Who is Natural Fiber Welding? And how they are positively impacting the environment.
Natural Fiber Welding Inc, Peoria IL, is a company that is an industry leader in completely sustainable fabrics. They specialize in synthesizing the highest quality fabrics while minimizing the footprint we leave in our environment. Their vision is “We envision a world that doesn’t rely on plastic, where abundant natural materials enable people and the planet to thrive together. We’re obsessed with leaving the world better than we found it.” Their mission is “to invent and manufacture shockingly sustainable materials from plants. Beginning with inherently circular, natural ingredients, Natural Fiber Welding is making a material-rich, plastic-free future possible.” Natural Fiber Welding (NFW) was founded in 2015 by Luke Haverhals, Ph.D. who is now the CEO and continues to lead NFW along with Steve Zika, the current President, and other members of the executive management team toward their goal of “full circle” sustainability. For our research we had the pleasure of interviewing with both Ross Miller who is an Assistant Corporate Secretary & Business Strategy Associate at NFW and Amber Robinson who is NFW’s Public Relations Manager.
Some successes NFW has experienced have been in regards to the patent and trademark category. As an industry leader in the space of environmentally sustainable material, they currently have 23 patents issued and allowed, and 108 patent applications pending worldwide. As well as 63 registered trademarks and 132 trademark applications pending. They are looking to do good not only here in their community but they’re onsite to become a global brand, currently scaling is the main goal of NFW to be able to meet the high demand that they are experiencing.
In working with industry leaders like Ralph Lauren, BMW, and New Balance, the demand for higher quantities of these materials are increasing. So NFW is currently in a phase of a manufacturing expansion, going from being able to produce a sheet of fabric to then a roll of fabric to be able to meet the high demand quantities. They are focused on giving brands and labels the ability to leave zero trace and allow them to provide their consumers with traceable sustainable products. This came with the launch of the world’s first fully sustainable shoe, with it being “completely circular” you would be able to “grind the shoe up completely and put it back into the earth and it would have no impact on the environment”. They’re expanding to two new materials that will be used in upholstery and shoe applications. With material that does good and feels good, NFW is the only company in their industry that is currently in the market selling these products.
Although most of the success to-date has been in the realm of business to business sales, NFW is looking to expand to government contracting in the future. NFW has always been a Peoria-based company and has had a long history with Bradley University and the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship. With some of their employees having worked at the University, one of which includes Dr. Haverhals, who is a Research Professor and faculty member in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, and has served the chemistry department in many ways. The Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has helped NFW immensely through many difficulties in navigating situations when starting the business. The Illinois SBDC International Trade Center (ITC) has assisted NFW with categorizing materials for exporting in addition to the Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) assisting with our endeavors to launch into government contracting. Keli Krueger-Huhra has been a tremendous help in navigating the process of government protocols. She was able to assist in clarifying information, finding the government demand for eco-friendly fabrics, and being able to have plenty of helpful resources available for them.