When a natural disaster like a major hurricane or a tragedy such as a fire in a high-rise hotel leaves their devastating and health-compromising marks, chlorine dioxide has been the restoration industry’s well-known secret to cleanup for decades.
Since launching in 2012, that’s what Phoenix-based ProKure Solutions has been providing to restoration companies that clean up businesses and residences in the aftermath of catastrophes where bacteria, molds, viruses, parasites and odors linger and thrive.
But in recent years, ProKure president Alex Cushman and his team have found another beneficiary for the company’s patented technology regarding the versatile chemical compound: the cultivation industry. Specifically, the medical cannabis industry.
The result has ProKure tripling its gross revenue since Cushman joined the company in 2017, and added the cultivation aspect, according to company data.
Making its mark on the market
And as Arizona’s medical cannabis industry faces stricter, more defined regulations next year, Cushman sees his company’s wares crucial in helping ensure the medication does what it’s supposed to by preventing subpar cannabis at the ground level.
“We’re helping growers by enforcing the best business practices… especially when those affected are people with compromised systems,” Cushman said. “We’ve taken the best practices from restoration into cultivation.”
ProKure came on to the market by unveiling a patented, water-activated pouch technology that allows chlorine dioxide to be used safely and effectively for a number of purposes in a number of applications in liquid or gas form.
With the pouch, commercial users create chlorine dioxide when combined with water. This yields an EPA-registered, pharmaceutical-grade disinfectant that kills mold and mildew with no residue or rinsing needed.
In gas form, the chemical compound is released via vapors in a humidity-activated delivery system. This accomplishes what the liquid form does plus improving air quality and protection for up to 30 days.
Before joining the team, Cushman admired ProKure’s role in disaster restoration, especially regarding a scenario like Hurricane Katrina where humanitarian help is needed and human life is in danger. He also realized its decontamination qualities that are safe and effective enough to be used after an anthrax scare could be applied to extending the life of vegetation.
He reached out to cannabis growers, saw their facilities and witnessed their processes. He saw a huge need for cleanliness, consistency and transparency. As regulation would increase, Cushman explained, they would need a product to match. ProKure’s products would help them maintain a predicable growth stream in which they’d be able to navigate the various challenges that come with this growth environment.
“Historically, it’s been a black market or some form of closet growing. We’re not dealing with a 500-foot space. Now, it’s hundreds of thousands of commercial growing space or greenhouses… A little problem can be a big problem quickly,” he said,
Protecting the crops
Today, ProKure works with growers and cultivators in every medical marijuana-regulated state and has hundreds of clients, including dozens in Arizona.
The formula that proved effective in cleanup is doing the same in a greenhouse environment where moisture and mold thrive if kept unchecked. It has also, according to ProKure’s cultivation clients, maximized the quality of their product.
Lonnie Hochstetler is among them. Hochstetler is an experienced grower and owner of Pure Products in Tempe. He has been a ProKure client for four years but started working more closely with the company for the last eight months.
Hochstetler also processes the medical cannabis he grows indoors. He started using it as a disinfectant, preferring it to the traditional bleach that was less effective, burned skin and left the distinct pungent odor. He admitted to being a more vigilant cleaner than the average grower, so he and his staff were quick to embrace ProKure’s alternative.
Today, Hochstetler uses the liquid form on every surface and the gas overnight to clean the air and get into the nooks and crannies.
“The mold spores in the air were always concerns of mine. Once it’s airborne, it’s very hard to get clean. (Now) the air we’ve tested is cleaner than it’s ever been. They come back zero as far as mold or spores,” said Hochstetler.
Hochstetler, whose company produces Mr. Honey concentrates and a soon-to-be-released flower called Arizona’s Finest, relies on ProKure to make sure his small business’ wares as at their best. Pure Products is also the offsite cultivation facility for Kind Meds in Mesa.
“I don’t run a giant farm so I can’t afford to lose crops. ProKure makes it so I don’t have those problems,” he said.
Hochstetler likes being part of the wave of medical cannabis growers that will set the bar when legislation kicks in. He doesn’t expect any hiccups from his site but anticipates competitors who don’t use ProKure, or comparable methods, may have to eventually close and their crop destroyed and patients won’t receive their medications.
“It’s by far the best product I’ve used. It streamlines things for us and takes out the questions as far as cleanliness,” he said. “I look at this as a medical facility and ProKure really helps us to get there.”
A native Phoenician, Cushman’s professional background includes consulting for a company in the chemical industry and investment banking. He started some businesses in California, where he earned a history degree from Pomona College. These professional connections led him to discover ProKure. He viewed what it did as a humanitarian effort. He also recognized there was untapped potential in a burgeoning industry.
“We have this big opportunity to be integrated pest management for the cannabis market. If we don’t allow mold and mildew, you don’t have to worry about doing things on the backend to the product,” he said.
Cushman, along with his wife and children, moved back to his hometown to be close to his family. He soon joined ProKure as a consultant, then its president.
The need for chlorine dioxide to be made onsite has been the biggest obstacle in its widespread use. ProKure’s technology removed that barrier and revolutionized the product. The pouches are safer and take up much less space than chemicals during transportation.
It also dovetails with the industry’s move away from toxic chemicals. According to a Restoration & Remediation Magazine 2018 study, 60 percent of contractors have already reduced or continue to reduce the use of toxic chemicals and 50 percent plan to increase their use of plant-based and botanical remediation products.
In addition to its cultivation clients, ProKure works with large businesses, mostly restoration companies. Cushman sees the application eventually extending into the homebuilding sector, and his current business-to-business model crossing over to consumers.
On both cultivation and restoration sides, Cushman said helping people in crisis and in need is a huge driving force.
“In the cannabis market, there’s the right way to do this and the big money way to do this. I want to look my family in the eye and say we did everything we could do keep this as transparent and clean as possible,” he said. “On the restoration side, people lost all of their worldly possessions and what we’re able to do on a humanitarian level, to make their lives better faster, to me, that’s what matters.”
Where: 5013 E. Washington St., #130, Phoenix
Interesting stat: As of 2018, the restoration industry is worth $210 billion, according to Aer Industries, a provider of commercial water damage restoration equipment.
Details: 866-206-1301, prokuresolutions.com