It’s official! Unity and Bensonwood have begun working on the building in Keene, NH that will become a new production facility serving both companies. The facility, which will be operational in the fall, features state-of-the-art equipment for producing high-performance homes. With the anticipated four-fold increase in production capacity, Unity will be better able to serve the growing market for homes that are healthy, comfortable and energy-efficient.
“We are very excited about what the future holds for Unity,” says company founder Tedd Benson. “And we are also humbled by the work that’s ahead of us.”
Modifying the 100,000 SF building to suit its new purpose will take about three months. The pallet racks that remained from the building’s former life (a warehouse for medical products) have been removed. The construction team recently took down the interior walls that will no longer be needed, and work is now underway to upgrade the mechanical and electrical systems.
In order to expedite the overall project, the Unity/Bensonwood team will begin installing the new production equipment while work on the building itself is still underway.
Senior Project Manager for the facility, Paul Boa, is eager to get the new machines up and running. “We’ve been waiting a long time for this, and invested countless hours in planning the project. It’s great to finally see things starting to come together in the building.”
Boa will oversee the installation of the automated production lines, the computer-controlled machinery and the robotic material-handling equipment that will make the production facility unique in North America.
The increased production capacity will require more skilled workers, which means more jobs for the region—at least fifteen, according to Benson. “These aren’t your typical carpentry jobs,” he says. “Most of the work is done in the controlled conditions of our shop, using sophisticated equipment that enhances safety and productivity. You’re more apt to find our ‘carpenters’ checking a 3D virtual model on a tablet computer than shuffling through a set of paper plans.”
How do Unity’s shop workers feel about the new facility? Nick Nash, who is responsible for the company’s existing CNC machines, echoes the sentiments of many coworkers when he says “I’m looking forward to working in the new facility. The new equipment is amazing, and working with it will be a fun challenge. I’ve done carpentry on job sites in the usual way, and the way we build is more interesting and satisfying. I get to use my head as much as my hands, and with each home we build, I feel like I’m contributing to improving an industry.”
Improving the industry—finding better ways to build—has been the motivating force behind Benson’s 45-year career in homebuilding.
“I’ve been saying for a long time that the American public is being underserved by the homebuilding industry,” states Benson. “Most other industries have made great strides in the past few decades toward increasing quality and lowering costs—but not homebuilding. Most homes in America are still built essentially the same way they were two hundred years ago, by cutting and shaping each piece on site. Unity and Bensonwood have pioneered the use of off-site manufacturing methods to build high-quality homes. This new facility will allow us to take our game to the next level—and we hope to provide inspiration to the rest of the industry.”
Stay tuned to Unity’s newsletters and website for updates on the new facility.