Union Electric has partnered with leading greenhouse growers to provide premium cannabis at affordable prices.
Proper and Union Electric have teamed up for this farm-focused series that tells the stories behind your bud. The second farm we’re highlighting provides you with strains tried and true, and brand new. Wave Rider Nursery prioritizes pheno-hunting in Salinas to give the cannabis community some of the best buds under the California sun. Let’s dig in to learn about their property, people, process and purpose.
Spending a day at Wave Rider provided a welcomed reminder that you can end up where you’re meant to be without ever meaning to get there. This cannabis company has always been a family operation, and while it’s wrong to say that Drew simply followed in his father’s footsteps, he always knew where to pick up the trail. Though neither of them thought it would lead to such a massive operation in Monterey. From the overall climate to individual practices, there’s nothing typical about growing cannabis outside the City of Salinas. Wave Rider’s operation is no different. Driving through the guard shack past rows of greenhouses looks similar enough, but before long you see what sets them apart from the other growers that border them on every side.
Walking up the steps to their office, you’ll often hear the familiar sound of friends ragging on each other. It would be easy to slap a label on Wave Rider and say, “This is what a cannabis company looks like when a bunch of surfers from Santa Cruz get together and start growing weed.” And while there is a sort of “Lords of Dogtown” feel to their origin story and friendships, that would be a far too reductionist way of putting it, and a disservice to their dedication to the plant.
In fact, spending their youth trying to catch the perfect wave set them up for what they're doing today, and what they hope to accomplish in the future. A hundred things need to go right to ride a wave, and a hundred things need to go right to produce the premium strains they do on a regular basis.
For Drew, the knowledge of how to master both came from his father, and together they form the growing side of Wave Rider’s leadership team. The current facility was purchased in 2016, but the history of Wave Rider goes back much, much further. Their roadmap is almost reminiscent of a roving band from Laurel Canyon in the 70’s. They collaborated in backyards to create something revolutionary, and once people got a taste they couldn't get enough. These beach boys went from getting their footing in the industry to headlining with hit strains. Members and facilities have come and gone, and those who left have started their own thing and are thriving in their own way.
Being around cannabis operations has been a part of Drew’s life for as long as he can remember, but his true induction to the family business came in 2012. His father was building two compliant medicinal greenhouses in a buddy’s backyard, and reached out to see if he wanted to help. He was already running a successful screen printing business out of his home, but he had experience in construction and figured he might as well lend a hand to get the things off the ground. Once everything was up and running he returned home, but he’d soon receive a call that would set his cannabis career in motion.
During the first grow at this site, his father had a heart attack. Drew dove in and took care of the entire harvest. He dried, bucked and trimmed everything, and just like that the seed of cannabis curiosity was sown. He started to get more involved as time allowed, and the rest is history. His father recovered quickly and was back on site in no time, but Drew's interest was piqued, and there was no going back.
That space was about 5,000 square feet, and before long they moved on to build another site double the size. Drew paused to laugh as he looked back to what he thought was a huge operation at the time. He still had his screen-printing business going in the background, but the writing was on the wall for him to get more involved. The guy handling all of the clones at their second facility wasn’t working out, so Drew stepped in to take the reins. If there’s a moment to point to when everything changed, it’s here. This is the genesis story of Drew’s obsession with genetics.
This new role gave him the ability to start something of his own, and truly wrap his head around how he wanted to carve out his corner in cannabis. After filling each greenhouses with clones, he was free to keep and do what he pleased with whatever was left. This led to a pretty substantial nursery business, but it also stoked his creative fire to push and explore the potential of the plant.
“From facility to phenotype to flower, everything’s planned, and nothing’s left to chance.”
It didn't take long for them to outgrow their second site, and they were soon faced with the decision of where to go from there. At the time, the flowering canopy tax in the area was so high, and the flower business itself was such a mess, that it made sense to stick with the nursery model. Not only was this the right move economically, it also helped establish the meaningful and substantial partnerships they maintain today. Now that the flower market has rebounded and they’ve ramped up their production, it certainly doesn't hurt that the best clones around come from their own facility. Having such a strong genetic backbone is something Wave Rider takes seriously at every step of the process. From facility to phenotype to flower, everything’s planned, and nothing’s left to chance.
There’s a quote from Lincoln that says, “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six sharpening my axe.” And you can pretty much look at anything Wave Rider’s ever done and see this thought process baked in. Their current facility came fairly equipped, and where most companies would’ve jumped right in to get the ball rolling, they took the time to perfect it in their own way. It took a year before they put their first plant in, and even at the time of writing this article, four years later, they’re finishing their last greenhouse.