'Pent-up demand' for stores, solar carports, moving 'tiny homes'

[caption id="attachment_16557" align="alignright" width="256" caption="Codding Steel Frame Solutions manufactured wall panels for the new Crissy Field Center in San Francisco."][/caption]

ROHNERT PARK – Codding Enterprises' 2-year-old, light-gauge steel framing panel manufacturing venture is building momentum with new contracts and new veteran modular-construction leadership.

Initially supplying panelized framing for Codding-related ventures, Codding Steel Frame Solutions has increasingly been garnering orders for automobile dealership renovations, trailer-mounted "tiny homes," fast-food restaurants, grocery stores, schools and "solar carports."

[caption id="attachment_16558" align="alignleft" width="108" caption="J.R. Gunter"][/caption]

"Projects have been ramping up in the last 30 to 60 days," said J.R. Gunter, hired in September as president of Codding Steel. "I think more capital is becoming available. There has been pent-up demand, and most are seeing light at the end of the tunnel in the economy. They're making capital expenditures now to get the best prices."

He was president of GV Custom Modular Construction. The 60,000-square-foot, $15 million-a-year Healdsburg-based manufacturer was a recognized leader in sturdy-built modules for schools, hospitals and commercial properties. The company closed in 2002.

Codding Steel is forming a contract manufacturing relationship with San Francisco-based Project FROG, which stands for Flexible Response to Ongoing Growth. Codding Steel already has delivered panels for three Project FROG projects, the latest of which is the 7,500-square-foot Crissy Field Center in San Francisco. The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the National Park Service commissioned the project to demonstrate green-building technologies.

Production will start shortly for panels bound for five school complexes venture capital–backed Project FROG will be building next year on three islands in Hawaii. Delivery is set for early next year.

In July 2007, Codding Enterprises invested $5 million in licensing light-gauge steel panel manufacturing technology from Genesis Worldwide of Toronto and opening a factory in one of the former Agilent Technologies production buildings at Codding's Sonoma Mountain Village redevelopment project in Rohnert Park.

Initial projects for the factory were renovated office space at Sonoma Mountain Village and the pending Whole Foods Market store at Coddingtown mall in Santa Rosa.

Another early source of Codding Steel work is Tortoise Shell Home LLC, which has been operating from the factory almost since it opened. Owners Bill and Sharon Kastinos have been using lumber to frame 8-feet-wide by 16- to 28-feet-long trailer-mounted "tiny homes" built with construction more like homes than recreational vehicles. Options include solar and wind power for off-grid living, a tankless water heater and a water-treatment system for tapping lakes or streams.

Prompted by interest from Chanselor Guest Ranch in Bodega Bay for luxury rental "eco-cabins," Tortoise Shell Home has been working with Codding Steel to transition the wood framing to panelized steel, with units assembled and finished in the factory. The first Chanselor unit arrived in July.

"There is a significant order coming up for Tortoise Shell Home, because there is a lot of demand for campground units as many people are anticipating they will be vacationing locally," said Mr. Gunter.

Other Codding Steel projects in the past year include 22 laboratories at Genentech's Dixon plant, exterior walls for the ultra-green Nissan of Santa Rosa remodel and a Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market store in Cathedral City and roof trusses for a Lafayette library.

Upcoming is a 25,000-square-foot YMCA of Santa Rosa "solar carport" with a 250-kilowatt photovoltaic array installed and financed by Solar City.

Next spring construction is set to begin on the Las Palmas housing development in Sonoma Valley. It will feature modular rooms by Emeryville-based BuildPod inserted into panelized framing by Codding Steel.