Can U.S.-made Wood Insulation Go Mainstream?

Imported European wood insulation has been available for years, but high costs, limited availability, and code challenges have kept it from going mainstream. U.S.-made TimberHP is out to change that.

by Brent Ehrlich

GO Lab, manufacturer of TimberHP wood insulation, is providing a new insulation to the U.S. market—while bolstering rural Maine’s economy at the same time. The closing of Madison, Maine’s paper mill resulted in the loss of more than 200 good-paying jobs and seemingly doomed the facility and the rural community to a bleak future. The paper mill was one of dozens in Maine shuttered in the last 20 years, and these closings hurt more than the paper industry. They also hurt the numerous lumber mills that sell wood chip byproducts used in paper production.

GO Lab has converted the Madison paper mill into a factory that will produce TimberHP (named for high-performance, healthy planet, and healthy people) above-grade wood insulation starting in late 2022 and ramping up in 2023. Wood insulation has a number of potential environmental and performance advantages over competing materials, and a U.S.-made product has the potential to keep costs and embodied carbon down while increasing availability in North America.

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Meet the team behind the product.
TimberHP Team in Focus—Jessica Vigneault and Alex Donnelley

All of the teams that make up TimberHP have critical roles to play to ensure a successful market launch. Two that are especially important—as manufacturing begins this spring—are operations and inside sales and technical support. We’re excited to tell you about two recent additions to these teams that give us great confidence that these key areas will be well attended to. 

Jessica Vigneault, TimberHP’s operations manager, brings over a decade of experience in the paper industry to her role with the company. Most recently, Vigneault spent five years working on the Number Two Paper Machine at Sappi Somerset in Skowhegan. She also worked in pulping and bleaching operations inside the mill. Vigneault learned about the opportunity with TimberHP last fall. 

“This was literally the timing of the universe. Somebody stopped me on the road in their truck and said, ‘Hey Jess, what do you think of this opportunity?'” said Vigneault, who the knew the individual, a TimberHP team member, through papermaking circles. 

As operations manager, Vigneault oversees the entire manufacturing process from the arrival of chips in the woodyard to the final packaging and shipping of TimberHP’s products.

“One of the skillsets I have that I enjoy a lot is teaching adults and I’m going to get the chance here to bring on a whole crew of production workers and operators. My passion about this is bringing the people in and teaching them how to do this and make this innovative product.”

Vigneault studied chemical engineering at the University of Maine at Orono and lives in Madison with her husband Luke. 

TimberHP was fortunate to find a Madison resident to fill another key role with the recent addition of Alex Donnelley as the company’s inside sales and technical support specialist. Donnelly, who studied sustainable building and design at Kennebec Valley Community College, had been working as a supervisor at T-Mobile, when he saw a listing for the TimberHP position online. He’d previously done some timber framing and had worked with wood fiber insulation board manufactured in Europe. In his role, Donnelley is responsible for handling general inquiries from customers by e-mail and phone, processing sales orders and helping manage relationships with TimberHP customers. 

“We have the opportunity, in my mind, to upend the current insulation market and be able to actually deliver a product that is better for the planet, better for the people that are using it, easy to work with and safe,” said Donnelly. “Our potential customers are extremely excited to be able to get their hands on the product and learn more about it.”

When he isn’t working, Donnelley, a California native, enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, enjoying the beautiful outdoors in his adopted home state.