Plant Prefab to Open Nation’s First Automated Factory Dedicated to Efficiently and Sustainably Building Multifamily and Single-Family Housing

A preview of Plant Prefab’s first automated factory, a 270,000-square-foot regional production hub opening in 2023. Located in the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center just south of Bakersfield, CA, the factory enables Plant Prefab to serve the entire Western United States. The factory increases Plant Prefab’s production capacity to support large-scale developments, while enabling a step change in production velocity, quality control, and sustainability.

Local manufacturer creating braces for Las Vegas Raiders

When the Las Vegas Raiders take the field this season, they’ll bring a little piece of Bakersfield with them — beyond starting quarterback and Bakersfield Christian alum Derek Carr, that is.

The local medical equipment manufacturer Townsend Design faces stiff competition in supplying its knee and elbow braces and carbon-fiber footplate to professional sports teams. This season, however, the 38-year-old company, owned by French firm Thuasne, will supply the Raiders with specialized bracing for their offensive and defensive lines. The teamwide deal is the first of its kind for the company, said Brian Franklin, its vice president of national accounts. “We’re kind of looked at as a custom shop, or a custom fabrication manufacturer,” Franklin said. “And it’s not just putting an off-the-shelf, or a standard-sizing brace, on one of their million-dollar athletes.” The Raiders relationship was previously nurtured by Townsend’s San Jose-based former Director of Sports Bracing Steve Bartlinski back when the team was in Oakland.

When Townsend was founded in 1984, it didn’t take long to get its equipment on some of the most prominent athletes of the era. The company touts Troy Aikman, John Elway, Ronnie Lott and Jerry Rice, plus a few key players outside football, like Shaquille O’Neal, among its clients. But over the years, Bartlinski said, Townsend became better known for orthotics and prosthetics beyond the sports world. “There was a little bit of a lull where we didn’t really have a relationship,” Franklin added, “maybe with the newer orthopedic surgeons that were taking kind of the helm as team docs, and some of the newer training staffs that were coming into a lot of the teams.”

Bartlinski was introduced to the product in 2008 as the head athletic trainer at Stanford. He complained to an orthotist friend about how the supposedly “custom-fit” braces he was ordering from other companies never actually fit his athletes, and the friend recommended he give Townsend a shot. “They were super durable … and mechanically, they stayed in place,” Bartlinski said, “the hinge worked similar to what the knee does, and it just made it a really common-sense approach.” He later joined the company in 2017 in a newly created sports bracing role and immediately started drawing on his connections from the training world, using his medical knowledge to help explain the science behind the braces. (Essentially, they use a three-dimensional scan of an extremity to build the brace, which centers on the hinge secured by a non-elastic strap.)

Bartlinski built from the ground up, focusing on junior colleges that might not typically receive preferential treatment from brace manufacturers, with an emphasis on price transparency. At Stanford, he said, a company would offer him 30 braces for free, but then they’d turn around and go to City College of San Francisco and gouge them. “My goal was to basically formulate a program that would be conducive to any budget within the athletic training, sports medicine world,” Bartlinski said. “We provided systematic discounts across the board for schools, whether it be a high school, a junior college like Bakersfield College or the Las Vegas Raiders.” Townsend has strengthened its relationships in recent years, Franklin said, thanks to extensive networking that includes appearances at an alphabet soup of conferences and conventions: the AAOS (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons), NATA (National Athletic Trainers’ Association), PFATS (Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society) and more.

Bartlinski left Thuasne in 2020 and now leads sports medicine at San Jose State, where the Spartans wear Townsend braces. “I have nothing but fond memories of my time there,” he said, “but I also have nothing but great fond memories and appreciation for the science that was put into creating these braces back in the 80s.”

Pacific Steel awards main contract for $350M California rebar mill

Pacific Steel Group anticipates an early-2025 start for a 380,000 ton/year rebar mill in Mojave, Calif., integrating the facility with its fabrication and installation businesses. The company has awarded a contract to Pennsylvania-based Danieli Corp. to build an advanced MIDA Hybrid micro mill, potentially powered by adjacent solar arrays. With four North American rebar mill installations since 2009, the MIDA milling technology yields production efficiencies through “endless” casting and rolling and lowers energy consumption by eliminating the need for the second heating phase typical of steel bar production.

