MURRAY, Ky. - The $5.8 million HempWood plant coming to Kentucky is ready to go, barring the delivery of an industrial wood press from China.
Fibonacci, the company who makes HempWood, a reverse engineered and patent-pending wood substitute, is still awaiting the press, which is taking longer than expected. Production is set to begin in Q3, which begins July 1.
Fibonacci said the late press results from the company's decision to get machinery certified by UL. UL is a global safety company whose certification process requires machinery to meet stringent safety standards. The company had hoped to begin production earlier.
Besides the press, production is ready to go at the 16,500-square-foot facility.
“We look forward to being a productive member of Kentucky’s agricultural and manufacturing communities, and the enormous opportunities of HempWood as a renewable alternative to Oak,” said Greg Wilson, owner of Fibonacci. The company has already contracted more than 800 tons of hemp stalks through Kentucky growers.
Advantages over traditional oak hardwood include a higher availability, a much quicker grow time of six months, and a 20 percent higher density, says Fibonacci. The company says it could be used in furniture, flooring, and other woodworking projects.
HempWood will be available in blocks, pre-sawn boards, flooring, and finished products such as cutting boards and skateboards at prices lower than oak, the company says on its website.
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved $300,000 in tax incentives for the operation. The incentives, based on performance, will allow Fibonacci to keep some of its investment by meeting job and investment targets. The company will also receive no-cost recruitment and job placement servies from the Kentucky Skills Network.
“The commonwealth’s burgeoning hemp industry is quickly gaining national attention, and this exciting project will significantly intensify that spotlight,” Kentucky's Governor Matt Bevin said. “This hardwood alternative opens up new possibilities within the construction and woodworking industries and emphasizes the capabilities hemp has across numerous sectors. We are grateful to Greg Wilson and Fibonacci LLC for locating the United States’ first HempWood operation in Kentucky, and we look forward to the powerful impact the company will have on the region’s economy and the overall industry.”
Wilson was inspired to create the HempWood product after working for a bamboo flooring company. He co-owns SmartOak, which manufacturers engineered wood products from would-be waste logs.
Wilson told the Murray Ledger that he is planning seven other HempWood facilities around the country.
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