Bankrupt modular builder Katerra sells factories to rivals

Katerra Inc, the modular builder that was founded in 2015 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2021, has sold its factories in California and Washington State.

Philadelphia contractor Volumetric Building Companies (VBC) purchased Katerra’s 577,000 sq ft plant in Tracy, California, and Mercer subsidiary Blue Varsity bought the 270,000 sq ft facility in Spokane, Washington.

The Tracy factory was opened by Katerra in 2019. Its automated production line makes building components such as wall panels, floor systems and windows. It also includes offices, showrooms and 50,000 sq ft of conference space and model display areas.

The $50m Spokane plant contains one of the largest cross-laminated timber presses in the world. It has sufficient capacity to produce 13 million sq ft of five-ply panels, enough to supply 30% of North America’s mass timber market.

Vaughan Buckley, VBC’s chief executive, said: “With the continued growth and success of VBC, we were exploring options to expand our manufacturing footprint and industry influence.

“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.”

David Gandossi, Mercer’s chief executive, said: “We are very pleased with our  impending acquisition of the facility. It fits well with our strategy to expand in the solid wood products space and aligns with a core value to provide sustainable and carbon-reducing alternatives for a warming planet.”

Image: Robots make wall panels at a Katerra factory (Katerra)

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