Tam Tekle: Inventor Of The Use Of Microwaves In Composite Manufacturing Keeps Reinventing Industries
Updated: Mar 26, 2022
Series: Business leaders whose influence change entire industries.
Tamrat Tekle – President & CEO, Natural Fibre Technologies (NFT)
A Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, with a Bsc. (Honors) in Wood Science from the University of North Wales, Tam Tekle's contribution to manufacturing, forestry and commercial conservation has been unmatched in Canada and abroad. Tam is the leading expert on the application of microwave technology to biofibre manufacturing, having been the inventor of the concept to use microwaves in commercial composite manufacturing. At the time, Tam was the Technical Director of Sunpine Forest Products in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, now owned by West Fraser. There are now seven such LVL operations manufacturing operations in the world, ranging in size from $ 30 million to $ 200 million USD in capital expenditure. Tam not only invented the technology and the use, but has been a critical contributor to the development of these global operations as an advisor and consultant.
Earlier in his career, Tam led the establishment of the Wood Utilization Research Center in Ethiopia. He was the first person to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of using laser technology for wooden furniture manufacture and millwork in Canada.
Tam has a rare and exceptional background in composite research and development. He has over 30 years of experience in the production of composite panel products such as OSB, laminated veneer lumber, plywood, particleboard, MDF, and strawboard. He also has extensive expertise in understanding how to maximize the utilization of fibre resources, developing new products, and constructing and operationalizing plant facilities. In 1998 Tam founded TTS as a fibre products development and testing operation. The company has serviced such industry leaders such as Weldwood, Canfor, West Fraser Timber, and Tolko in Canada, and international clients include International Paper (US), Modern Laminated Lumber (Russia) and Nelson Pine Industries (NZ). Among other awards, Tam was the 2004 recipient of the Service Excellence Award from the Forest Industries Suppliers Association (FISLA).
TTS has evolved from an applied R&D facility into a BioComposites Incubator to facilitate the commercialization of five families of product technologies. A commercial spin-off (Biocomposites Group, Drayton Valley, Alberta) for one of these technologies (Engineered Fibre Mat), was completed in 2013. This spin-off was capitalized at $15 Million CND. For the last several years, Tam has been CEO of Natural Fibre Technologies, which is set to change an entire global industry, no different than any of Tam's previous business efforts and technological concepts that have revolutionized and changed the way entire industries operate today.
When Tam isn't inventing new technologies, running innovative businesses, and advising on a range of strategic and technological business subjects, he gives his time as a member of provincial and national biofibre Advisory Boards. Tam is a sitting member on the committee for the National Biomass Quality Network.
Tam's leadership in biomaterial research and development continues to set new industry standards that others can only follow. As he invents new ways and new capabilities for industry, it is always along the path he set for himself in his student days: to turn what we might see as waste into useable commercial and everyday products that improve the way we do things and the way we live on a planet with finite resources.