Trailblazing Comes Naturally To Jennifer Speer-Harvey
It takes a special type of person to run a thriving cannabis business: you need creativity, grit, and an unrelenting love of the plant. Few people can face the insurmountable demands of this highly competitive
If we think the cannabis space is, to put it mildly, volatile in 2022, imagine landing one of the first eight licenses for a cannabis business in Oregon. Thankfully for us, Jennifer was no stranger to agriculture.
“My family has been farming here in Oregon for about the last 75 years,” she explained to us in an interview. “My grandfather started with flowering and shade trees.” After high school, she started working at the family business. It was alright, but Speer-Harvey had higher ambitions. “I did all of the accounting and management inside the building… watching my brothers work out in the field. I always wanted to be out there.”
Cannabis legalization presented the perfect opportunity to carve her own way, and Speer-Harvey seized the moment without hesitation. “My husband and I took an empty, old 1200 square foot barn and completely gutted it. Cleaned it and built it into our first grow… We built everything by hand ourselves, watching YouTube videos and [having] lots of arguments. We made it and we had our first grow, which were just eight small, teeny tiny rooms that we were running.” With one challenge out of the way, Speer-Harvey found herself confronted with another.
“There are not a lot of women in leadership roles in the cannabis space… It was kind of shocking at first.” Surprised but not discouraged, Jennifer turned her sights to building up her credibility as a cannabis industry leader. She knew that cannabis isn’t “dependent on who the [grower] is, but on the quality that they’re able to grow.” Her male counterparts, however, needed a bit more convincing that women had a place in the industry. “Being a woman walking into [a legal dispensary] … they weren’t used to seeing a lot of women walking in there and trying to sell… It was creating those relationships and getting in front of people and letting them know that I grow a quality product. I can hold my own with all of you guys.” Her persistence and know-how eventually put any doubts about her – and future women growers’ – qualifications to rest.Despite her status as an established Oregon cannabis business owner, Harmony Roots wasn’t immune to market volatility. “A lot of licenses came in [and] a lot more product [hit] the market, and the price per pound totally tanked. And then it went back up… we’re riding the wave right now, where we’re still dealing with outdoor [operations] that [are] still in the market. It’s about being able to set yourself apart and create a brand, so your name stays relevant year-round… It’s going to continue to fluctuate until federal legalization.”
By focusing on quality, she has differentiated Harmony Roots from her competitors. As a hands-on business owner, she prides herself on each and every batch of product that gets harvested. The attention to detail is evident in the beautiful flower she and her team produce. But scaling a craft operation is not a simple task. She approached expansion with the same attention to detail. The results are beyond impressive!
In order to stay competitive, she moved into a different building originally outfitted with 75 HPS lights. It wasn’t nearly enough.The larger facility was “severely under-lit,” but adding more HPS lights were out of the question due to power constraints in the building. “We can’t add more lights and more AC and more [dehumidifiers], and all of these things that we [would] need to get to our [current production standards]… If we don’t get to that point, we’re not going to produce enough weight to make this worth it. So, we had to figure out what is the most efficient way for us to get to where we needed to be.” Jennifer carefully considered alternatives to her traditional HPS lights with her perpetual growth cycle at the forefront of her mind.
By acquiring the larger space and retrofitting new LED lighting technology from BIOS Lighting, she has been able to double production per square foot while seeing significant increases in quality of her craft flower. The success she and her team have experienced is nothing short of exemplary.
Speer-Harvey has driven Harmony Roots forward to success in one of the most challenging markets in the cannabis industry. That’s not easy. As a female cannabis business owner, she is a pioneer. As a grower, she is a powerhouse. As a leader, she is an inspiration. If you’d like to learn how BIOS™ Lighting was able to help Harmony Roots expand and optimize their craft cultivation without interruption to their production schedule, check out the Harmony Roots Case Study.