OAKFIELD, Maine — A local log home manufacturing firm that has constructed houses across the nation and parts of the world is bustling with a new deal to build houses in China.
Katahdin Cedar Log Homes already has started manufacturing a 10,000-square-foot lodge and real estate center, which will be built on the shores of a man-made lake in Chengdu, China. David Gordon, president of the company, said Thursday that his employees will send the building kit to China in 10 shipping containers at the end of January. Once that is complete, the company will manufacture five more dwellings followed by 20 single-family homes which also will be built on the shores of the lake.
Katahdin Cedar Log Homes’ state-of-the-art production line takes logs that have been already been planed, tongued and grooved. Machines then cut them to lengths required for the house package being built, make corner joints, drill holes for assembly and even produce a hand-planed look if desired.
The logs are tagged so that whoever is assembling the home knows how to fit the parts together. The pieces of the home are packed into containers to be put together like a puzzle when they reach their destination.
The deal could mean a 30 percent jump in 2012 revenues for Katahdin Cedar Log Homes, Gordon said Friday.
Gordon said he was contacted by Kersam Liu, business development manager of Syswin USA, a company that acts as intermediary for Beijing-based Syswin Inc., one of the largest real estate development companies in China.
“We gave them a few quotes and talked to them a bit about different designs,” Gordon said. “A short time later they told us they were coming to Oakfield. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it.”
Representatives from Syswin USA spent close to two days in the area. Gordon showed them a number of cedar dwellings in the area that the company had built. One of those was a large Katahdin-designed log home in Presque Isle that the company uses to display its offerings.
Two weeks later, Syswin notified Katahdin that it had been selected to supply the cedar log homes. Gordon and other company officials traveled to China to close the deal.
Gordon said Katahdin Cedar beat out 12 other log home companies to win the contract.
“One of the buildings they ordered closely resembles the one that we have in Presque Isle,” he said. “The buildings cost between $150,000 and $200,000 each.”
Gordon said that a number of factors helped his company nail the deal, including familiarizing himself and his staff with Chinese building codes, regulations and more.
“They told us that it was the high quality of our product, and our ability to provide training staff familiar with construction in China, that made the difference,” he said. “Our company’s name is known all over the world, and we are known for manufacturing high-quality log homes.”
Founded in 1973 by Foster Gordon and two associates, Katahdin Cedar Log Homes is one of the largest log home manufacturers in the U.S. and the largest processor of northern white cedar in the world. The company now employs about 80 people and manufactures about 200 homes, condominiums and camps per year, shipping them as far away as Israel, Japan and Scotland. The parent company, Katahdin Forest Products, also operates Katahdin Cedar Fencing and Cedar Ideas, a garden accessories company.
In 2008, the company designed and manufactured a 20,000-square-foot restaurant called Eddie Montgomery’s Steakhouse near Harrodsburg, Ky. Eddie Montgomery is one-half of the country singers known as Montgomery Gentry. In 2005, the company constructed the first cedar log home for ABC’s “Extreme Makeover — Home Edition.” That house was built in Wells.
Gordon said that he would send two of his employees to China to oversee the construction process. Chinese workers will assemble the homes.
“In the U.S., it would take six to seven months before the construction process is complete,” said Gordon. “But we don’t know the skill of the Chinese employees. It could take longer or it could be a shorter process.”
He said it could take two to four years to finish building all the homes in the current deal.
Gordon said he hopes the contract with China will help draw additional attention to his company or garner him more work in that country. He said there is a severe shortage of wood in China, leading developers to look outside their boundaries for help with construction projects.