POCATELLO — Economic growth continues in the Gate City area, with a new business, Zip Kit Homes, planning to expand into the Pocatello-Chubbuck area this summer.
With the new business, area residents can expect 20, possibly 40 new jobs, according to a Bannock Development Corporation announcement on Thursday.
Zip Kit Homes owner Chris Jaussi said he expects to finalize contract negotiations on the location of the company’s new manufacturing facility in the Pocatello area over the next two weeks. Jaussi is hopeful to start hiring employees here no later than June 1.
“We were looking at Pocatello and a few other locations and the guys at Bannock Development were extremely helpful,” Jaussi said. “They got right back to me, lined up a few buildings we could look at and introduced us to key people up there.”
Zip Kit Homes is a division of Timberhawk Homes, located in Mount Pleasant, Utah. With limited space at their small factory in Utah, they have outgrown current capacity and decided Pocatello best matched their business needs.
Jaussi chose to move into Eastern Idaho because of the skilled workforce in the area, excellent building locations, transportation systems and proximity to specific markets, all of which met Zip Kit’s business needs.
“We were looking for a place where there was a decent labor force and was a good mid-sized city, something that wasn’t too expensive,” Jaussi said. “And Pocatello came up on the radar. Because of the interest in our homes in the areas around Jackson Hole and other expensive mountain areas, we thought it would be nice to be closer to those locations.”
Jaussi added that the business will start by hiring a handful of new employees and as business demands increase, the number of new employees could reach 40. Further, wages will start in the mid-teens and rise with more qualifications.
The team at Zip Kit Homes have been involved in the construction industry for decades.
“We are a group of general contractors who have built many homes and apartments in the past,” Jaussi said. “We transitioned into building panelized construction. And it was in 2008 that we had this factory down in Mount Pleasant, but there was no new construction going on.”
More recently, Zip Kit Homes and Jaussi’s team decided to focus their efforts on small, precision-built, prefab homes. This allows the company to maintain high quality and keep costs low.
“People often confuse modular housing with manufactured housing,” Jaussi said. “Manufactured homes are built to a different building code, which would be like a double-wide or single-wide trailer. The homes we build are not trailers. We build the exact same building code as any other house or apartment building. It’s built to the same standard as any site-built home and we try to do them more energy efficient.”
Jaussi said he believes there is big trend right now in which younger people can’t buy homes because they are too expensive.
“In the future, I think there should be a number of developments where people can buy a really nice, modern home that’s only 700 square feet. If you can get that on land for under $100,000, I think that’s a big untapped market.”
He continued, “I think that the millennial generation would rather live in a small house and have a lot more freedom than live in a big house they can’t afford. For married couples and younger people, I think 600 or 700 square feet is a very livable, nice house.”
In addition to bringing more jobs to the area, Jaussi said Zip Kit Homes would like to partner with local contractors or developers.
“Sort of like a dealership agreement,” Jaussi said. “In Pocatello, that’s what we will be more interested in. It would be nice to find a land developer that wants to build a whole neighborhood of smaller, affordable houses. If you’re a general contractor some people might see that as a threat and that they would be competing against us. But I would say we would be more interested in working with them. This can be a win-win for everybody.”
To learn more about Zip Kit Homes, visit www.zipkithomes.com.