Heritage American Homes, a division of Patriot Homes Inc., was awarded a large contract by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help produce "FEMA houses for temporary living," according to Al Glaes, plant manager for the Sikeston Heritage American Homes facility.
"We have our first FEMA house coming off our production line," Glaes said during a news conference Wednesday. The house is one of 2,000 being produced at Heritage American Homes' six facilities for the FEMA contract, he said. All the FEMA homes are to be finished by Dec. 15.
The contract was awarded to Heritage American Homes in early September, according to Brian Trauernicht, director of operations for Heritage American Homes. The company's other plants have been shipping the FEMA homes for about two or three weeks, he said.
Builders all over the nation were contracted by FEMA to produce houses for temporary shelter, according to Glaes. "And we can do that here, also," he said.
The 840-square-foot, all-electric houses are built to FEMA's specifications and include furnishings. The FEMA homes are meant to be used for up to 18 months. After being used, the homes are stored by FEMA and refurbished for future use.
Furnishings and appliances are produced by other companies and shipped to Heritage American Homes to be packed inside and shipped with the FEMA houses, according to Glaes.
The company is also providing handicapped-accessible versions, he said.
In addition to announcing the completion of its first FEMA house, Glaes said he also wanted to extend "a thank you to the city of Sikeston" as well as to the city's Department of Economic Development director. "Ed Dust has been very helpful."
As all available space is being used for production at Heritage American Homes' 135,000-square-foot plant on Wakefield, a portion of the former Essex building, which has almost 200,000 square feet, is being used by the company to store materials.
"We have let them use that building free of charge for 90 days for this contract because our goal is to create jobs and that's what we're doing," Dust said.
Heritage American Homes is using about 40,000 square feet at the former Essex building, according to Dust.
"We are truly grateful to the city of Sikeston - it is a great facility," Glaes said. "It takes a lot of materials to build these houses."
"This is just a good enhancement for an existing business," said Ed Throop, executive director of the Board of Municipal Utilities.
Scott County Commissioner Dennis Ziegenhorn, who first suggested making the Essex building available for displaced business in the Gulf Area, is pleased to see the facility being used for the recovery effort.
While he originally pictured the facility being used by workers from the Gulf Coast, "they came right out of our own home town," he said. "I'm really excited."
The Sikeston plant will continue to produce its regular products for customers while fulfilling the FEMA contract, Glaes said. "Normally we build modular houses here," he said.
While the plant normally takes about two weeks to produce a home, the FEMA homes can be completed in about four and half days, according to Glaes.
"They're all the same - they're all identical," he said of the FEMA homes. "Most of our houses are custom built." Their usual products are around 1,800 to 2,200 square feet, according to Glaes.
To keep up with both its regular customers and the FEMA contract, the Sikeston facility is ramping up from two houses per day to five or six, Glaes said, which may mean even more jobs.
Heritage American Homes opened its facility here in the fall of 1997.