August 17, 2021 | Bill Esler
Tracy, CA—Volumetric Building Companies will acquire Katerra’s 577,000-sq-ft. cabinetry, panel, and building component factory in Tracy, CA. It is the second major asset sale within weeks for Katerra, which entered Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection on June 6, 2021.
Katerra also agreed to sell its Spokane, WA cross laminated timber (CLT) plant on August 3 to Mercer International for $50 million, receiving permission in both deals from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston.
The state-of-the-art Tracy manufacturing facility and offices opened in 2019, as did the Spokane CLT plant. With the deal Mercer now owns a pair of Biesse/Uniteam systems able to fabricate 20×60-ft. panels up to 9 inches thick. The dislocation of housing markets following the COVID-19 pandemic forced Katerra to idle these two plants. The transactions are part of a court supervised reorganization that gave Katerra debtor-in-possession status.
The massive Tracy, CA factory is a highly automated production facility designed for manufacturing building components, including wall panels, floor systems, roof trusses, windows, cabinets and countertops. The newly built offices and showrooms include 50,000 square feet of custom fit-out and furnishings, conference rooms, model display areas, and office suites.
The Spokane facility is outfitted with a pair of Biesse Uniteam CLT 400 machining centers. It is located on 54 acres of land near Spokane and has an area of about 270,000 square feet equipped with extensive automation technologies including the Uniteams, the largest CLT presses in the world.
“With the continued growth and success of VBC, we were exploring options to expand our manufacturing footprint and industry influence,” says Vaughan Buckley, CEO of VBC. “Katerra’s Tracy location provides an exceptional opportunity to bring our hands-on construction and manufacturing expertise to a state-of-the-art facility and build our presence on the West Coast. We look forward to moving quickly to allow displaced staff members to return to work, restart production and support the needs of a very robust construction environment.”
Founded as Vaughan Buckley Construction and rebranded in 2019, Volumetric Building Companies is a modular building construction business headquartered in Philadelphia, PA producing housing by integrating technology, architecture, logistics, manufacturing and construction.
VBC is encouraging former Katerra employees to apply to work at the Tracy location as it reopens and begins production by visiting https://www.vbc.co/tracy/. VBC will begin manufacturing of windows, cabinetry, countertops, trusses and panelized building components in 60 to 90 days and has plans to produce modular housing components in 2022.
“Katerra’s bankruptcy and the shutdown of the Tracy location significantly impacted its employees as well as a wide range of customers,” Buckley says. “We are hopeful that we can provide jobs to many of those employees and help address the needs of those customers. We well understand the current state of play in the construction sector and our goal is to provide great products, superior service and customized solutions for the vibrant California and western U.S. markets.”
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