KBS to reopen plant, hire workers

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PARIS — More than half of the 60 jobs lost at KBS Building Systems in the last year and one half are expected to be back on line next month when the former Waterford Homes plant re-opens for business.

About 40 to 50 employees will be hired — including some that were laid off at the Waterford plant. More employees may be hired in the next few months, said Mike Hamm, KBS sales manager.

“We landed some new commercial modular projects that will bring us through to 2011,” Hamm said. The new orders, which include a 290-unit, multi-family complex in Lunenberg, Mass., are expected to help bring the company’s sales up to a forecasted $45 million by the end of the year.

“It’s big for a mom-and-pop business,” said Hamm Tuesday of the company on Route 26 that has grown from revenues of about $9 million in 2004 to a $23 million business in 2007 by shifting its work from traditional residential home building to more commercial projects throughout New England. One such project was an apartment complex on Block Island in Rhode Island.

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In 2007, 25 percent of the company’s annual business was commercial. Today, about 75 percent of the company’s work is commercial, Hamm said.

Hamm said the commercial business, such as multi-family housing in Maine simply isn’t there. Most of the company’s commercial contracts are coming out of other parts of New England, largely in Massachusetts.

Hamm said the latest contract will not only mean the reopening of the former Waterford Homes factory in Waterford, but it should help the overall economy in Oxford Hills as well.

In late 2007, KBS Building Systems purchased the former Waterford Homes property from a Massachusetts firm. Waterford Homes, a two-year-old high end manufacturing business, defaulted on mortgage and loan payments, and closed down in 2006.

The 17-acre property with a 30,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, located at 947 Waterford Road, was reopened for business early the next year with some 20 new hires, an increase of the KBS business by as much as a third of production.

But Hamm said the poor economy forced the plant to shut down about six to eight months later and to lay off its employees in that plant.

KBS Building Systems has been increasing its commercial job base for the past several years. Projects have included a 90-unit condominium complex in Concord, N.H., a $12 million townhouse/condo project in Oxford, Mass., 48 modular townhouse units for student housing at Thomas College and townhouses for Chelmsford (Mass.) Housing Authority.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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