A year after a Factory_OS opened its hulking premanufactured housing factory on Vallejo’s Mare Island, the company has turned out hundreds of units and has orders for 1,000 more.
The startup was recognized at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., last month for Ivory Homes’ first Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability.
Factory_OS was one of four winners this year, out of about 30 modular builders and 125 applicants. The company stood out in the Construction and Design category, which garnered 46% of the nominations, and around 90% considered for the category were factory builders, according to Ivory Homes.
“Factory_OS is transforming the construction industry by vertically integrating 21st century off-site building technologies, software operating systems, lean manufacturing, and workforce development. They are striving to deliver multifamily housing more than 40% faster and at 20% lower cost,” the announcement said.
The company has produced about 300 units in the past 12 months and has $200 million in orders on the books, equivalent to around 1,000 apartments, according to Rick Holliday, CEO. That includes employee housing to be delivered to Google on the San Francisco Peninsula in September, four projects for San Francisco public-private ventures and an affordable-housing project in Truckee for a Sacramento-area builder.
“We’ve been hearing from people who want us to build more factories and work 24/7 with more shifts,” he said.
The company now employs 175, half of whom weren’t working in the trades a year ago, Holliday said. Many moved from minimum-wage jobs to wages totaling $50,000-$60,000 a year, he said. Factory_OS worked out a deal with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Jointers of America to train and manage workers for the plant.
About 50,000 units’ worth of projects along the West Coast have been pitched to Factory_OS, Holliday said. Proposals include master-planned communities and a piece of the $1.2 billion eyed for supportive housing for homelessness in the Los Angeles area.
In the works now and set to close soon is additional funding to take the company to the next level, Holliday said. That would allow for an additional shift of roughly 100 more employees, better technology such as programmers for software that will increase factory efficiency, and more financial industry backing.
“Because we’re getting bigger customers, we need certain financial bonds to get projects,” Holliday said.