Who We Are and Why
At WholeTrees we believe in the regenerative potential of structural round timber harvested from well-managed forests and supplied to construction job sites via regional forestry and fabrication networks. The built environment needs low embodied carbon/carbon sequestering materials, and our planet needs climate-smart forestry. Using the inherent strength of structural round timber and millions of years of organic structural engineering, we provide beautiful, affordable, and durable biophilic structural systems which also restore forests.
WholeTrees Structures was founded in 2007 on an off-grid forest farm in Southwest Wisconsin. Using solar panels and a generator, the founding team brought CAD and BIM to structural round timber, and fabricated first-of-their kind structural systems for projects nationwide. The company successfully paired the architectural and strategic accomplishments of its founders with decades of data from the USDA Forest Products Laboratory (Madison, WI) to demonstrate modern applications for structural round timber in commercial settings.
WholeTrees is now headquartered in Madison, WI, has a Seattle, WA division to manage west coast sales, and purchases timber thinnings from trusted forestry operations in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest and New England. We continue to inspire new construction markets toward the innate strength and beauty of structural round timber as the original mass timber. We also overlay technology such as 3D scanning and nondestructive evaluation to the analysis, inventory and sales of this abundant bi-product of well-managed forests.
Mission & Vision
WholeTrees® builds prosperous relationships with forests and communities
Be the guiding brand in restorative commercial construction, a regenerative inspiration for the forest products industry and leading pioneers of woodland stewardship.
Do this in the following ways:
- Translate for the building industry the brilliant structural capacity of unmilled trees via products, processes, technology and always unprecedented project management.
- Sell to emerging commercial markets for cull-trees from well-managed forests, inspire the forest products industry to expand these markets and own the production processes and technologies to scale.
Amelia Swan Baxter
Amelia Baxter believes that the 21st century built environment is filled with opportunities for trees. Baxter co-founded WholeTrees in 2007 to develop and sell products and technologies that would scale the use of waste-trees in commercial construction, increasing forest revenues, and offering green construction markets a new material for the 21st century. Amelia has led project teams in over $2M in USDA research grants working toward the commercialization of the tree’s natural engineering. By raising equity investment for her company, attracting national executive talent, and pinpointing nascent urban markets for trees as structure, Baxter has participated in the growth of a truly conscious and regenerative company.
She has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, speaks Spanish, and has worked internationally with thought leaders in the Responsible Business movement. When left to her own fancies, she can be found gardening, biking, and mushroom hunting.
Derek Mayhew joined Roald Gundersen Design in 2004 and has been with Whole Trees since its inception. He heads up operations and manufacturing for Whole Trees, as well as working closely with Gundersen in the management of the Driftless Farm forest land. He believes that this job is on the cutting edge of real meaningful changes in the way we manage and cohabitate with Earth’s forests. Derek finds that his work with trees has a way of seeping into all aspects of his life, but he also spends his time in parenting his six year old son and planning the design of his future brewery on the moon.
Paul is a proud UW-Platteville graduate where he received his degree in Civil Engineering with a structural emphasis. He worked as a consulting engineer for 5+ years before spending the next 20+ years in a multitude of roles in the commercial focused Engineered Wood Products manufacturing industry, most recently in the Cross Laminated Timber (CLT)/Mass Timber space.
Paul has witnessed firsthand the evolution and renaissance of structural wood products used in commercial construction. The skeptics are becoming proponents and the oft misunderstood and under-utilized wood products are rightly becoming the “cool kids” of commercial construction, which is exciting to him…He truly can’t wait to see what the future brings!
Robert joined WholeTrees in March 2008 as an entry-level carpenter and has grown into a lead foreman and our go-to artisan craftsman with gusto. His attention to detail and ability to execute detailed projects in scales as small as serpentine wood benches to as large as entire commercial structures remains a huge asset to WholeTrees’ functionality. Rob has studied and built bamboo structures in Hawaii, bringing knowledge of re-purposing invasive wood species into viable round timber structural components. Elusive Works is Robert’s thriving art studio where he crafts wood-turned bowls and large-scale murals.
Richard grew up in Akron, Ohio where he day dreamed about being in the world of Architecture. In part, due to his military service he was able to attend and graduate from the University at Buffalo, school of Architecture.
His work experience has given him the chance to design and manage projects on a varying scale. His digital design experience has been used in multiple material and equipment based projects. Richard has a passion for solution based design, his aim is to work within the design community and present Whole Trees SRT products as a valuable asset and tool for projects.
Richard is married to Karen, and they have four boys at home, 11, 10 and 7 year old twins. In addition to the boys, their family has welcomed a Saint Benard puppy to the mix. When not actively working in the office, Richard can be found in his shop working on furniture, home repair and other projects. Richard is an avid Ohio State Buckeyes and Cleveland Browns fan!
