MADISON, WI – Governor Scott Walker announced WholeTrees Architecture & Structures, a Madison company that rebrands round timber for residential and commercial use, has received a $170,000 loan from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).
The Technology Development Loan will be used to help the innovative company continue its expansion into the commercial market. WholeTrees plans to launch a new line of engineered building products using round timber, an effort that could create up to 76 new jobs over the next four years.
“Creating new jobs and growing our economy depends on the innovation and forward-thinking of companies like WholeTrees,” Governor Walker said. “Supporting our growing businesses, and investing in worker training fuel our efforts to keep moving Wisconsin forward.”
Founded in 2007, WholeTrees has developed the technology to cost effectively take the small diameter trees removed from routine forest thinning and fabricate them into structural building systems that can compete with steel, engineered wood and concrete.
Not only does the process provide an incentive for healthy forest management by finding a use for what would otherwise be forest waste, but the modular commercial structural building systems created by the timber have lower material and construction costs than steel or concrete.
“WEDC is pleased to support WholeTrees as it provides a cost-efficient construction product and at the same time promotes healthy management of our forests,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “This is the type of innovation that we are encouraging with the Technology Development Loan Program, which helps Wisconsin companies overcome some of the challenges that come with bringing new products or concepts to market.”
“Our innovations introduce a truly green structural system with prices that allow the green construction market to build to its aspirations,” said Amelia Baxter, president and co-founder, of the company. “A product like ours is disruptive and needs visionary capital to help it launch. The WEDC has been a supportive and innovative source of capital for our company.”
WholeTrees has developed a proprietary manufacturing process with patent-pending structural components based on research conducted with the USDA Forest Products Laboratory, and funded, in part, by more than $1 million in grants from the USDA.
WholeTrees in 2012 also received the Qualified New Business Venture (QNBV) certification from WEDC. The QNBV status makes investors in startup and early-stage companies eligible for a 25 percent tax credit on the amount they invest in the business.
WholeTrees began its business focusing primarily on residential construction. In 2012, the company began to focus on the commercial construction market by manufacturing columns, beams and other structural assemblies. WholeTrees is now planning to column and beam assemblies and open web trusses that can replace steel, concrete or engineered wood with the same results and less costs.
About the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing Wisconsin’s business climate. WEDC nurtures business growth and job creation by providing resources, technical support and financial assistance to companies, partners and communities in Wisconsin. WEDC has four focus areas: business and industry development, economic and community development, entrepreneurship and innovation and international business development. Together with more than 600 regional and local business development partners, it represents a highly responsive and coordinated network. Visit www.inwisconsin.com or follow WEDC on Twitter @_InWisconsin to learn more.
About WholeTrees Architecture & Structures
WholeTrees Architecture & Structures is headquartered in Madison. Founded in 2007 by Roald Gundersen, AIA, and Amelia Baxter, WholeTrees provides architectural services for custom applications of timber in construction; engineering and consultation; project management and sub-contracting; and cutting-edge research and development of technologies that enable the forest products industry to sell round timber, making buildings stronger and forests profitable. WholeTrees is affiliated with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Wisconsin Green Building Alliance, Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., and is an AIA Continuing Education Service Provider. WholeTrees was awarded the 2014 Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Architecture Design Award Nomination and co-founder Gundersen received the 2013 University of Minnesota, Goldstein Museum of Design’s Margot Siegel Design Award, which honors designers for innovations and enhancements to quality of life. More information is available at www.wholetrees.com.
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