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.
Mitch is a former radio journalist, news director and owner of a tree service. He has witnessed Whole Trees Structures develop from the beginning as an admirer and joined the crew in 2019 to help eagerly and energetically spread the sustainable vision of using un-milled timber as a key structural component in current and future building practices. He has a degree in history and is currently pursuing an MBA. Mitch spends his free time adoring his wife, building stuff, developing his step back three-pointer, fixing his motorcycle, protecting his poodles from extreme weather events and assessing the actual value of a situated ethos.
After completing a university work placement with WholeTrees in 2014, Michaela has returned to the team to manage WT’s research grants. She graduated from Metropolia UAS in Helsinki, Finland with her BSc in Civil Engineering focused on Sustainable Building Engineering. Her thesis on the potentiality of building-integrated photovoltaic energy for southern Finland received a Nordic GBC award for innovation. With her roots in natural building, Michaela hopes to continue the advancement of renewable structural design through research and development. She is an avid backwoods explorer, sauna advocate and team trivia connoisseur.
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.
Autumn joined WholeTrees in 2018, bringing with her a background in Interior Design and Remodel Project Management. She earned her BFA in 2004 from Converse College, in SC and clings to her love of the mountains and the arts. She travels the world drawing inspiration from many destinations and is excited to combine all these loves and experiences, as a part of the WholeTrees family. When not drafting or organizing details, she can be found biking around town, sweating it out at Barre class, or hanging with her hound dog, “Bo”.
Kyle joined the WholeTrees team in 2018. His focus involves sales, marketing, and everything digital. He started in videography, which opened the door to a career in all-things-tech. As an emerging professional he is constantly engaging in research and learning new trends to stay on the cutting edge of a quickly changing industry. When he isn’t Laser Scanning trees you can find Kyle on his motorcycle, biking or working on his Tiny House.
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.
Jesse joined the Whole Trees team in October 2016. He grew up in Muscoda where Whole Trees operates one of their kilns. His main focus is on supervising his team who processes whole trees for the company to implement in their many projects throughout the United States. Jesse‘s employment background includes apprentice toolmaker and custom woodworking. On his time away from his awesome job he can be found spending time with his four children and tinkering with Radio Control cars.
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.
Beauregard “Bo” Henry III
Bo comes to WholeTrees with 2 years of tree sniffing and couch snuggling under his belt. He brings casualness, smiles and nose nuzzles to all of his projects. When not assisting with left over lunches or project management meetings, Bo can be found bounding the hills of his favorite park or playing keep away with all his dog buddies.
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.