Margo and Gary Mermelstein hadn’t planned to get into the hydroponics industry, but they also didn’t hesitate to jump right in when their opportunity arose.
It all started when Gary offered to help solve the issues a friend was having with a DIY screen of green (ScrOG) set-up. Not only was this friend having trouble reaching all of his plants to do the low-stress training necessary for ScrOG, but his friend had “virtually destroyed” the whole set-up trying to solve a problem with one plant.
So, Gary scrapped the bamboo and trellis netting his friend was using and designed an accessible and versatile alternative out of clear polycarbonate. It didn’t take him long after that to recognize that this new design had the potential to fill a niche in the hydroponics market.
“Many want to ScrOG in a more-convenient, less-time-consuming and more effective way,” Gary says. “All of our products provide tremendous convenience to the grower who desires to use plant training techniques.”
Gary’s design, which is now sold as the P SCROG Primary and the P SCROG Pro, consists of one or two growing screens attached to a base by four supporting rods. The system’s base can accommodate 250 pounds and is wide enough for any container measuring between 10 and 22 inches. The whole thing sits on casters, which is a major selling feature. “Customers are enthusiastic about the benefit of being able to rotate the plant on the casters to trim, spray and care for their plants,” Gary says. “Some of our customers are disbled and can’t reach or lift as well as they used to, so being able to turn the plant is a huge advantage.”
The screens on both P SCROG set-ups are also easily adjusted. Growers can raise or lower each by 12 inches, helping to force horizontal growth and to provide support for swelling buds. As mentioned above, the screens are made from polycarbonate—a tough, flexible material used in bullet-proof glass. “The flexural strength of this plastic is 13,500 PSI,” Margo says. “You should see the look on people’s faces when we flex the screen, they wince, expecting a snap; then they say ‘Wow!’”
In addition to the screens being strong, they are reusable, have a UV inhibitor, are non-porous and are food-grade. They provide a clean, almost clinical look in the growroom and are washable. They can also withstand temperatures far greater than you’d ever experience in the growroom. When they finally do wear out, the screens are 100 per cent recyclable.
To be sure they were bringing a viable product to the masses, the Mermelsteins knew they had to research the market. They had prototypes made in September 2014 and toured hydroponics shops in Phoenix and Denver to gather input from potential customers. As they hoped, the response was incredibly positive. At that point, they were ready to go for it. After incorporating the company in June 2015, they produced CAD drawings, filed a patent for their design and invested in the tooling needed to make plastic injection molded parts. It took nine months of engineering, but it was worth the effort when the first SCROGGER products were sold in January 2016.
“Since we launched the P SCROG, the most common comments we hear were things like, ‘Brilliant,’ or ‘I see how it works, no need to explain,’ or ‘I could really use something like that that,’” shares Gary. Similarly, Margo says they have not had a single customer complaint about the quality or assembly of their products. “Our main components to the P SCROG—the screens, base and junction caps—are molded right here in the USA,” she says. “The system is very well constructed with high-quality materials.”
Recently, the company expanded their lineup to include the P SCROG 4×4. This set-up is designed for growers with large, multiple plants using 4×4 or 4×8 trays and tables. These frames can be daisy chained together for large commercial applications.
In addition to their solid product line, great customer service has been one of the company’s strengths, with seven days a week support just a phone call or email away. “We are always happy to talk to shop owners and growers about the P SCROG,” says Gary.
Today, SCROGGER sells both on the web and in about a dozen hydroponic stores across the US, but they expect that number to grow rapidly. The company also works with a distributor in Canada and has its products in Australia. “We are adding more hydroponic stores every month,” says Margo.
While the Mermelsteins believe the hydroponic market is very different from their prior business experience, they feel the opportunities the industry presents are excellent, and they believe SCROGGER will play an important role in providing convenience and simplicity to growers everywhere.