The Natural Abundance of Business
By Marceliano Briones, Journalism Intern, Turner Center for Entrepreneurship, Bradley University
Luke Haverhals, Founder and CEO of Natural Fiber Welding, Inc. (NFW) has a unique background and technical training that has enabled him to comprehend fundamental physics and atoms all the way up to how global systems work. It was this comprehensive education that positioned Luke to conceive of the idea of NFW, a materials company that enables people to manufacture textiles, furniture and more directly from natural materials that farmers can grow.
The company’s goal is to build new technologies that create material wealth that scales to the planet’s population. How? By demonstrating that nature and sustainable agriculture combined with ‘closed-loop’ chemistry and automation can do just that for “as long as the sun shines.” With this goal in mind, NFW can directly manufacture products that come from abundant natural sources and that improve the lives of people. Such manufacturing techniques are simultaneously better for the environment even as they can make people less dependent on fossil fuels and petroleum-based plastics that can never scale to 7.5 billion people (and growing).
Luke credits his relationships with Chad Stamper, Steve and Ken Zika for getting the company off the ground - Chad and Steve specifically assisted and mentored Luke through issues of the intellectual property, fundraising, and business development. In addition, Jim Foley, Director, Illinois SBDC International Trade Center at Bradley University has been helpful to transfer knowledge regarding import and export regulations.
NFW is maturing much faster than many could have expected by recognizing that lean startup principles and customer discovery are the key to “help to know what technologies solve real business needs.” In addition, NFW is gaining major traction with many large, iconic partnering companies with a holistic intellectual property portfolio consisting of breakthrough chemistry patents, automation, business agreements, and other knowhow which work synergistically together. NFW is earning a reputation of building scalable technology solutions within the multi-trillion dollar per year textile industry. As proof, last fall NFW was accepted into the prestigious Fashion for Good Scaling Programme - one that “supports innovations that have the potential to change the fashion industry.” While the company has huge potential, it is still a daring feat for NFW to enter such a large global industry. With this mind, the team has worked strategically and diligently to amplify resources and engaging key industry players to maximize impact.
With the future in sight, Luke states it is of significance to “have a lot of fun along the way” on the journey of a changing the world. It is hard to know exactly where Natural Fiber Welding will top out at, but there is reason to believe that Natural Fiber Welding is building something incredibly valuable and that can alter human history in a very positive way.
Dr. Luke Haverals, Founder & CEO Steve Zika, COO