Can-Filters has been in business at 6 Mile since 1989. Photo: Can-Filters website

UPDATED: Can-Filters closes, 27 Nelson employees let go

Shutdown part of parent company strategy to corner international cannabis hydroponics supply market

This story was updated on May 9 with the addition of the fourth last paragraph (the second quote from Molly Jennings).

Can-Filters, in business on the North Shore since 1989, has been shut down by its parent company, Hawthorne Gardening. Twenty-seven employees were let go this week with one day’s notice.

Can-Filters manufactured and sold energy-efficient inline fans, and filters for use in industrial, commercial, residential, farming and greenhouse applications.

In October 2017, Can-Filters was bought by Hawthorne, a wholly owned subsidiary of Scott’s Miracle-Gro, which is a multinational garden supply company that has made no secret of its intention to take over the cannabis hydroponics market.

Scott’s has traditionally sold fertilizers, plant foods, soils and mulches, pest controls, grass seed and bird food.

But the company’s CEO Jim Hagedorn signaled a new direction in 2016 with his oft-quoted intention, first published in a 2016 article in the U.S. business magazine Forbes, to “invest, like, half a billion in the pot business. It is the biggest thing I’ve ever seen in lawn and garden.”

The purchase and shut down of Can-Filters in Nelson and its two other locations in the U.S. and one in Chile appears to be the latest in a string of acquisitions toward this end.

In the past five years, Scott’s has purchased the continent’s top distributor of hydroponic products, Sunlight Supply Inc., as well as a number of other large hydroponic related businesses including General Hydroponics, Vermicrop Organics, Tru-Green, Gavita Horticultural Lighting, Botanicare and Blossom.

In an email to the Star, Scott’s spokesperson Molly Jennings wrote, “The decision is part of a larger business initiative we’re calling Project Catalyst. The goal of which is to drive no less than $35 million in synergies within the Hawthorne business, of which Can-Filter is part of, over the next 18 months. When we announced the combination of our subsidiary Hawthorne and Sunlight Supply earlier this year, we communicated that we would be taking a game changing step to create the strongest business in the hydroponics industry. With the acquisition of Sunlight Supply compete as of last week, we’re beginning the process.”

About the former employees of Can-Filters, Jennings wrote, “Decisions such as these are difficult and are emotional for all involved. We very much appreciate their service and their work and are focused on helping to do what we can to help them make the transition to their next phase.”

Scott’s is also the exclusive agent for the marketing and distribution of the herbicide Roundup, manufactured by Monsanto.

In 2012 Scott’s pled guilty and paid a $4.5 million fine for selling 73 million units of bird seed from 2005 to 2008 that was coated with pesticide known by the company to be deadly to birds and fish. That same year, the company was fined $4 million for 11 criminal violations of the U.S. Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

Jennings said the Can-Filters building at 6 Mile will be sold.

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