Luke Haverhals, Ph.D.

Founder & CEO

Luke’s professional mission is to collaborate with and empower material scientists, manufacturing workers and engineers, investors, change-makers, creators, and brands around the world to create a fully circular, holistically sustainable, low-carbon material economy from the ground up.  

Luke earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Iowa before going on to explore all-natural alternatives to petroleum-derived synthetic plastics as an Assistant Research Professor at the US Naval Academy. His vision to develop bioneutral, high-performance materials from renewable natural nutrient inputs has become the foundation for NFW’s ecosystem of patented, paradigm-shifting material technologies. Luke has given dozens of invited international presentations on the intersection of materials science with fashion, footwear and other related trillion-dollar consumer industries. 

In an industry awash with incremental solutions, Luke is leading NFW to drive a moonshot systems-level shift away from petroleum-derived products and toxic chemistries. Luke was named IPOEF Inventor of the Year in 2022. Luke is an Unreasonable Group Fellow, Forbes Council Member, and World Economic Forum (WEF) Technology Pioneer, and graduate of The Circulars Accelerator, Fashion for Good Scaling Programme, and the Nation Science Foundation I-Corps Program. 


Steve Zika

President

 

Steve brings decades of leadership experience from across cutting-edge tech companies and social impact ventures to NFW. As both a veteran founder and seasoned C-suite corporate exec, Steve applies his operational expertise and pragmatism to scale NFW’s material platforms growth and steward long-term profitability.  

A Peoria native, Steve returned to his hometown with his family several years ago after a 16-year career at the multinational semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices, where he served as director of product management and chief of staff to the president.  

Having spent time in both Silicon Valley and Austin, Texas, Steve has helped foster Illinois’ own blossoming startup ecosystem as director of Startup Peoria and co-founder of an investment firm that sparks the creation and growth of sustainable, mission-driven businesses.  

Steve earned a BS and MS at Stanford University where he studied Material Science and Engineering. He joined the NFW leadership team in 2016 to put his unique blend of material science-savvy, social entrepreneurship, and corporate management to work to transform lives in Peoria and all over the world. 

Steve Zika
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Rob Salter

CFO

 

Rob Salter is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at NFW. As CFO, Rob will lead NFW’s finance operations and financial activities, including accounting and controllership, financial planning and analysis, forecasting and investor relations. Rob has more than 24 years of finance, merchandising, and operations experience in vertically integrated multi-channel companies.    

After graduating from Ohio University with a dual major in Business Economics and Business Management, Rob started his career at Cheryl’s Cookies. When Cheryl’s was purchased by 1-800-Flowers.com, the retail giant that revolutionized the floral industry, Rob took on additional leadership positions, culminating in financial and Executive Leadership Team responsibility for revenue across four companies. Prior to joining NFW, Rob served as Senior Vice President of Finance for the Midwest Food Brands segment.  

Rob currently resides in the high energy Chicago West Loop area, a change of pace from his rural Ohio roots. He enjoys travelling the world and broadening his perspective of various cultures.   

Aaron Amstutz 

CTO

Aaron Amstutz is a passionate material scientist and serial innovator redefining circular design. As NFW’s chief technology officer, his favorite days are spent in the lab alongside his team—sharing their excitement, getting dirty, and pursuing the next breakthrough. With nearly two decades at Caterpillar designing new materials and exploring patents, he brings a wealth of practical experience and knowledge to NFW’s technical team.  

Named IPOEF Inventor of the Year, Aaron specializes in tailoring the morphology of polymeric materials through novel formulations and groundbreaking processing methods. Amstutz leads R&D on MIRUM® and the rest of NFW’s breakthrough material platforms. With a deep belief in the importance of high-performance, bio-neutral materials, he is excellent at imagining categorically new approaches to material science and encouraging those around him to think outside the box. 

As a triathlete in his spare time, he tests NFW’s performance textiles firsthand. Aaron is married and has four adult children. His infectious enthusiasm for NFW’s material breakthroughs has also brought one of his sons, a daughter, a son-in-law, and a nephew to NFW.

