Skip to main content

Purdue alumnus launches startup for genetically improved hardwood sales

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN -- Landowners who are interested in planting trees that could produce veneer wood could benefit from a startup launched by an alumnus of Purdue's College of Agriculture.

Aaron Forgey, who earned his degree in forestry and natural resources in 2014, is the owner of Legacy Hardwoods LLC. The company is selling trees, including black walnut and black cherry, that have been scientifically proven to have a better chance to become veneer wood than saw logs.

"Veneer trees can be difficult to find in the wild, with perhaps one tree every 10 acres, which makes them so valuable," he said. "The trees that Legacy Hardwoods is producing and selling are good for aesthetics. On average they grow straighter than trees in the wild. They have fewer branches, which means fewer knots, and the branches that do grow should grow straight out to allow for a cleaner pruning cut."

Along with producing and selling trees, Forgey consults landowners to ensure they take the proper steps to maximize their investment.

"I'm not selling a commodity; I'm trying to educate as well as promote. I want people to know what it means to plant and cultivate one of these trees, that they shouldn't be expecting a miracle tree in 20 years," he said.

"Sometimes trees are planted on marginal farm ground that might be too hilly or rocky for crops. That's a good idea for land conservation, and everyday trees might rebuild the soil after a long amount of time. But if they are planting trees with improved genetics and looking for a return on investment, it won't happen. To get good, quality hardwood trees, they must be planted in good, quality ground. I want to be certain landowners know that the genetics are only as good as the ground they're put on."

Legacy Hardwoods has licensed the hardwood trees through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization. More than 20 startups based on Purdue intellectual property were launched in the 2015 fiscal year. A video about Legacy Hardwoods is available at

Forgey said Legacy Hardwoods is looking to increase seed production in the future.

"Clients who want to order trees through Legacy Hardwoods should consider pre-ordering to reserve their selections," he said. "The availability of trees is based on seed production, and currently there is a limited supply, although we are planning for future expansion. We also plan to have grafted clones available for pre-order in 2016 as well."

For information on other Purdue intellectual property ready for licensing and commercialization, visit For more information about available leadership positions, investing in a Purdue startup or licensing a Purdue innovation, visit