Prefab specialist Katerra buys two American contractors

US prefabrication specialist Katerra has added two contractors to its stable of companies: UEB Builders and Fortune-Johnson General Contractors.

The acquisitions allow the Silicon Valley company to expand its coverage of the American market. UEB Builders is a general contractor in Arizona that constructs commercial and residential projects. Georgia-based Fortune-Johnson specialises in multi-family residential projects. Both companies will adopt the Katerra brand.

Michael Marks, chief executive of Katerra, commented in a press statement: "Both companies share Katerra’s commitment to delivering increased value to customers by embracing technology and innovative methods. The expertise and fresh thinking brought by UEB and Fortune-Johnson will play a key role in realising our vision to transform the building industry in the US."

Brett Fortune, chief executive of Fortune-Johnson, said: "For more than 25 years, Fortune-Johnson has strived to be the premier contractor for multifamily projects in the southeast and mid-Atlantic. Our goal was always to build something better than the competition, and then to standardise it. Joining Katerra allows us to continue to do that, but at scale."

The company did not provide details on the terms of the acquisitions.

Katerra was founded in 2015 by a group of property and technology professionals with the aim of leveraging digital production methods. It has developed a standard kit of building components, including floor systems, roof truss assemblies and wall panels, to build multi-storey residential and other buildings in whatever configuration clients want.

Katerra said the takeovers would add 320 employees to its payroll, bringing total numbers to 8,500.

In January of this year it received $700m of investment from Japan’s SoftBank, bringing its value to more than $4bn.

It presently has five factories making the building elements, a mass timber plant in Spokane, Washington, two component and finish plants in Tracy, California and Phoenix, Arizona, and two in India: a concrete and joinery facility in Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu and modular concrete plant in Hyderabad.

Image: Katerra designed K90, a 24-unit apartment building, to be completed in 90 days near Las Vegas (Trevor DeWitt/Katerra)

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