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Industry highlights Feb 06, 2023

10 insights into how Stratus Designs grows business

Say “no” to more projects and only work with people you like. It’s not often CEOs base decisions on interpersonal exchanges, trusting where there is respect there will also be profit, but this is exactly how Adam Clarke likes to do business.

Stratus Designs specializes in engineering building automation solutions for cannabis facilities, indoor/greenhouse food production, and specialty GMP processing facilities. The team of four (all millennials) don’t just love what they do, they are united in why they do it: sustainability—for their customers, for their team, and for our planet.

Curious how Stratus Designs works with customers, how they’d like to see the industry evolve, and the advice they have for peers? Click on the questions below to read an interview with Mark McLellan (controls manager), Michael Richards (senior controls tech), Eric Heel (co-founder and COO), and Adam Clarke (CEO).


How did you learn about cannabis?

ADAM: When I was in my late teens, my neighbor was one of the first medical cannabis patients in the country. He had fallen off a roof and broken his back, landing him in a wheelchair. We would ride his tandem bike together—he pedalled with his hands—and we’d go process hash or grow weed. He taught me a lot. He couldn’t reach the upper shelf, so I was there to give him a hand. Everything just took off from there.

How do the plants shape your job?

MICHAEL: Understanding the environment you work in and how it affects your subject, whether that’s the person or plant, is critical. People yell at you; people get mad. Plants talk back, too, but they do it by visibly showing you something’s wrong. They say I’m unhealthy.

Sustainable vegetation for veggies—that’s the direction our world is going, post Covid. How does everybody grow their own food? How do we mass produce food that’s healthier for our population than what’s in the grocery store? Some of the methods Adam has come up with in his own farming on his property are amazing. We get to be part of it from a controls perspective, and get to mess around and make mistakes, and learn. I don’t have a background in farming, other than having a garden as a kid. My expertise is on the technical side. Everything Adam teaches me about growing cannabis and veggies—how plants interact with their environment—is easily the most fun thing to be part of.

Left to right: Michael Richards, Mark McLellan, Eric Heel, and Adam Clarke.