© 2023 Peoria Public Radio
A joint service of Bradley University and Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WCBU is undergoing major tech upgrades which could cause interruptions in our streams. Thank you for your patience.

$85M funding round a 'validation' of Natural Fiber Welding's efforts to expand market reach

A bundle of CLARUS, Natural Fiber Welding's all-natural textile product touted as an alternative to plastic-based synthetics.
Natural Fiber Welding
A bundle of CLARUS, Natural Fiber Welding's all-natural textile product touted as an alternative to plastic-based synthetics.

Closing an $85 million private funding round is "a very big deal" for Peoria-based Natural Fiber Welding.

That's the opinion of the natural material company's founder and CEO, Luke Haverhals. He said the money will allow NFW to scale production of its plastic-free products, and reach new markets.

"Because the markets that Natural Fiber Welding is engaging in are trillions of dollars big, it requires a substantial amount of capital to go do things at a global scale, in a way that's relevant," he said.

NFW produces Mirum, a plant-based synthetic leather; and Clarus, an all-natural textile product.

"It's a validation that lets us get started," Haverhals said.

He said the money helps in hiring the people needed to scale NFW's current technology, and install the equipment needed to create enough product to allow for winder distribution.

Haverhals said the capital also allows NFW to create a "circular materials platform," using natural materials to solve problems in a healthier way for the planet and life.

"There's good resolution on how your biochemistry works with that stuff. The same is not true of plastics that are synthetic that have only been around for a few decades, and they're they're filled with things that are known to be poisonous for you," he said.

Haverhals said the philosophy behind Natural Fiber Welding essentially sells itself to major companies like Ralph Lauren and BMW, both of which have invested heavily in NFW.

"We've got materials that perform with a production system that truly is circular, low impact, and does it in a way that's affordable, and affordable at global scale. So that's why people are coming," he said.

Natural Fiber Welding was founded in Peoria in 2015, and continues to expand in the River City. Haverhals said that's by intention.

"We're choosing to grow here, because we have brilliant people here. And there's a lot of infrastructure here. And you can get things done more cost-effectively here than you can in Silicon Valley," he said. "Then there's another thing that's amazing about where Peoria situated, which is (that) we're in the breadbasket of the world. Where do a lot of those plants that you might need to produce high quality, high performance things, where do they grow? All around us."

We depend on your support to keep telling stories like this one. You – together with donors across the NPR Network – create a more informed public. Fact by fact, story by story. Please take a moment to donate now and fund the local news our community needs. Your support truly makes a difference.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.