Walton to open Houlton manufacturing plant

13 years ago

Photograph by Nok-Noi Ricker of the Bangor Daily News
BU-Lemforder-dcx-pt-7NEW PURCHASE — Chad Walton of Bangor, formerly of Littleton, stands within the old ZF Lemforder plant in Brewer where his SnapSpaceSolutions, Inc. will construct modular buildings. Walton will also use the Houlton International Corporation facility, as well.

By Gloria Austin
Staff Writer

    New jobs may be coming to the Shiretown in May.
    Bangor resident Chad Walton, formerly of Littleton, will be utilizing the Houlton International plant to help with manufacturing steel modular buildings.
    “They are like modular homes, but instead of having wooden walls, these have steel,” said Walton. “It’s really a green method of building.”
    The ingenious part is these buildings are fabricated from recycled ISBU shipping containers and they are nearly indestructible, as they are hurricane, tornado and earthquake proof.
    “Annually, we import much more than we export,” Walton said. “So, there are a lot of these shipping containers that are left here. We are recycling them instead of cutting down more trees.”
    The buildings range from storage units, homes, hotels, dorms and offices to emergency shelters. Building with shipping containers is much like connecting Legos™ The units can connect and stack making efficient use of space for a fraction of the cost in labor and conventional materials.
    “Everything residential that we build is going to be all Energy-Star certified,” Walton said. “One of our other companies builds Star-certified homes so we are going to be incorporating that in so they are going to be very, very efficient.”
    This concept of steel modular buildings isn’t new on the global market. Check out their website at snapspacesolutions.com, and click on the links to see examples of what the rest of the world is doing with these.
    “In Europe they have been building homes, schools, offices and various other projects with these recycled ISBU containers for many years. This is a project we have been working on and researching for a decade now, and finally are ready to launch,” Walton said.
Contributed photograph
bu-clr- walton-dcx-pt-7NEW BUSINESS — Bangor resident Chad Walton, formerly of Littleton, purchased the former ZF Lemforder building in Brewer, which before its 2010 closure was home to the German manufacturer of car auto parts and suspensions. He also owns the old Houlton International Corporation facility, which  he will be using to manufacture steel modular buildings.

    Recently, Walton purchased the former ZF Lemforder building in Brewer, which before its 2010 closure was home to the German manufacturer of car auto parts and suspensions. The building is 126,000 square feet on 12.5 acres of land with all transportation modes abutting it, rail, Interstate 395, and the Penobscot River for shipping barges. He also owns the old Houlton International Corporation facility, which is 66,000 square feet. Walton will be using both the Houlton and Brewer facilities for manufacturing these green and efficient products.
    Walton is working with two departments at the University of Maine at Orono, the Advanced Manufacturing Center College of Engineering on specialty equipment and the Knowledge Transfer Alliance School of Economics on markets and market strategy.
    The ZF Lemforder plant peaked at over 400 employees who were highly trained in all aspects of mass manufacturing such as Leen, Six Sigma, and many design and CAD software applications. “We are going to try to put back to work all those highly trained engineers and production people in both locations,” said Walton.
    What the Houlton plant will assemble — whether it is doing the full manufacturing or just a portion — and how many people will be needed is dependent on what is built at the Brewer facility.
    “Until then, I haven’t the slightest idea,” he said. “It could five, 55 or 155. Right now, I have a project on my desk and if we do it all in-house here, it will take 150 people.”
    Walton is working on projects for FEMA, Department of Defense and local and state needs.
    “We expect to start with a dozen positions in Brewer, and about the same in Houlton this spring when we can get going there, he said.
    Walton and his staff will be building a prototype of each different design of the steel modular buildings in the Brewer facility, production and other steps in the Houlton facility.