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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, January 6, 2014, 7:00 am

Blu Homes expands as production doubles

Sales rose by 50% in 2013 to $60 million

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    Workers at Blu Homes’ plant in Vallejo assemble the floor of a future house. (image credit: Kim Kulish)

    VALLEJO — Blu Homes, which makes fold-out prebuilt homes, is expanding its design and manufacturing center on Mare Island to accommodate rapid growth in sales.

    Blu Homes (bluhomes.com, 866-887-7997) leased 117,000 square feet of warehouse and office space from Lennar Mare Island, including plans to build an office mezzanine in its existing 275,000-square-foot manufacturing plant building for the design and engineering teams, according to the company. The chief goal of this is said to be increasing collaboration and innovation by having manufacturing, engineering, product management, design and sales under one roof.

    “Blu has built a world-class operations team, with a combined 100-plus years’ experience manufacturing thousands of homes a year,” said Maura McCarthy, vice president of strategic development. “With consumer interest in our premium line of prefab homes at an all-time high, Blu has ramped manufacturing operations in 2013 with the goal of building twice as many homes as 2012.”

    Booked sales totaled $60 million in 2013, compared with $40 million in 2012, according to the company.

    The company leased 89,000 square feet of warehouse space at 1310 Railroad Ave. to store materials and finished homes prior to shipment. An 8,000-square-foot annex across from the plant now houses the 20-plus-person engineering team and 10 in design and market development. A new 10,000-square-foot office space at 690 Walnut Ave. is being outfitted for 30-plus finance and administration workers as well as a design center for prospective clients.

    Blu Homes is closing its 38-employee office in Ann Arbor, Mich., which had been the base for the design team. Fourteen of the 38 had accepted positions in Vallejo as of the end of December, according to a spokeswoman.

    The company has been considering consolidating a 12-person office in Waltham, Mass., and an office in San Francisco to Mare Island, but no decisions have been made, Dana Smith said.

    Blu Homes started six and a half years ago and opened the Vallejo plant in late 2011. It makes factory-built homes that have hinged walls that allow sections to be lifted into place and folded out for construction in hours instead of weeks as with conventional construction. The homes include modern design and environmentally friendly features. Models installed in California range in cost from $145,000 to $625,000, plus land and site costs.

    The company has raised $134 million over its six years in business, most recently with a $65 million round announced in June. The goal of that new money was to build up to 20 display homes around the U.S.

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