KBS signs $5.5M deal


PARIS – KBS Building Systems has penned a $5.5 million deal that it says will not only ensure its 138 local employees a job through next winter but add another 10 to 15 jobs to the local market.

The company will build the Village at 30 Pines, a 90-unit condominium complex in Concord, N.H., for Great Ridge Development.

“I think we found a winner,” said project principal Maury Needham of the company that in three years has grown from $9 million to a $23 million business by shifting its work from traditional residential home building to more commercial-based projects. The commercial projects include apartment complexes on Block Island in Rhode Island.

Needham said it didn’t take a lot of effort to convince him that hiring the Paris-based company would benefit his project.

“I was going to stick-build,” said Needham at a news conference Tuesday morning in the Route 26 manufacturing and corporate complex. When his general contractor Matt Evangelista, of Great Ridge General Contractors, suggested they build a modular project, Needham conceded that he was taken aback at first. “What are you talking about, a trailer park?” he asked.

It didn’t take long for Evangelista to convince him that modular was the way to go and that KBS was the company to build it.

“We couldn’t afford to make a mistake,” said Needham, who brought officials from his lending bank, Commerce Bank of Worcester, Mass., to Maine to tour the KBS facility.

Now Needham says his only question to his KBS partners is, “Where do we go from here?”

Evangelista said modular construction is more favorable to stick construction for several reasons, including a shorter construction period, product quality, the support that KBS gives to the project and the fact that KBS employees stay with the project to the end.

“This is where the market is. This is where we need to be,” said KBS General Manager Ray Atkisson of the commercial building projects. Atkisson said that 25 percent of KBS’s annual business is now light commercial, and because of the move toward commercial projects, KBS has been able to keep its employees on all winter for the past three years.

Sales manager Mike Hamm said KBS’s light commercial projects have included an elementary school in Saco, a convent in Waterville and duplexes and condominiums and apartments. “The trend is toward non-traditional residential projects,” he said.

Sales specialist Joe Rideout said it is important to let the state know that there are companies diversifying and continuing to expand despite reports that the industry is suffering.

Success, however, comes with a caveat, said Atkisson. The company pays $800,000 to provide employees with health insurance. “The governor needs to know we need better health insurance.”

“It’s one of our biggest challenges,” he said.