Founding Stories: Greg Wilson of Hempwood Aims to Pioneer a Greener Building Industry

As conventional construction materials put pressure on our environment, the demand for sustainable alternatives has reached a critical juncture. Enter Greg Wilson, the visionary mind behind HempWood, a company addressing long standing challenges in the construction industry. 

Faced with the environmental impact and health concerns associated with traditional wood alternatives, Greg embarked on a mission to transform the way we build. Growing up in the construction world and fueled by a passion for sustainability, he recognized the need for a healthier and eco-friendly substitute. This realization led to the birth of HempWood, a company at the forefront of innovation in building materials. 

Greg's journey, rooted in a commitment to environmental responsibility, saw him overcoming challenges, from developing a soy-based glue to harnessing waste hemp for energy, resulting in a carbon-negative, no-waste product. 

We asked Greg some questions about his journey towards creating a future where construction materials are not just functional but also contribute to a healthier planet.

How did you become interested in hemp as a wood substitute?

GW: Growing up in the building industry, I was helping frame houses and install flooring before I could drive. My passion is the outdoors, so my path led me toward finding a way to build houses more sustainably. I studied in China and did an internship in a bamboo flooring factory, leading me to stay on for R&D and engineering for 14 years. Once hemp was legalized in the U.S., I filed some patents to make HempWood and moved back to the USA, landing in Murray, Kentucky, working with Murray State University.

What inspired you to solve a problem and co-found a company?

GW: During my days in the bamboo factories, I developed a respiratory condition from working with formaldehyde in the glue, so I decided to find an alternative, landing on Soy proteins. With research assistance funded by The Kentucky Soybean Board and the United Soybean Board, Dr. Miller at Murray State University was able to produce a healthy soy-based glue to bond together our HempWood. We then developed a way to use our waste hemp as our energy in the factory creating a carbon negative, no waste product.

We see a movement towards healthier materials in your home, leading to better indoor air quality, resulting in higher cognitive ability and clearer thinking.

Tell us about your team; Who's on it, and how did you meet?

GW: Our entire management team and board are all owners of HempWood. My wife Bing and I met in China about 10 years ago and are co-founders. Our management team of Tommy, Matt, and Austin all started as interns from the MSU Agri School and are now in charge of production. Our board of directors come from different backgrounds with expertise in the areas our company needs.

Where do you see the building materials industry headed in the future?

GW: Increased transparency in the building materials industry is leading to healthier, more sustainable products that are locally made. We see a movement towards healthier materials in your home, leading to better indoor air quality, resulting in higher cognitive ability and clearer thinking.

What does success look like to you at Hempwood in the short term and the long term?

GW: Short term success for HempWood looks like happy customers, a growing team, and 2024 in the black. In the long term, it looks like a societal shift towards locally grown, made, and installed HempWood products.

Find out more about Hempwood at Are you a startup based in or looking to relocate to Kentucky? Keyhorse’s current quarterly investment cycle is open! Apply now.

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