As marijuana blooms, construction booms

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With the legalization of recreational use launching this year, 2019 could be called the year of marijuana. 2020 will likely be even bigger, and the profits will extend beyond just those who sell or smoke.

Orion Construction’s logo can be found in front of developing town houses, retail stores and high-rise hotels around West Michigan. The company is now seeing a nice slice of its work coming from building the marijuana shops and grow facilities that will be opening soon.

Orion currently has five marijuana retail facilities under construction — four in Grand Rapids and one in Traverse City — as well as two grow operations, including one on Oak Industrial Drive NE in Grand Rapids.

The grow and retail operators are mostly from out of state and have experience operating facilities in places like Colorado, where recreational marijuana has been legal since 2014.

“They have a pretty specific knowledge on what they want, what they need and how it’s going to operate,” Roger Rehkopf, president and owner of Orion Construction, said. “It’s very sophisticated and the guys know what they’re doing.”

His company subcontracts for all the building, electrical, drywall and other trades, working out to several hundred jobs over the next year.

“Lights, electrical, HVAC, humidity control, they’re pretty sophisticated buildings,” Rehkopf said.

The main difference between retail marijuana outlets and average retail stores is the need for heightened security.

“It has a lot more security to it, it has different egress and exiting that you would have in a typical retail,” Rehkopf said.

“Each facility we’re building has a full vault, concrete-encased vault, that we’re putting inside,” Jeff Smigielski, project manager for Orion Construction, explained.

There are more projects in the hopper.

“Right now, we are looking at five other facilities that will start in 2020, so we’re seeing that it will grow,” Rehkopf said.


Marijuana in Michigan