Welcome to the National Hemp Association’s In Conversation Series where we highlight our business members and affiliates.
This installment NHA Assistant Executive Director, Anna Chanthavongseng interviews Greg Wilson, founder of HempWood.
Floored by HempWood’s Innovation
Breathing in a toxic gas day in and day out lead the founder of HempWood to start his own company. Greg Wilson was a young engineering intern at vinyl plant in China where he was working with wood and bamboo flooring. Working at this plant for about 6-8 months lead to respiratory issues due to the formaldehyde in the resin. In 2003 he and his partner, Jimmy Song, were tasked to create fast-growing plant fiber to create a composite like bamboo. Hemp was one of the plant fibers that they worked with. Fast forward to several years later, Greg heard about hemp research and the farm bill and knew that hemp checked off all the boxes of creating a chemical-free product with the ability to sequester carbon. Hemp was his ticket back home.
Flying back to States, he landed in a state known for horse racing, fried chicken, and moonshine – but why Kentucky? For Murray State University. His destination was either between Oregon State University or MSU, but with OSU being a land grant institution at the time, he decided to go with MSU and their educational hemp research facility. MSU set up Greg and his company with a pilot plant on their school farm in 2017 and their second plant opened in 2021.
At their facility you can find old tobacco equipment that has been modified for hemp, a railcar turned on its side, and more equipment that wasn’t in existence but had to be created to operate their site. They even have what they call the ‘toilet paper on roller’.
HempWood’s ability to turn stalks and hurd into flooring material is not only innovative, but their site itself is carbon negative thanks to a local bio-burner and unused biomass. Wilson said, “And then we make our own energy in the plant as well. We are certified carbon-negative.”
Their facility is not only energy and thermal efficient, but their material is also supporting the healthy building industry which should not only be a trend, but a long-term solution.
Please be sure to check out HempWood’s website at www.hempwood.com
We hope you enjoyed this video – stay tuned for our next interview!