Profile: RotoGro International Ltd.


RotoGro International Ltd is a manufacturer of a system that may revolutionize how things are grown, the technology is evolving and could be a game-changer.

We sat down with Michael Carli, Managing Director and Jordan Carlin, Business Development Officer to discuss the business, why they joined the company and why Caledon is the center of their operations.

Describe what you do here.

Michael: We are a multi-faceted company but everything we do is focused on developing both the equipment and software to grow the highest quality plants in the most efficient way.

We own and manufacture our proprietary RotoGro® rotational hydroponic garden systems and we also have proprietary rights to a fertigation system (which delivers both fertilizers and water) that serves either multi-unit hydroponic systems or traditional flat-bed operations.  We hold a Health Canada license for the analysis of lawful cannabis which is conducted by our botanists at our laboratory located here in Caledon.

We own a US patent for the complete rotational system and other Canadian and US patents and patents-pending for various components of the system, making it a very engaging product.

Our RotoGro® system fills a growing need in the cannabis industry: it produces higher yields in less space at lower costs.  The system is also utilized to cultivate fresh produce/perishables such as lettuce.

Our manufacturing company is a Canadian company and is wholly-owned by a public company traded on the Australian Securities Exchange.  Many of the public company’s stockholders are Canadians.

And the facility?

Michael: We have been operating our business from our Caledon facility for a couple years.  It sits at approximately 20,000 sq. ft., comprised of a botanical laboratory, grow rooms, our manufacturing facility, and our administrative offices.  We have 15 employees, including our engineers, plant scientists/botanists, and designers.  The inventor of the RotoGro® system and the founder of the original company, Roto-Gro Inc., remains involved and is employed by our company.

Tell us about your journey with the Company.

Michael: I have been involved with the company in various roles for over 20 years, initially providing legal counsel.  Since the initial public offering for the Australian company in 2017, I have been the Managing Director.  I realized very early on the great potential for this business.  It’s exciting to be a member of a dynamic team in a growth industry.

Jordan: I started with RotoGro this year, in January. I have always had a career in business-to-business sales but was interested in the cannabis industry as a new growth industry and decided to come work for RotoGro.  After seeing the potential in the product, the technology is so exciting and once I spoke to the people here -- knowing the whole team is working toward a common goal -- I knew it was something I wanted to be part of.

Michael:  Some people may be tentative about our technology and the innovative way we cultivate plants but whenever someone visits our facility to witness what we do first-hand, there is a wow factor.  Our operation is very impressive.

Jordan: Once I saw all the pieces in place – and the common mentality throughout the organization of “how do we continue to grow the company and achieve success with the total array of solutions we can provide” -- that’s what I was looking for in my career and the dynamic here is great.

What brought the company to Caledon?

Michael: The inventor of the RotoGro® system lives in Caledon; operating the business from a facility close to home was important to him.

The real estate search for our building brought us to Caledon.  The price was right and there’s good access to transportation and the airport, which is important for our business.

We also committed to the location having already had positive experiences working with the Town. There is red tape wherever you go but the Town is proactive in dealing with business owners here. That is something to consider when choosing a location.

Our intention is to also cultivate at another facility in Caledon once our Health Canada license is processed. We’re not interested in going anywhere else, we want to grow our business here.

Do you find it challenging to be in a business associated with cannabis? And eventually being a cultivator:  Is there a stigma that goes along with that?

Jordan: I attended the public meeting for the zoning by-law change recently; there were a number of interested parties there but no negativity about having the industry here.

That is encouraging.

It’s important that the municipality does their due diligence. It’s very positive that Caledon is dealing with this as a new industry and doing what they need to do rather than saying no based on stigma.

It’s always good when local government is onside. When business is following the Health Canada requirements then you end up with good, clean pharmaceutical grade facilities. It is important for local governments, landlords and the general public to understand this

Some landlords are not happy about the cultivators, but it’s an education process and we’re happy to do that. We have been able to navigate the process.

The good thing is that Health Canada has put the necessary regulatory assurances in place.  It is one of the most highly regulated industries in the world right now. The rest of the world is watching Canada; we need to get it right.

It’s an exciting growth industry, with good jobs. There is and will continue to be vast technology growth, compared to everything else. We’re prepared to take a foothold – producing quality product in a highly efficient manner.

How do you hope to evolve the company/technology?

Michael: I see so much potential for our technology: Down the line, when the company is able to do so, I see the possibility of using our RotoGro® system in remote areas of our country, like the far north where they have difficulty sourcing affordable fresh produce.  

Our system may also be used to cultivate produce for our military in remote or hostile areas.  Almost any leafy vegetable or berry can be grown using our system. 

Our systems can be used in an underground, secure location, growing reliable healthy produce.  It may be the perfect technology to resolve issues like deliberate contamination of crops.

We have often joked about sending our RotoGro® system to Mars.  The myriad of applications and opportunities for our technology is exciting.

There has been a significant amount of upfront investment, but our business is turning the corner.  Jordan is working on some significant sales orders that will provide good cash flow. Our achievements over the past six months have been invigorating.

How do you keep your team working as a team?

Jordan: The dynamic here is great. We don’t really utilize assigned offices. We prefer to sit in the “war room” and share ideas, strategize. We are growing quickly and need everyone together to keep things going in the right direction.

Michael: We often eat lunch together, not necessarily talking about work - just talking. Sometimes we grab fresh lettuce or tomatoes from the grow rooms – that’s a tasty perk of working here!

Jordan: We try to keep it fun and empower our employees by seeking input from all levels of the organization. We’re always collaborating as a team about how to continuously evolve and make things better.  Most companies are very siloed, but we recognize we need to be on the same page and work together.

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