Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tedd Benson Opens New Panel Plant in New Hampshire

Bensonwood and its sister company, Unity Homes, celebrated the grand opening of its new panel production facility in Keene, New Hampshire, on April 20. According to the company, more than 200 guests came for the celebration from as far away as Germany, Tennessee and Utah. The production facility produces insulated enclosure systems for high performance buildings.

Company founder and steward Tedd Benson summed up the significance of the new facility: “This facility heralds a new era in our ongoing quest to demonstrate a better way to build,” he said. “It builds on the foundation of experience and know-how that we have developed over decades, and it positions us to remain a leader in housing innovation for many years to come.”

Bensonwood, in the business of building off-site high-end custom homes and non-residential buildings for the past 45 years, will use the new facility to better serve commercial clients and the multifamily sector, in addition to the single family custom home market. Unity Homes, a six-year-old spinoff of Bensonwood that was founded to bring high performance homes to a broader market, will realize similar benefits from the new facility. As demand for Unity Homes has grown, the need for increased production capability has become increasingly apparent. Unity will utilize the manufacturing facility to serve more clients in a wider range of markets, including residential developments of high performance homes.

“Between this new building enclosure facility, our timber fabrication, architectural millwork, and our design expertise, we are now uniquely positioned in the building market,” continued Benson. “We offer a range of service that is unparalleled in North America.”

The manufacturing lines at the newly opened facility use automated equipment from Germany, Austria and France while the timber fabrication equipment, located at their Walpole, New Hampshire facility, is a robotic timber processing machine from Germany. Its precision, six-axis capability and machine efficiency expands the capabilities to work with mass timber and larger timber frame structures.

Once the components of the home or building are manufactured at the facility, they are transported and assembled on-site using a construction system they call “Montage,” as opposed to modular or prefab. This method, according to the company, removes time and costs from building design and construction; Bensonwood has been successfully using its method of off-site manufacturing and Montage construction for its custom homes for decades.

In addition to expanding production capacity, both Bensonwood and Unity Homes plan to expand the scope of work that is completed in the facility prior to being sent to the job site. In the near future, wall panels will be sent to job sites with wiring and siding preinstalled, and eventually completed bathrooms will be delivered as “pods”, or pre-built volumes.

“It just makes sense that siding would be installed here in the shop, rather than by someone dangling off a ladder on a job site,” explained Benson. “And that bathrooms would be completed on an efficient assembly line, rather than in the chaos found on most job sites.”

Now that the new production facility has opened, the company expects to create 15 to 20 new jobs, said Benson. The new jobs are more than manual labor positions, he added.

“This type of off-site fabrication of homes and buildings brings a much-needed high technology into the building trades. It introduces career paths for the next generation of the construction workforce,” he said. “It also fosters new levels of respect for the building trades by introducing sophisticated machinery and processes to an industry that hasn’t seen much real innovation.”

This new facility is part of an expanded vision for the company that includes concurrently launching a brand to serve the industry more broadly and initiating a joint development agreement with a multinational company to develop new technology.

About the Project: Vermont Rural Ventures partnered with Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation, and Monadnock Economic Development Corporation to provide New Markets Tax Credit financing for the manufacturing expansion with employees from New Hampshire and Vermont. In addition to traditional financing with TD Bank, a Community Development Block Grant was obtained to complete the project.

UNITY HOMES builds high performance homes throughout the Northeast. Unity takes advantage of traditions and technologies from all over the world to create homes that are comfortable, healthy, quiet and energy efficient. Unity’s “Montage” construction system is based on precisely manufacturing building components in the controlled conditions of a shop, and then assembling them rapidly on site into a weathertight shell. This process results in homes that are extremely energy-efficient, with heating and cooling costs that are predictably low. A healthy indoor environment is ensured by the use of non-toxic materials and a ventilation system that provides continuous fresh air. Learn more about comfortable, healthy living in a Unity Home at www.unityhomes.com.

About Bensonwood: For more than 40 years, Bensonwood has delivered uncompromising quality and innovation in fully-custom, high-performance, timberframe, hybrid and mass timber houses, buildings, and specialty structures. An integrated services company, Bensonwood incorporates unique, Open-Built® technologies and environmentally-responsible practices in all its healthy, energy efficient buildings. For more information: www.bensonwood.com .

About Tedd Benson: Tedd, founder of Bensonwood (1973) and Unity Homes (2012), has devoted his life to developing a better way to build. A key figure in the revival of timberframing in America, he was one of the founders of the Timber Framers Guild of North America (1984) and authored four books on the subject. Through the decades, Bensonwood established itself as a creative leader in timberframe design, engineering, craftsmanship and CAD‐CAM technology. This work has taken the company to nearly every state in the U.S. (Oklahoma is a holdout), as well as Canada, England and Japan. Today, Bensonwood continues that leadership, pioneering the use of Mass Timber and CLTs in buildings large and small. After having spent many years with the Bensonwood team developing processes, systems, logistics and technology, Tedd went on to found Unity Homes, now a sister company, with the objective to normalize high performance and increase affordability.. Tedd is a nationally known speaker and presenter and is the recipient of many awards, including an honorary doctorate from Unity College, and most recently, The Granite State Award in recognition of his statewide and national influence on best building practices.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Coach, you and Tedd must be on the same track. You've been pushing for bath and kitchen pods for some time and advocate for more component pieces being built before they reach the assembly line.