Factory_OS, Lennar Mare Island, host grand opening of its operations in Building 680

May 21 2018

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen, Vallejo Times-Herald

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This could be the start of something big.

This was the general feeling among many who attended the grand opening of the new Mare Island Factory_OS facility on Wednesday.

The pre-fab, modular, multifamily residential builder took possession of Building 680 on Nimitz Avenue nearly a year ago, and it’s taken this long to get everything up to speed, Chief Operating Office Larry Pace said. A similar firm, Blu Homes, had been occupying the site, but moved out last year.

Constructed in 1940, Building 680 was the hub of the island’s shipbuilding and repair works until the 1996 closure. It served as a machine shop for the manufacturing and fabrication of submarine and ship components, and is best known for its role in rebuilding the Pacific Fleet after Pearl Harbor, Lennar Mare Island (LMI) officials said. As part of its commitment to building rehabilitation, LMI “invested significant resources upgrading the interior and exterior of Building 680, making it ready for future users,” they said.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” Vallejo Chamber of Commerce President and CEO James Cooper said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to build on something already started by Blu Homes, and this group already has it going.”

The benefits don’t stop with a new business moving onto Mare Island, he said.

“Economically, there’s jobs, revenue from the business, and it’s a business for which there is present and future need,” Cooper said. “This could be the start of something that grows much bigger. We are lucky to be in Vallejo right now as all this is happening.”

The new 250,000 square-foot facility at 1245 Nimitz Avenue will turn out housing units faster, more efficiently and less expensively than traditional builders can, company officials say. The site includes 30,000 square feet of innovation lab, and a 15,000 square foot penthouse for research and education. The 33 stations a unit passes through during the building process include floor and wall assembly, ceiling assembly, interior finishes installation, final inspection and cleanup and package prep and loading, the firm’s material says.

“Due to Factory_OS’s ability to construct the majority of the units in a controlled environment, developers using the Factory_OS models are able to complete their projects faster and at a lower cost than conventional construction,” according to printed material. “Factory_OS already has orders in for its products around the Bay Area and selected Mare Island for its facility because of its unique manufacturing facilities, skilled workforce and central location. The opening of the facility has already created 60 new jobs, with another 150 projected within the next 12 months.”

The time between when the firm took possession of the building and its grand opening was spent readying the place for its new purpose, Pace said.

“We had to prepare all the corporate documents, clear the area of what was left here, finish creating our work stations and engineer our first of three projects,” he said. “By January we anticipate having 165 union workers and 20 management staff.”

Pace said company officials hoped the 150-plus people who attended Wednesday’s event came away with a sense of Factory_OS’s potential.

“We want them to see how we can build quality multifamily residential projects more efficiently,” he said. “We’re working on modular housing for the homeless in Oakland, for instance. We’re looking forward to working with city officials here to help ease the homeless problems in Vallejo.”

Company officials are as happy to be in Vallejo as Vallejo officials are to have them.

“Factory_OS couldn’t be more pleased to be a part the business community on Mare Island,” Factory_OS CEO Rick Holliday said. “The significant investment LMI put into Building 680 made it a perfect fit for Factory_OS, allowing us to quickly begin manufacturing homes, and the central location puts our operation right in the heart of the Bay Area.”

LMI spokesman Ed Moser said company officials feel good about finding an appropriate reuse for the site.

“Mare Island has always been a place where hardworking people come together to build great things, and we are proud to continue that tradition with Factory_OS,” Moser,said. “The investment Factory_OS is making in Mare Island is creating jobs, stimulating economic activity, and creating more housing opportunities for many Bay Area residents.”

Factory_OS’ motto is “changing how we build,” and there’s a sign saying so in the middle of the factory.

What they mean by that is that most of the building is done at the factory, increasing productivity by 50 percent “through efficiencies of assembly line production and the controlled environment of the factory,” printed material says. “New technology platforms, created in partnership with Autodesk, are streamlining the entire process end to end — from design to engineering, production and installation.”

Contact Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824.