Chelsea is a Florida native with a passion for adventure. Since 2017, Chelsea has enjoyed Midwestern Hospitality, cheese curds, the beauty of the Northwoods and introducing “ope” to her vocabulary. She is a creative problem solver who comes to WholeTrees with a background in customer service, design, and administrative support.
Joining the WholeTrees family is a dream come true for Chelsea. Working alongside a team led by incredible women, focusing on innovation, sustainability and growing within new industries is where she is meant to be. When Chelsea is not working hard for the money, she enjoys volunteering, traveling, live music, camping with her two dogs, being around large bodies of water and compulsively trying new crafting trends she sees on the internet.
Raised in the rural outskirts of Boston, MA, Touson developed a passion for architecture and building at an early age and worked his high school summers immersed in landscape construction. In the early 90’s he studied Architecture at Syracuse University and Landscape Architecture at UMass, Amherst before landing in far Northern California for a 2 yr internship focused on sustainable design with an ecological architect.
After travelling in Hawaii, Belgium and New Zealand and meeting his wife (of now 27 yrs), Touson and Gitte settled in Crestone, CO, started a family, designed and built their adobe/ mass timber home with breathtaking views of the Sangre De Cristo mountains and San Luis Valley. Touson launched his custom home design practice in 1998 and has had extensive experience designing with natural & alternative materials, including rammed earth, strawbale, ICF’s, SIP’s, AAC and Mass Timber.
He’s excited now to be working with WholeTrees to connect with the larger world of architecture and to help foster biophilic design in commercial construction. His family of 7 have been living in the small town of Mt Shasta, CA since 2004 where, when not engaged in the studio, he enjoys hiking, mountain biking, skiing, gardening and enjoying deep conversations amongst friends.
Melissa Rodriguez, AIA
Melissa is a registered architect in the state of Wisconsin and is joining the WholeTrees team as an Architectural Project Manager.
Melissa grew up building things, as she repeatedly watched her father turn a pile of scrap wood into whatever he could dream up. She inherited his creativity and love of woodworking and spent the first decade of her career down on the Gulf Coast working as a custom cabinet maker and high-end interior finish carpenter. With a desire to be more, she applied to the Louisiana State University School of Architecture which led her down the path to becoming a licensed architect.
Melissa began her career in architecture in 2016 working at a local firm specializing in multi-family, hospitality, and mixed-use projects. She views her transition to WholeTrees as the beautiful culmination of her experience and the crazy twist of fate that brought her right back to her first love…working with wood.
Melissa lives in Middleton Wisconsin with her wife Sarah and 16 year old daughter Mia. In her free time she can be found snuggled up next to the IBC or any nerdy book about Building Science. She enjoys long-distance backpacking, road trips with her family and spending winters down on the Gulf Coast.
Sam joined WholeTrees as a designer and estimator in December 2020. He was raised on a farm in a small town in northern Minnesota and moved to Minneapolis to study Architecture and Norwegian. Professionally, he has worked in furniture fabrication, landscape and architectural design, and spent several years contributing to the historic preservation efforts at Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin. After a brief stint living and working in Chicago, he has returned to Madison with the hope that the future of architecture will look and feel more like our forests. Sam spends his free time playing guitar and writing music, napping with his pug, exploring the Wisconsin landscape, and making breakfast sandwiches. Sam is a proud first time Dad and recently welcomed the arrival of his first child.
Jeremy joined WholeTrees in January 2022 as an Architectural Sales Manager after relocating to Madison, Wisconsin. Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, he earned his Associate degrees in Business Administration and Architectural Technology before becoming a CAD draftsperson for 15 years. In 2011, Jeremy and family relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska gaining more experience in the construction industry as a project manager in steel fabrication, as an estimator in concrete and roofing, and as a field engineer with a general contractor. He has earned his bachelor’s and Master of Project Management degrees in 2020 and 2022. Jeremy is married to the love of his life, Stephanie. Together, they have one son at home – Gavin, and 2 dogs – Ender and Quigley. Jeremy has an adult son, Jackson, who lives in Kansas City, MO, and Stephanie also has an adult son, Brandon, who is married and lives in Austin, TX. In his spare time, Jeremy enjoys reading, gaming, paddleboarding, bicycling, and cooking.
Owen joined WholeTrees in August 2011 as an entry-level carpenter and quickly established himself as the critical conduit of communication and details.He has been a steady hand at the Giles Residence from before day one. Throughout his childhood, Owen grew up assisting his father in building multiple homes from the ground up. Working for WholeTrees, he finds timber framing and joinery his greatest areas of interest. After the many long days working on-site, Owen spends his free-time playing hockey in a men’s league and disc golf.
Moose and Lenny
When not protecting their comfortable resting places, camping or chasing ducks at Madison’s lakeshores, Moose and Lenny are Chief Security Officers and expert administrative assistants to our Executive Assistant, Chelsea.
