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Updated: January 29, 2024

FAME approves financing for TimberHP, American Unagi

aerial of buildings and trees Courtesy / TimberHP TimberHP was approved for $1 million across two loans to buy equipment needed to complete its second and third production lines of high-performance wood-fiber insulation.

Two startups with businesses unlike any others in the U.S. have received new funding approvals from the Finance Authority of Maine.

At its monthly meeting on Jan. 18, FAME approved a $500,000 direct loan to GO Lab Inc., doing business as TimberHP, a maker of wood-fiber insulation in Madison.

FAME also approved a renewal of commercial loan insurance on a $2.2 million line of credit from Gorham Savings Bank for American Unagi, an eel cultivator in Waldoboro. 


After a $125 million mill retrofit that allowed TimberHP to launch its first line of high-performance wood-fiber insulation, the company was approved for an additional $1 million across two loans to buy equipment fo its second and third production lines.

TimberHP completed the retrofit of a defunct paper mill in the Somerset County town of Madison last year and began production of its loose fill wood-fiber insulation. 

FAME approved the $500,000 loan to GO Lab to support its purchase of explosion suppression equipment needed on the second and third production lines for its board and batten insulation products. 

wood blocks and fluff
Courtesy / TimberHP
TimberHP launched its loose-fill wood-fiber insulation last year and plans to produce boards and battens.

The Maine Rural Development Authority also recently approved a $500,000 loan to assist with the same project.

“TimberHP plans to complete our production line for our board insulation product in Q2 of 2024, which will complete TimberHP’s suite of building products offered in Madison,” said Joshua Henry, GO Lab’s president.

TimberHP was founded by Henry and the company vice president, Matthew O’Malia.

FAME’s actions are expected to help to create and retain approximately 114 jobs in Somerset County.

TimberHP manufactures high-performing wood-fiber insulation made with renewable resources. The company's products are said to be resistant to moisture liabilities, mold and fire, while reducing heating and cooling loads. Wood-fiber insulation is cost-competitive and has been manufactured and used in Europe for decades, according to a news release.

“Finding new uses for wood fiber, including innovative building materials, has the potential of revitalizing the forest products industry in Maine, which we fully support,” said Carlos Mello, FAME’s CEO.

All three TimberHP insulations — called TimberFill, TimberBatt and TimberBoard — are byproducts of Maine’s existing forestry sector. They're made from softwood chips — the residuals from milling lumber — and from low-value pulpwood, removed from stands of timber throughout the state to improve forest health.

FAME previously approved up to $85 million in conduit bond financing for GO Lab; approximately $860,000 in seed capital tax credit financing; and a FAME direct loan totaling $1.2 million, with FAME as lead lender at $500,000. Other partners in that loan were Coastal Enterprises Inc. at $250,000, and Maine Technology Institute at $200,000. Eastern Maine Development Corp. also approved a $250,000 loan.

Additional financing for the purchase and refurbishment of the Madison mill and to purchase production equipment included Maine Rural Development Authority, $1 million; town of Madison, a $400,000 loan, which includes a Community Development Block Grant Program contribution through the Department of Economic and Community Development of $300,000, which will be used for engineering costs. 

The Somerset Economic Development Corp. authorized a $300,000 loan. The Maine Venture Fund recently invested $3.5 million in the company as part of the Grow Maine program funded through federal State Small Business Credit Initiative funds.

American Unagi

person in tweed blazer smiling
Sara Rademaker, president of American Unagi

American Unagi, led by Sara Rademaker, in 2022 completed construction of a $10 million, 27,000-square-foot facility at the Waldoboro Business Park. The company purchases locally harvested glass eels and grows them to market size for the domestic seafood market. 

In 2019, FAME approved a FAME direct loan of $1 million for the company, as well as 50% pro rata commercial loan insurance on the Gorham Savings Bank line of credit for the purchase and construction of a recirculating aquaculture system. 

About 20 jobs are expected to be created or retained in Lincoln County by FAME’s financing.

RuralWorks investments

TimberHP and American Unagi have been garnering investment of late. Each recently received investments from RuralWorks Partners LLC, an impact investment firm with offices in Vermont and Minnesota.

RuralWorks invested $3 million into TimberHP and $1.5 million into American Unagi, Louisa Schibli, RuralWorks’ chief engagement officer, told Mainebiz.

Both investments are for use as growth capital.

TimberHP’s Henry said the investment “not only signifies a vote of confidence in our business but also highlights our shared values of investing in a diverse and empowered workforce, rural economic development and manufacturing products that directly combat climate change and encourage sustainable forest stewardship.”

RuralWorks’ mission includes promoting economic growth in rural communities.

“We are excited to support TimberHP and to help launch a range of insulation products that are carbon negative and represent a unique solution in the marketplace,” said Skip Wyer, chief investment officer of RuralWorks.

“These are products that, while new to the United States, have been successfully manufactured and used in Europe for several decades. We think the team at TimberHP has the potential to do great things for investors, the climate and the rural community in which it is located.”

At full production, TimberHP has said it will employ over 140 people, generate an estimated $170 million of revenue and reduce global carbon emissions by roughly 5 million metric tons per year, or the equivalent of removing 1 million cars off the road.


FAME’s direct loan program provides access to operating capital for startups and existing businesses for most business purposes. Loans up to $1 million may be available if substantial public benefit is demonstrated and sufficient funds are available. 

FAME’s commercial loan insurance program insures a portion of a loan to a business made by a participating financial institution or investment firm. For a business, it might mean the difference between obtaining a loan or never getting the opportunity to start a business.

The Finance Authority of Maine is a quasi-independent state agency.

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