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Light at the end of the tunnel

by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — The Kaspia Group, a New Mexico licensed general contractor and real estate service firm that specializes in affordable housing development, real estate, finance, and commercial construction services throughout the southwest has announced the purchase of the former Kan-Build site in Walsenburg and is expected to begin modular home manufacturing locally in early 2013.
Rick Walters, the site manager, told the Huerfano World Journal last week that immediate plans call for the hiring of four additional staff members for clean up, inventory and preparation of a soon-to-be-scheduled auction of excess material. Walters said all of the clean up and renovations necessary will be done by local hires. He said hiring of these first employees could be done as soon as this week.
Walters said there will be two separate manufacturing lines once operations are up and running and the company expects to turn out at least one fully completed home per day.
The good news for Walsenburg and Huerfano County is the expected hiring of 60 to 65 full time employees at higher than minimum wage. “We have no time frame I can give you right now,” Walters said. He continued though by saying company executives will be meeting with city and county leaders in the very near future to see what kind of government incentives may be available.
Unlike some operations at the site in the past, the Kaspia Group will build superior quality modular homes on a per contract basis with clients selecting from a number of models offered. “This will not be a one-off build,” Walters said.
The firm plans to hired unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers for the Walsenburg facility.
The company’s website says, “Kaspia building projects are always done in a way that is affordable to low-and moderate-income clients. Kaspia performs new development projects at an affordable rate. Our past projects have been affordable and energy efficient, often using a modular building model that can be designed to fit the design needs of the client.”
With a plan that calls for construction of modular homes on a per contract basis, the firm is looking at a scenario that should keep employees busy no matter what kind of turn the economy takes. “The markets we are looking at never really went down,” Walters said.
Kaspia Group modular home models will be made-to-order for lower to moderate income housing developments, government contracts and already play a large part in housing for the expanding oil and gas industry in the west and southwestern United States.
The site in Walsenburg has been closed for some time, and while it has been for sale, has had few serious inquiries due in large part to the national downturn in home buying and construction. However, the location, with an available workforce, was perfect for Kaspia.
The approximate 12-acre site has the buildings and features the company sought for a new manufacturing plant. It was designed as a modular home building concern in 1970 and underwent renovations in 1998. The site has easy highway and city access and already has in place all of the heavy duty electrical, work stations and material storage the new business will need.
Walters said the company will be working with Rocky Mountain SER, the state Workforce Centers and other local entities when the time comes to begin hiring employees.
Employees will have to undergo pre-hiring drug screenings and Walters said unannounced, random drug screenings will continue once operations have commenced to ensure safety and productivity and quality of the final products.
The firm is also opening a Las Cruces, New Mexico facility that will employ 250 people. ­

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