Jason is the Market Development Manager for Port Blakely, a family-owned timber company based in Seattle, Washington. In 2021, WholeTrees and Port Blakely launched a joint marketing initiative, whereby Port Blakely brings over 150 years of experience in sustainable management of forest resources to meet WholeTrees unique product offerings and skilled sales team for a first-of-its kind direct sourcing effort for structural round timber and sawn heavy timber in the Pacific Northwest. Jason graduated with a BS in Forest Management from Oregon State University, and an MBA from the University of British Columbia. A forester at heart, he is excited to take part in this initiative that brings together a passion for sustainable forest management and an interest in developing a healthy built environment for the future. Jason and his wife, Gesine, live in Lake Oswego, Oregon with their two young children.
Tom Gorman, Ph.D., P.E.
Tom Gorman is the Lead Scientist for WholeTrees R+D Grant Program. He is a vital resource and collaborator for our team as a pioneering expert in small-diameter utilization research. Gorman has been a staple at the University of Idaho since 1987. Prior to his work at the University, Tom was a Research Engineer at the USDA Forest Products Laboratory. While working on his college degrees he spent most summers working for the US Forest Service in the Bob Marshall Wilderness outside of Augusta, Montana and on the Kenai Peninsula near Seward, Alaska. He is a licensed professional engineer in Idaho, Montana, and Washington and a member of the Forest Products Society, the Society of Wood Science and Technology, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). He has served as a consultant and expert witness in the area of wood products evaluation and testing.
Russell Miller-Johnson, P.E.
Russ has become the go-to engineer for WholeTrees projects with his profound understanding of timber and interest in sustainable engineering design. Miller-Johnson, P.E., Team Leader and Senior Engineer at Engineering Ventures, PC, has over 28 years of progressive experience in the integrated business practice of structural engineering design, management, and leadership. His focus is on advancing sustainable structural engineering practices at multiple levels. He is currently an active member of ASCE SEI’s Sustainability Committee. He has presented at Structures Congress’ on both sustainability issues and case studies. He has led the structural engineering effort for several LEED certified projects; as well as developing his offices’ LCA procedures, green specifications, and detailing approaches.
Amie Sullivan, SE
Amie is the lead consulting engineer for WholeTrees’ continued research to optimize truss designs. Her structural engineering expertise mixed with her acute sense of design and understanding of mass timber markets has made her a valuable asset to the WholeTrees R+D team. She leads her team at KPFF Consulting Engineers toward improved small-diameter round timber truss designs to cater to the breadth of the commercial construction market safely, sustainably and beautifully. Amie completed her engineering degree at University of Washington and has been working as a structural engineer in the Pacific Northwest for 15+ years.
Auri is a PhD researcher at the University of Bath’s BRE Center for Innovative Construction Materials, in the United Kingdom. Auri completed his Bachelor’s degree in Building Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2015, where his thesis explored low-impact modular construction systems using small-diameter round timber. Auri’s PhD research focuses on new computational tools to help architects and engineers design structures using round timber and reused steel elements. In his spare time, Auri enjoys kayaking, sailing, and playing American and Irish fiddle.
Luella is the founder and president of Fine Point Consulting. She supports WholeTrees’ growth with more than 15 years of financial and accounting management. She has extensive experience selecting, implementing, and customizing accounting software and systems. She has also assisted companies in raising venture capital, developed sophisticated budgeting and financial modeling tools, initiated and refinanced debt instruments, and performed due diligence for corporate acquisitions. Her professional experience spans a variety of industries including start-ups, professional service firms, energy, not-for-profit, biotechnology, and medical device companies.
Professional CEUs and Presentations
We are at a turning point in the world of construction. Sustainability, natural materials, regional sourcing, and carbon costs are increasingly important factors. Against this backdrop, small-diameter round timber from sustainably managed forests is a viable structural material for commercial construction.
Prerequisite Knowledge: A basic understanding of different structural systems and building types. A basic understanding of the regulatory systems in one's local jurisdiction such as what version of the IBC has been adopted.
HSW Justification: Studies increasingly provide measurable data for what most know intrinsically, people are happier and healthier when exposed to nature, natural materials, and natural systems. Using biophilic design patterns and sustainably sourced natural materials, architects, engineers, and other AEC professionals can create built environments that improve the physical health and mental well-being while also providing positive environmental benefits.
Learning Objective 1: Participants will be able to name structures, systems, and building types built using small-diameter round timber and identify where round timber can bring biophilic advantages as a structural or decorative material.
Learning Objective 2: Participants will be able to identify a benefit to forest ecosystems and regional economies from building with small-diameter round timber.
Learning Objective 3: Participants will be able to use the performance benefits a small-diameter round timber structural systems (including strength, carbon calculation, fire failure mode, and life cycle performance) in their projects to design hybrid systems with mixed materials.
Learning Objective 4: Participants will be able to cite advantages of building with small-diameter round timber based on research at the USDA Forest Products Lab.
Would you like to learn more about specifying WholeTrees into your projects for upcoming clients? We would be happy to provide a lunch and learn for your staff. Send us an email at [email protected] with your needs for an educational session in person or via webinar.