The Mojave facility will help lower carbon dioxide emissions through world class productivity metrics, reduced transportation requirements for Southwest region concrete contractors, and the use of green energy, Pacific Steel affirms. “We are excited about partnering with Danieli to build one of the cleanest, safest and most efficient steel mills in the world,” adds Chairman Eric Benson.

New Patterson sustainable high-tech building company begins hiring; 250 jobs coming

A sustainable building company finishing its “MegaFactory” in Patterson has started hiring. Palo Alto-based S²A Modular announced plans for its new manufacturing plant in Patterson earlier this year. Construction got started over the summer and now the company has begun its initial hiring phase, which consists of about 40…


The facility housing a Fresno manufacturing company has joined the portfolio of a local development firm. Fresno-based Cook Land Co. (CLC) has announced the purchase of the LAKOS Filtration Systems manufacturing facility for $6.9 million. Located at 1365 N. Clovis Ave. in Fresno, the 93,000 square foot facility was built in 1972 by local entrepreneur Claude Laval.

This purchase is one in a series of recent acquisitions for the real estate development and management company, which has been in businesses in the Central Valley for nearly 70 years. The facility will remain headquarters for LAKOS  with Cook Land Co. owning and managing the property. “We identified the LAKOS property as a great strategic addition in our commercial real estate portfolio, furthering our commitment to invest locally right here in the Central Valley,” said Todd Cook, partner at Cook Land Co. LAKOS has leased 78,000 square feet back from Cook Land Co., and an additional 15,000 square feet has been leased to Performance Contracting Inc., a Fresno construction company in business for more than 60 years.

Former Castle Air Force Base now used to test self-driving cars

The future of self-driving cars is becoming a reality in the North Valley. The former Castle Air Force Base is now a world-class testing facility for autonomous vehicles. The TRC California complex finished its $2.1 million expansion project in early August.

Since then, the testing field has attracted interest from the automotive industry. Manufacturers, suppliers, and innovators can use the 2.2-mile oval track to test drive their concepts and their vehicles. This is just the first phase for the facility. They will continue to focus on expanding testing capabilities for self-driving technology.

Prefab home company to build factory in Kern County

A prefab home startup has chosen Kern County as the site of its latest expansion. The Rialto-based Plant Prefab Inc. bills itself as part of the solution to California’s housing crunch. Offering high-quality, environmentally friendly homes to buyers, the company says it can meet the demands of the housing market faster and cheaper than traditional construction.

The company will take advantage of an Advance Kern tax incentive to launch the new factory that could employ up to 440 people per year. “Right now, it’s hard to get buildings built on time,” Plant Prefab Vice-President Josh Tech told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. “With our building system, we actually can do things much better, at a better quality than you can do at the site.”

Traditional home construction involves assembling all the pieces of a house on-site, while prefab construction involves building the components of a home in a factory to ship to the site for assembly. PPI recently announced $30 million in investment, including from the Amazon Alexa Fund. The company has two factories, in Rialto and Ontario, but the Kern County site is expected to be its biggest yet. “We build our product at a small scale in these two factories at the moment,” Tech said. “This new factory is going to be state-of-the-art, with automation, high-class material handling, those types of things that we can scale at a factor of 20 times what we’re doing now.” Kern is offering a tax rebate worth up to $6.6 million over 30 years — or $15,000 per each full-time job — to bring the company to the county. Plant Prefab must hire at least 50 full-time workers by June 30, 2023, to meet the agreement, and it plans to hire 100 to 150 in the first year of operation.

Advance Kern is the county’s primary method for attracting new businesses and helping others expand. The relatively new incentive has previously brought Amazon and Loreal Paris to Kern. As the county tries to diversify the local economy, it views the Plant Prefab deal as a win-win that is good for county workers and good for local investment. “This is an agreement that brings a company here that is an award-winning company, that has a super-great track record on how they compensate and manage their workforce,” said Kern County Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop. “They are really building a state-of-the-art product that lots of people are interested in. It’s the exact kind of company that we want to locate here in Kern County.”

