Kodiak Steel Homes Survives Housing Storm

by Joanna Kauffmann  on Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 12:00 am  

Since it began in 1994, Kodiak Steel Homes has been weathering the storm in more ways than one.

The North Little Rock company, which has six full-time employees, grew out of one hurricane and played a role in the rebuilding of communities following another. Its homes are built to withstand tornadoes, and the company has survived a tough housing downturn to remain one of the only companies creating steel-framed homes.

"We're kind of the last man standing because of the housing downturn," said John House, president and CEO of the company. "We're one of the only ones who are doing anything like this in the United States."

After Hurricane Hugo devastated the Carolinas, owners reported that steel-framed buildings produced by a company called Heritage Building Systems of North Little Rock sustained much less damage than other buildings around them. The news was all the push that brothers Byron and Scott House, who formed Heritage in 1979, needed. They asked their brother, John House, then a Heritage salesman, to develop a line of steel-framed homes. Heritage All Steel Homes was born as a division of Heritage Building Systems.

In 2003, All Steel Homes broke away from Heritage Building Systems, and a year later the House family sold Heritage Building Systems to NCI Group Inc., a steel manufacturer in Houston. As part of the buy-sell agreement with NCI, the House family gave NCI the exclusive rights to manufacture the steel components used in the fabrication of All Steel Homes' houses. NCI in turn guaranteed competitive pricing, which allowed the company to keep its products affordable.

John House said that NCI gives his company, now known as Kodiak Steel Homes, much better steel prices than other companies are able to get and continues to do the fabrication work on Kodiak's homes.


Surviving Disaster

Fully established as an independent company, Kodiak got to work. True to its history, the company is dedicated to designing, engineering and, with NCI, manufacturing homes that can withstand significant stress. The company has never received a report of one of its home models being seriously damaged by a natural disaster.

"We develop houses that are not only strong wind-wise but are also elevated," said House. In Arkansas, where tornadoes can wreak havoc, and along the Gulf Coast, where hurricanes can lead to flooding, these two features are especially important.

While the company has been told stories of its houses surviving devastation, such as California wildfires and extremely high winds, it has also been involved in helping those whose homes were not so lucky. Following Hurricane Katrina, House said, Kodiak homes played an important role in the rebuilding efforts in the "outlying areas" around New Orleans. 

Ocean Springs, Miss., was one of the areas hit hard by Katrina. After John and Maryalice Miner, who own Miner's Doll & Toy Store in Ocean Springs, lost their house in the storm, they began looking for a more secure option. That led them to Kodiak.



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