They don't grow cannabis, they certainly don't sell it, and they never had anything to do with weed in the past, but a growing array of businesses that sell products and services totally unrelated to marijuana are now making bets on cannabis legalization in Canada.
Brink's Global Services is known for its armoured trucks and armed guards, usually found transporting cash to and from banks. Now, the company's Canadian arm is marketing itself as a secure transport option for cannabis plants and finished products.
Compared to a truckload of beer, a truckload of packaged cannabis could be be a tempting target for thieves, said Joe Maulucci, Brink's general manager of global services.
"It's half the weight, it's a lot easier to take, probably easier to move than beer would be," said Maulucci at the Brink's booth on the floor of the Lift & Co. cannabis expo in Toronto in May.
"So it's more vulnerable, so you need to look at risk a little differently than you would for any other type of products."
Brink's is based in the U.S., but doesn't touch cannabis in that country due to ongoing federal marijuana prohibition, said Maulucci.
"But here in Canada, because (legalization is) federal and it's a national venture, it's easier for us to orchestrate through it."Advertisement
The cannabis industry's security needs also pose a business opportunity for ADT Security Services Canada. The maker of surveillance and security systems started selling its products and services to the Canadian cannabis industry within the last six months, said David Almasi, vice president of commercial and national accounts.
"That runs anywhere from access control, where you're putting badges in to go through doors, to video surveillance of cameras overlooking operations (and) retail, being able to store that data over X amount of time, to your standard burglar-intrusion motion detection, that sort of thing," said Almasi.
"That's ADT's bread and butter, and those solutions are definitely applicable to the cannabis industry."
Individual marijuana stores might spend thousands of dollars on an ADT security system, but large production sites could shell out much more, he said.
"When you're talking about potentially millions of square feet, or acreages, you're starting to get into hundreds of thousands of dollars and above."
Indoor cannabis farms are also getting attention from companies with roots in the food and beverage industry, such as Winnipeg's Thermo Design Insulation Ltd. The company installs custom insulated rooms, useful in temperature- and moisture-controlled production facilities.
The company's designs lend themselves well to compartmentalizing certain areas of the building, such as grow rooms and trim rooms, explained Brent Glesby, a business development manager with the company.
Thermo Design Insulation did its first cannabis-related work in 2014, installing insulated walls, ceilings and specialty doors at a Toronto-area marijuana production facility, said Glesby. He expects cannabis industry demand to increase in the years to come.
"It's been a good industry to get into," he said.
Weber Marking Systems Canada also works mostly in the food and beverage sector, selling labelling machines for bottles and jars. On the floor of the Lift & Co. expo, national sales manager Mark Quinn showed off a $20,000 automated labelling machine that stuck sample "Maui Waui" cannabis labels onto glass jars at lightning speed.
Right now, Quinn estimates the cannabis industry is only about five per cent of his company's business.
"Maybe after a show like this there's going to be opportunities," he said, adding that he "never in a million years" expected to find himself at a cannabis expo.
"But product is product... it doesn't matter if it's jam or cannabis, it's still got to go in a jar, it's still got to be labeled or ID'd, so it doesn't matter."
For Connecticut-based AtmosAir Solutions, the product is clean air. AtmosAir first saw demand for its ionic air purifiers from the cannabis industry about three years ago, said vice president of sales and marketing Carlos Gendron.
Now, cannabis companies in Connecticut, Colorado, Nevada and California are using AtmosAir scrubbers, and the Canadian market is just opening up, he said.
"I mean, we're in every sector you can think of: schools, health care, office buildings, sports facilities, and so this is a new sector for us in the last couple of years... but at the rate at which it's growing, it could very easily, within a year or two, become 20 per cent of our business," Gendron said.