Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: High on Hemp

In 1995, a handful of entrepreneurs attempted to light up the industry.

BY HBSDealer Staff

If you think the marijuana movement is a relatively recent consideration in the operation of building supply businesses, think again.

The April 17, 1995 issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, reported “Investors high on hemp’s potential for building.”

With a Eugene, Ore. dateline, the article explains:

“Three men here believe they have seen the future of building materials, and it is hemp.

“That’s right, hemp, the very plant from which marijuana is derived. But to Oregon lumberyard owners William Conde and Dave Seber, and their partner, attorney Barry Davis, hemp isn’t something to smoke. It’s the raw material whose long, strong fibers will revolutionize the buying products industry.

“Their three-year-old research and development company, C&S Specialty Builder’s Supply, is at work in Canada creating fiberboard of hemp.”

It was illegal to grow hemp in the U.S. at the time. Another challenge was the cost of the material. But the entrepreneurs believed in the benefits. “We have lab prototypes of medium-density fiberboard made out of hemp that meet or exceed [the strength of] wood in every category,” said Dave Seber.

C&S Specialty Builder’s Supply and the hemp movement failed to revolutionize the building products industry, but neither has it given up. It lives on as Eugene, Ore.-based Fibre Alternatives, providing “industrial hemp composite and energy applications.” Seber is Fibre Alternatives’ CEO.

Today, voices in the industry suggest that we haven’t heard the last of hemp as a building material. Tell us what you think at [email protected].

HBSDealer’s Throwback Thursday is sponsored by Schaffer Associates, a national management consulting firm specializing in executive search and organizational strategies for the hardware, home improvement, building materials, and consumer products industries. As the premier management consulting firm serving the industry, we help build organizations and leadership teams that foster corporate growth and success well into the future. Contact


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