BIG RAPIDS — A new marijuana provisioning center, RAIR, is estimated to begin construction this September in front of Dunham’s Sports, at 702 Perry Avenue.
“We were anxious to get into the cannabis industry, like many businesses,” RAIR Chief Operating Officer Patrick Frakes said.
Entering their final phases of setting up shop, Frakes said RAIR will be offering both medical and adult-use recreational opportunities including new products, edibles, powder packets, drops and more.
Coming from a real estate development background, Frakes said he’s had a special connection with knowing how much cannabis can help those around him.
“I, unfortunately, lost both of my parents to cancer. One in 2012, one in 2015,” he said.
Frakes said his father had pancreatic cancer, and his mother had esophageal cancer.
Though his father did not use cannabis to ease his pain, Frakes said his mother found comfort and relief through cannabis edibles and drops, before her passing. Seeing this had a lasting impact on his, Frakes said.
“Going through that process as a child, I was really moved by the fact that my mother was able to hold food down and be more active, even until the last day,” he said.
Moved by the results cannabis can have, Frakes decided to venture into the cannabis industry, hoping to make a living and do good things for the community and his patients.
“Myself and our founder, Kevin McFadden, were both moved by that opportunity,” he said.
Originally from Virginia, the two considered Michigan to be a unique state to grow their business.
“We (now) have 22 people living in various places all over the state,” Frakes said.
As the business became reality, the two took the plunge, purchasing a 17-acre piece of land in Jackson, and building a grow facility there almost a year ago.
“We are seed to sale,” Frakes said, noting how they grow, package and sell their own products. “We’re really trying to develop a Michigan brand is what RAIR is all about.”
According to Frakes, the name RAIR comes from how each of their products are grown aeroponically, meaning they are never put in dirt, but are instead suspended in the air during the growth process.
As they grow, the roots are exposed to water, air and the nutrients that are sprayed on them.
“It provides a real level of consistency to growing, but it also reduces 70% of potential contaminants — bugs, bacteria — anything you can find,” Frakes said, adding that it also helps RAIR continue to be a pesticide-free brand.
Becoming operational with their grow unit, Frakes said RAIR really wanted to open up into expanding communities — with Big Rapids being at the top of the list.
“We were really looking at Big Rapids from the get-go,” he said.
“We want to have a very upscale, commercially-attractive building, and we want to have an environment where everyone can feel comfortable coming in.”
Though building an establishment from the ground up typically takes time, Frakes hope is to be under construction within a few months.
“We are expected to be under construction, hopefully, by September,” he said. “(We’re) hopeful that we’ll have our building open by next summer.”
As well as having a business in Big Rapids, RAIR is looking to open shop in Lowell, Kalamazoo, Muskegon and more.
“What I’m really looking forward to, in particular, is being a member of Western Michigan as a whole,” he said.
“Lowell, Kalamazoo and Big Rapids will all open next year, but I would say the coolest thing about Big Rapids and Western Michigan as a whole is one, I think, is the amazing community.”
As well as connecting with the local community, Frakes said he is looking forward to having his three directors running the industry: Molly McFadden, director of retail operations; Ashley Hubbard, director of cultivation; and Marley Hodson, director of procession and extraction.
“They are amazingly intelligent, and I think they are incredibly insightful,” Frakes said. “They teach me every day, and they are helping take this company and this industry to where it’s supposed to be.”
To stay up to date with the business, visit rairsystems.com.
“We’re really excited to become the brand of Western Michigan,” he said. “I’m hopeful that we’ll become the go-to company, and by growing our business successfully, that’s going to really allow us to give back to the communities where we’re participating in, and have a positive impact.”