Features

‘Right place, right time’ for Flowr

Published on October 15, 2020 by David Wylie

Flowr is one of the biggest licensed producers in the Okanagan. This is part one of the oz.’s interview with the company’s CEO Vinay Tolia.


“Call it right place, right time.”

That’s how Vinay Tolia, CEO of The Flowr Corporation, describes the rise of its BC Pink Kush to the No. 1 spot in the coveted Ontario market.

Tolia says just like everyone else, Flowr didn’t really know what rec consumers would gravitate toward two years ago.

As it turns out, it happened to be Pink Kush.

“We adjusted our strategy to really lean into that strain,” says Tolia.

It’s paid off.

“That Pink Kush has really connected. It’s the No. 1 selling strain in Ontario, which is obviously a coveted spot,” he said, adding the feat is even more impressive considering BC Pink Kush is a pricier premium product.

The best-selling bud was grown in Flowr’s state-of-the art facility on the border of Kelowna and Lake Country. The company has its HQ in Toronto, the capital of cannabis business.

Flowr’s BC Pink Kush is impressive. Photo: David Wylie/the oz.

Kelowna 1 is an 85,000-square-foot indoor facility that’s capable of producing 10,000 kilos of cannabis. It contains 20 highly controlled grow rooms that are about 1,730 square feet each.

Tolia says consistency is an overlooked aspect of growing.

“There’s no central body that checks each strain to make sure that it is what they… that it has the correct lineage and all that,” he tells the oz. in a call from Toronto.

You can have the exact same genetics, but the plants are unique at the chemical level depending on the conditions under which they are grown.

Flowr can grow within a tight band of THC levels.

“What the consumer wants is consistency,” he said.

BC Black Cherry and Lilac diesel are the next strains to hit the market.

Flowr Corporation CEO Vinay Tolia officiated at a groundbreaking ceremony in 2018 for the cannabis company’s research and development facility on McCarthy Road in Kelowna. Photo: The Kelowna Daily Courier

Flowr is now getting set to open the Hawthorn R&D Facility, located adjacent to Kelowna 1.

The facility is focused on advanced cultivation techniques and systems; such as growth media, nutrient formulations, irrigation and lighting systems, plant genetics and integrated growing systems. It’s operated as part of a strategic alliance with Hawthorne Gardening Company.

There’s an enormous amount of engineering that went into the facility, says Tolia.

At the moment, there are no more significant expansions planned for the Okanagan.

“We don’t want to be like some of these other cannabis companies that really overbuilt their facilities,” he said. “For any business to survive long-term it’s got to profitable, so if we want to keep growing in Kelowna and make everyone happy that’s got to be our main priority.”

The Okanagan Valley is a beautiful place. The end of this rainbow is near Flowr’s Kelowna campus. Photo: David Wylie/the oz.

As for why the company chose to operate in Kelowna…

“We get this question a lot,” he says.

“There’s lots of people who say it must be because of the deep cannabis culture. That’s nice, don’t get me wrong. We’ve definitely benefited from that. The answer is that some of our founding team—our founding team was part of the founding team of MedReleaf in Ontario—they basically fell in love with the Okanagan. They were visiting Kelowna and they said ‘why would we live anywhere else? When I was out there, I started looking online for homes just to see.”

“We’ve seen the quality of talent available in Kelowna steadily increase since we’ve been there.”

In Part 2, we’ll look at Flowr’s branding evolution, its expansion into other parts of the world, the value of its Toronto HQ, and whether drinks are in the LP’s future.