In a state with ever-rising housing costs and developers who complain of regulations that slow down the pace of construction, prefab homes are seen by some as one solution. The technology has slowly advanced over the decades to a point where it is being seriously considered to address housing and labor shortages throughout the state. Andy Fuller, president of Fuller Apartment Homes and principal of Presidio Capital Partners, told The Californian homes are still able to be produced in Bakersfield cheaply and quickly using traditional construction, but coastal cities could see a big benefit from prefab designs. “It’s been 30 or 40 years in the making to this point, but it is definitely making more sense every year,” he said.

The county is even seeking Plant Prefab’s help in housing those experiencing homelessness. Sooner rather than later, more and more homes could be built using this method. “It’s a very good thing for Kern County and I think that location makes a lot of sense,” Fuller added. “I do think it is the future. Like any kind of business it has its challenges, but it’s been a long time in the making.”


When Tesla announced that Lathrop would be the site of a plant that manufactures parts for the company’s electric cars in Fremont back in 2014, nobody thought that it would be the beginning of a growing relationship between one of the world’s most closely-followed companies and the growing city. But on Monday the company officially broke ground on a project that will repurpose what was previously a J.C. Penney distribution center for a manufacturing facility for an entirely new product – a massive, trailer-sized battery that will be used not for cars or homes, but to store excess power from the power grid and funnel that power back when it is needed most.

For Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal, the announcement of the manufacturing facility for the Megapack – billed by the company as the largest, densest storage battery in the world – is another feather in the cap for the city. “Lathrop is proud to be the home of the Megafactory, Tesla’s most recent expansion here,” Dhaliwal said. “The future of green energy will be produced right here in our community. “This development means more opportunities for our residents, and a brighter future for our planet.” While the company – known the world over for its electric vehicles – has been in the home power storage space for some time, the Megapack will be different because of the unique role that it will play in promoting a greener world by improving power efficiency.

The storage system aims to “transform the way that utilities manage the power grid” by providing “emissions-free” energy when providers need it most – eliminating the need for traditional fossil fuel power plants that are commonly used to supplement shortages. While the delivery of electricity has become more efficient, the distribution of power across long distances often leads to overall loss – especially since traditional grids don’t have any place for excess power that isn’t needed to be stored. The Megapack solves this problem by allowing energy providers with the chance to store that excess power and send it back into the grid as it is needed – something that the company already does with its home-focused battery system that allows for excess power generated by solar panels to be stored and saved.

The facility in Lathrop will assemble and distribute the Megapack units around to locations around the world – including those that are utilized here in California – and will include over-the-air updates to the operating software for the units to maximize efficiency and continuously improve performance. The announcement in 2014 that Tesla would take over the shuttered Mopar distribution facility along I-5 made headlines around the country as the Silicon Valley company expanded its footprint beyond Fremont where it assembles most of its electric cars. But that was just the beginning for the growing South County city and one of the world’s most recognizable brands.

Tesla has since expanded its initial building’s footprint, and added other space including an 870,000 square foot distribution center behind the old Pilkington glass plant on Louise Avenue. A company that manufactures parts that are used in Tesla vehicles also opened a facility in Lathrop near the original Tesla building to help provide parts that are used in the manufacturing process. And for a time, Lathrop also housed thousands of Tesla vehicles that had been assembled in Fremont and were awaiting shipment to their final destination – renting space at the old Pilkington facility to temporarily stage the vehicles that were dropped off and hauled away by trailer.

According to Bloomberg News, the news that Tesla was expanding its operations in California was a welcome sign for the state after the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, slammed the state’s shutdown efforts early during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequently moved to Texas – which is now where the company plans to assemble the Model Y and Cybertruck vehicles. The move to build the Megapack in Lathrop, Bloomberg said, was seen as a sign that California remains a part of the company’s future.

Faraday Future Expands Global Hiring After Business Combination

Faraday Future Intelligent Electric Inc. (“FF”) (NASDAQ: FFIE), a California-based global shared intelligent mobility ecosystem company, today announced plans to increase its employee headcount significantly over the next 12 months following the Business combination closing in July of this year. New hiring will help support the launch of its ultimate intelligent techluxury all electric flagship vehicle FF 91 in 2022.

