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Going Green: Paint Shop Eyes Pot Op

Friday, June 28, 2013

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Now, here's a protective coatings factory destined for a higher purpose and extended pot life.

A former PPG Industries plant in Watertown, CT, may find a groovy new life as a medical marijuana production plant.

Ethan Ruby, owner of Theraplant, has signed a letter of intent to buy the 10-acre manufacturing site in Watertown's Industrial Park, although he is hoping to negotiate a deal substantially less than the $2.5 million asking price.

Medical marijuana
Mjpresson / Wikimedia Commons

Connecticut legalized medical use of marijuana last year. The state plans to issue a limited number of production licenses, but none has been awarded.

The site includes a 63,443-square-foot building where Keeler & Long, and later PPG, produced protective coatings.

Ruby presented his pot-producing business plan to Watertown's Economic Development Commission on June 20.

'Tremendous Asset'

Connecticut legalized medical marijuana use and production in May 2012, but the state has not yet begun to issue what will be a limited number of licenses for such operations.

Keeler & Long plant

PPG Industries bought Keeler & Long, and its facility in Watertown, CT, in 1997. Keeler & Long built the plant in 1973. The asking price: $2.5 million.

Ruby, whose company is based in Colorado, believes that his operation would be a good fit for Connecticut, and vice-versa.

"This state has a very interesting opportunity to lead the rest of the country," Ruby said. "If it's done correctly, it's a tremendous asset."

The University of Pennsylvania graduate began using marijuana for pain relief after a November 2000 car accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. He is married with two young children.

From Paint to Pot

The plant was built in 1973 by Keeler & Long, a producer of coil coatings and protective coatings for electric-utility generating equipment and facilities. PPG acquired Keeler & Long and the facility, which then employed 60 people, in 1997.

Keeler & Long plant - Watertown, CT Keeler & Long plant - Watertown, CT

The old coatings facility would require $2 million in renovations and $1 million in lighting upgrades, Ruby says.

Not surprisingly, the plant would require fairly extensive renovation to shift from paint to pot, but Ruby told The Hartford Courant that he has the green to do so.

"Theraplant has $750,000 from angel investors and early approval for $7 million in additional funding if the company gets a license to grow medical marijuana in Connecticut," the newspaper reported. Renovations would cost $2 million up front and possibly $2 million more down the road, depending on production increases.

Ruby also plans to spend $800,000 to $1 million on lighting and other assets to grow marijuana, he told the Courant.

The facility would employ 50 to 150 employees, depending on demand.

Site security, Ruby adds, would be a top priority.


Tagged categories: Chemical Plants; Coatings manufacturers; PPG; Renovation

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