2590 Walnut St
Denver, CO 80205
Interview with Whit Allen, Founder/CEO
How did the company get started?
In 2017, executives from three companies that were already working together in the LED lighting space attended a conference in Denver that was focused on horticulture lighting. They realized that there were better ways and newer technologies that could be used for growing plants than what was being exhibited at this conference. Using their ideas and varied expertise, SpectraGrow was incubated out of these companies’ input and was ultimately spun out as its own corporation in 2019. There were 7 total founders, each with a unique set of qualifications and industry experience. For example, one founder was the owner of an orchid greenhouse business.
What does SpectraGrow specialize in?
The big differentiator for our company, when compared to many other existing LED grow light businesses, is our focus on providing high levels of light uniformity, both on the horizontal and vertical planes. This, combined with the very precise lighting plans we produce for customers, is what we call ‘3D Plant Lighting.’ Our ‘secret sauce’ is using advanced optical materials and 3D simulation tools.
How does using your LED lighting help a customer?
This precision lighting approach can help increase yields, reduce harvest cycle times, extend growing seasons and improve product quality and consistency. One reason for this is that we reduce hot spots and cold spots, so the lighting is more uniformly what the plants need. And, in today’s world where energy efficiency is a top priority for many companies, we help customers do this with less wasted energy.
What markets do you serve?
Currently our biggest market is controlled environment food production, both in greenhouses and indoor farms. But we also serve traditional horticulture greenhouses as well as the cannabis industry. Most of our business comes from new greenhouse construction where growers want the best, most efficient lighting for their specific crops.
What trends are you seeing?
As companies look to gain greater energy efficiencies we’re seeing moves from traditional high-pressure sodium and fluorescent lamps to LED systems. Once thought to be too pricey, LED prices have come down significantly over the years and continue to improve in efficiency, making the transition more attractive. Food production in greenhouses is another trend that bodes well for us, too. Regional growing is serving local markets better than food produced in far away states. We’re seeing a greater focus on scientific investigations into all aspects of plant lighting, leading to more specific light spectrum recipes. A prime example of this work is taking place at Colorado State University’s Spur Campus in Denver.
How does SpectraGrow benefit from being a CNGA member? We value the networking that CNGA provides. It puts us in touch with potential customers as well as other types of member businesses that we can tap, such as financial services. Education is key to us and CNGA helps in that regard, too. We want to learn more about the horticulture industry and the challenges associated with growing different types of plants. That in turn feeds our focus on being a problem solving company – we’re here to help other members any way we can.