Aaron
Tom Waggoner

Tom Waggoner 

COO

 

Tom brings decades of leadership experience and boundless energy to the team members who support and produce NFW’s MIRUM® and CLARUS® materials daily. He is a change catalyst who has played pivotal roles in cultural transformation for other organizations, managing P&Ls exceeding $100 million and teams of 4 to 600 in multiple industries. Tom has 20 years of experience starting and operating business units for Mercedes-Benz US International, BMW, and Mitsubishi Motors Manufacturing America. 

During his tenure as Director of Purchasing and Logistics at Mercedes-Benz, he experienced the gap in the market firsthand: a sustainable and high-performance material for automotive interiors simply did not exist. He joined NFW ten years later when he saw a c-pillar wrapped in MIRUM® and realized that NFW had created the solution.  

An entrepreneur at heart, Tom has started and owned multiple small businesses, has two children who are both small business owners, and lives in Peoria, Illinois, with his wife of over 30 years.

Oihana Elizalde

Vice President and General Manager

 

Oihana Elizalde is the Vice President at NFW and General Manager of the MIRUM® Business Unit. Her deep expertise in material science and exceptional business acumen allows Oihana to span from research and development of new products on an individual scale to global commercialization.

With a special talent for problem solving through collaboration, Oihana has effectively developed synergy across marketing, sales, and R&D teams around the world. This global approach helps her meet even the most sophisticated of client needs effectively and efficiently.

As a Ph.D. in Polymer Chemistry, Oihana’s work has been cited in multiple books and over 20 scientific papers. She also speaks four languages, including German and Spanish.

Oihana Elizalde
Greg Stillman

Greg Stillman

General Manager

 

Greg Stillman’s cross-industry career has been driven by a dedication to environmental stewardship. Having worked as both researcher and investor, Greg is the rare expert that bridges science, commercialization, and sustainability. 

Prior to his work as Venture Investor at Fashion for Good, Greg spent five years as a Technology Development Manager at the Department of Energy, helping to develop new technologies for the geothermal industry under the Obama administration. Greg is an alumni of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, where he also completed a joint M.S. in Environmental Engineering.

As General Manager of the CLARUS Business Unit at Natural Fiber Welding, Stillman is responsible for the ultimate commercial success of the CLARUS® fiber welding technology. He also supports the ongoing research and development phases of the technology to ensure the company is addressing market needs while meeting core commercialization goals. In every instance, Greg makes magic happen for customers everywhere.

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Anthony Traymore

General Counsel

 

Anthony Traymore is the General Counsel and Secretary of NFW.  An experienced corporate, intellectual property and transactional attorney, Anthony has led a wide range of key strategic global initiatives including NFW’s Series B round, other investment vehicles, joint ventures, patent and trademark portfolio building, and enterprise level digital and IT transformation. 

Anthony discovered NFW when he was head of legal for Ralph Lauren’s digital and ecommerce businesses and strategic business development, information technology, and product development departments. When he branched out on his own, NFW reached out and brought him in house.

Anthony and his family live just outside New York City in Pleasantville, NY.  Anthony is a dedicated trail runner and comes up with some of his best solutions while racking up miles in the woods.  He keeps his family happy by serving up a variety of delicious meals from the kitchen.  Anthony also enjoys coaching his son’s basketball team and doing art with his daughter.

Anthony Traymore
Jennifer Kaminski

Jennifer Kaminski

Executive Creative Director

 

Jennifer is an award-winning creative director and multidisciplinary design strategist renowned for building unique, high-end, and lasting brands. As Creative Director for NFW, she aims to fuse the elegance associated with luxury and the magnificence of our planet and its resources to demonstrate the beauty of conservation. 

As a story-teller, Jennifer helps identify and build the essence of a brand, and responsibly scale it across mediums and marketing channels. The impressive combination of her design eye and entrepreneurial experience will empower NFW to maximize unrealized growth opportunities in this future-focused world without compromising on its core tenet of environmental sustainability. 

With expertise in luxury branding and marketing across industries, Jennifer has helped establish and expand the creative identity, corporate website presence and advertising of numerous brands including: Burberry, Esteé Lauder, GE, GLG, Jaguar, J&J, Mercedes-Benz, Park Hotels & Resorts, Paul & Shark, Revlon, and SnapChat.