A Georgia-based company has struck a deal with KBS Builders Inc. in Paris that is expected to reopen the modular home-building plants in Oxford and Waterford.

Digirad Corporation, which designs, manufactures and distributes diagnostic medical imaging products, has purchased KBS Builders properties on Route 26 in Paris and on Route 35 in Waterford, and the former Keiser Homes manufacturing plant on Route 121 in Oxford.

The former Keiser Homes manufacturing plant in Oxford has been shuttered for two years. Advertiser Democrat photo by Leslie H. Dixon.

According to information from ATRM, the holding company of KBS Builders, the KBS properties were sold to Digirad Corp. for their appraised value. The Paris and Waterford plants are being leased by KBS from Digirad at market rates.

“I would say it is our long-term goal to open up the additional factories, thus bring additional jobs to the area,” Matt Mosher, general manager of KBS Builders, said.

The time frame for the reopening of the Oxford and Waterford plants has not been determined.

The action comes two years after Keiser Homes in Oxford, then operating under Excel Homes of Maine, unexpectedly shut its doors in May 2016, putting more than 120 employees out of work. It also comes more than a year after a “for sale” sign was put up on the Waterford plant.

The KBS manufacturing plant in Waterford was put up for sale in late 2017. Advertiser Democrat photo by Leslie H. Dixon

The three manufacturing plants, with a combined footprint of more than 200,000 square feet, could produce more than 1,400 prefabricated modular units per year, making them the only three “significant” modular manufacturing plants within a 100-mile radius, ATRM officials said. ATRM said the transaction enhances KBS’ financial liquidity and will allow for debt
reduction, greater investment in working capital and enhanced ability to serve clients.

Modular center

The Oxford Hills region was once considered the largest modular manufacturing and selling center in New England.

Hundreds of area residents were employed at factories, including the former Burlington Homes, Oxford Homes and Keiser Homes. The modular building business spiraled locally around the time of the nationwide recession in 2008.

In February 2008, Burlington Homes on Route 26 in Oxford ceased operations after 14 years, leaving 70 workers unemployed and surprising retailers throughout New England. It had operated since the early 1970s under different company names.

In 2007, Oxford Homes on Route 26 sold its equipment to Eco Building Systems of Boston after creditors petitioned the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Portland to force the company into liquidation in order to recoup their losses. The creditors represented about 22 percent of the estimated $1.4 million in outstanding secured and unsecured loans. Eco Building Systems took over more than $318,000 in unsecured loans to creditors across New England and paid off the company’s property taxes but was forced to lay off its 93 employees in 2008. The building was sold in June 2011.

In late 2007, KBS Building Systems in Paris purchased the former Waterford Homes on Route 35 from the Massachusetts company, Waterford Homes, after the two-year-old, high-end manufacturer defaulted on mortgage and loan payments, and closed in 2006.

The Waterford plant on 947 Waterford Road reopened early the following year with some 20 new hires, boosting KBS’ production by as much as a third. But seasonal shutdowns due to lack of commercial work in Maine and high overhead at the plant, forced some 20 to 60 or so employees to transfer to the Paris plant or be laid off each winter. In 2016, the plant was put up for sale for close to $1 million.

Keiser Homes was operating under Excel Homes of Maine when it unexpectedly shut its doors at 56 Mechanic Falls Road in May 2016 putting more than 120 employees out of work. The closure was part of a companywide shutdown of its nationwide properties by Innovative Building Systems of Delaware.

Innovative Building Systems filed a voluntary petition for relief in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware under Chapter 7 on May 11, 2016.

In April 2014, KBS Building Systems was purchased by a Minnesota-based manufacturer, Aetrium, from Robert Farnum in a deal reportedly worth $10.5 million. The buyer retained the approximately 200 employees and changed the name to KBS Builders Inc.

Aetrium also changed its name as part of the purchase to ATRM Holdings Inc.

Digirad announced last fall that it intended to acquire ATRM Holdings Inc. after its board of directors approved the conversion of Digirad into a diversified holding company. The move was expected to improve future revenue, cash flow and earnings growth, in part, by creating a platform for “bolt-on “ acquisitions, according to a statement released by Digirad in September 2018.

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