a different brand for our cannabis design services. If you dig back in history, President Harry Truman had a group whose mission was to investigate alien activity. This secret group was called The Majestic 12, and the acronym was MJ12. So, since we were going to be a ‘secret’ architectural firm, MJ12 was the perfect name. From that moment on, we have designed over 100 cultivation facilities, with projects across North America and beyond - including Gibraltar, North Macedonia, and New Zealand.”
The Convergence of Architecture, Engineering and Plant-focused Systems
Bradley Nattrass, Chairman, and CEO of urban-gro notes, “With the acquisition of MJ12 Design Studio, urban-gro is integrating full building architecture services with MEP engineering design and cultivation systems design/integration. The integration of design services provides cultivators with complete building and cultivation systems design and integration for their cultivation, processing, extraction, and retail facilities. This is the industry’s first end-to-end turn-key design services for the indoor CEA sector.”
The acquisition by urban-gro marks the culmination of the dream Sam had for MJ12. “Although the company as a whole serves different sectors, I have been focusing solely on cannabis for the last 7 years,” Sam points out. “For me, this acquisition is the logical step to integrate our design from architectural design to now include full MEP engineering and full cultivation systems design focused on equipment and plant-focused systems integration. By augmenting MJ12 Design Studio’s architectural services, urban-gro offers growers a complete suite of design solutions completely tailored to their needs, with the added benefits that every part of the procurement set-up and commissioning of the cultivation will be managed by one entity, capable of taking care of client from initial planning and programming to an efficient and profitable cannabis cultivation facility.”
Experience Gleaned from Cannabis Cultivation Benefits Indoor Crops
urban-gro has expanded into traditional crops including indoor and vertical farming of vegetables and leafy greens.
“urban-gro is now including full building turnkey design solutions for indoor food crop production,” Brad says. “We have gained such a strong understanding of the design and environmental controls of indoor CEA. With Sam’s team, we can provide clients with early stage architectural services.”
Sam explains that MJ12's experience and knowledge in the cannabis sector will be fundamental to complement urban-gro’s design approach. “There’s an opportunity to share experience, and technologies, and systems. Cannabis is much more intense in terms of the indoor environment, VPD, and so on. So, the acquisition of MJ12 by urban-gro creates a firm where this sharing of knowledge and experience across different crops is truly ingrained into the company’s culture.”
Sam concludes, “To add architectural services to urban-gro’s engineering and plant-focused systems integration for the larger agricultural CEA sector is a miracle made in heaven.”