October 31 â A manufactured home start-up has chosen Kern County as the site of its latest expansion.
Plant Prefab Inc., based in Rialto, is touting itself as part of the solution to California’s housing crisis. Providing buyers with high-quality, eco-friendly homes, the company says it can meet housing market demands faster and more cheaply than traditional construction.
The company will take advantage of an Advance Kern tax incentive to launch the new plant which could employ up to 440 people per year.
âAt the moment, it’s difficult to build buildings on time,â Plant Prefab vice president Josh Tech told the supervisory board on Tuesday. âWith our build system, we can actually do things a lot better, with better quality than you can do on site. “
Traditional house building involves putting all the parts of a house together on site, while prefab building involves building the components of a house in a factory to ship to the site for assembly.
PPI recently announced an investment of $ 30 million, notably from the Amazon Alexa Fund. The company has two factories, in Rialto and Ontario, but the Kern County site is expected to be the largest to date.
âWe are building our product on a small scale at these two factories at the moment,â Tech said. “This new plant will be state of the art, with automation, high quality material handling, those kinds of things that we can scale up to a factor of 20 times what we are doing now.”
Kern is offering a tax refund worth up to $ 6.6 million over 30 years – or $ 15,000 per full-time job – to bring the business to the county. Plant Prefab must hire at least 50 full-time workers by June 30, 2023 to fulfill the agreement, and plans to hire 100 to 150 in the first year of operation.
Advance Kern is the county’s primary method of attracting new businesses and helping others grow. The relatively new incentive has already brought Amazon and Loreal Paris to Kern. As the county tries to diversify the local economy, it sees the Plant Prefab deal as a win-win deal that is good for county workers and good for local investment.
âThis is a deal that brings here a company that is an award-winning company, that has a very good track record of how they compensate and manage their workforce,â said Ryan Alsop, executive director of County of Kern. “They are really building a cutting edge product that a lot of people are interested in. This is exactly the kind of business we want to do here in Kern County.”
In a state where housing costs keep rising and developers complaining about regulations that are slowing the pace of construction, manufactured homes are seen by some as a solution. The technology has slowly advanced over the decades to a point where it is being seriously considered to address housing and labor shortages statewide.
Andy Fuller, chairman of Fuller Apartment Homes and director of Presidio Capital Partners, said California homes could still be produced in Bakersfield cheaply and quickly using traditional construction, but coastal towns could benefit greatly from prefabricated designs. .
âIt’s been 30 or 40 years so far, but it definitely makes more sense every year,â he said.
The county is even asking for help from Plant Prefab to house the homeless. Sooner or later more and more houses could be built using this method.
âThis is a really good thing for Kern County and I think this location makes a lot of sense,â Fuller added. “I think it’s the future. Like any type of business, it has its challenges, but it took a long time.”
You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You can also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.