“We are looking forward to adding a diverse group of innovative, creative and driven people to our rapidly growing team,” said Global CEO of Faraday Future Carsten Breitfeld. “We now have the capability to significantly grow our company with employees passionate about transforming the auto industry and the future of mobility. For the right candidates, an immense amount of opportunity abounds. I welcome talented and passionate applicants who are motivated to help move the company forward together along with the entire FF team.”

Hiring efforts will focus on filling positions in the areas of manufacturing, engineering, supply chain, design, marketing, brand, sales and other areas, along with the potential of higher-level executive positions. These positions are located out of the company’s three California locations including at FF’s headquarters in Los Angeles, tech-focused offices in Silicon Valley, and the FF 91 manufacturing facility in Hanford. FF will soon announce several key operational-focused executives who are expected to join FF soon. FF is also hiring key-positions for its China operations as it gears up to deliver FF vehicles in that market.

Faraday Future’s Ultimate Intelligent Techluxury FF 91 Validates Production Timeline

Faraday Future Intelligent Electric Inc. (“FF”) (NASDAQ: FFIE), a California-based global shared intelligent mobility ecosystem company, today announced that it recently completed a 2,270-mile testing and evaluation journey following the historic Route 66, a highway that crosses numerous U.S. states as it winds its way from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California.

Real world vehicle testing and evaluation, which followed FF’s public listing on Nasdaq last month in NYC, put the ultimate intelligent techluxury FF 91 through multiple tests in various conditions including extreme heat through the desert and on multiple road surfaces including various elevations. The completion of this testing and evaluation of the many vehicle systems, including battery and propulsion components during the 2,270-mile journey further validates FF 91 production timeline.

“This testing journey along historic Route 66 allowed us to put FF 91 through many diverse environments and conditions found only in the central and southwest portions of the U.S. and allowed us to capture real world data on FF 91,” said FF Global CEO Dr. Carsten Breitfeld. “FF’s overall testing and validation strategy will ensure best-in-market performance, safety and user confidence, and to make sure the battery, electric propulsion, chassis, suspension and other vehicle systems perform under these harsh conditions, while also ensuring a smooth and comfortable and connected experience with the driver and passengers in the FF 91.”

The long-distance road test that FF conducted is a great opportunity to evaluate FF’s unique third internet living space concept in real usage scenarios before it begins production next year. Dr. Breitfeld, an engineer by trade, had an integral part of the Route 66 testing and drove much of the trip, he also used the rear intelligent internet system and in-car video conference system from the rear-seat to participate in daily FF meetings along the way.

FF 91 is equipped with interior cameras and microphones that support videoconferencing features. When the Rear Seat Display (RSD) is turned on, users can access their contacts through conferencing applications to keep connected with friends, family, or business associates while on the road. The applications will run natively on the in-vehicle computer and be mirrored to the users’ mobile devices for remote control.

During vehicle testing, engineers logged volumes of data on the vehicle’s chassis, thermal, electric propulsion performance, and all vehicle systems. They also optimized software controls performance and calibrations in real world conditions. This critical work is providing some of the final levels of development on FF 91’s systems, as FF advances to the final stages of its program and a timely launch. In the coming months, FF will build additional pre-production FF 91 vehicles for further testing, vehicle development, improvements, and final readiness for launch in 2022.

The FF 91 Futurist Alliance Edition and FF 91 Futurist models represent the next generation of intelligent internet electric vehicle (EV) products. They are high-performance EVs, all-ability cars, and ultimate robotic vehicles, allowing users to experience the third internet living space. The models also encompass extreme technology, an ultimate user experience and a complete ecosystem.

Both models have an industry-leading 1050 horsepower, a 130kWh battery pack with immersive liquid cooling technology and 0-60 mph performance in 2.4 seconds. In addition, both employ tri-motor torque vectoring and rear wheels independently driven and controlled by dual rear motors. Both models are also equipped with the industry‘s only super AP for internet connection at “light speed”, video streaming on the passenger information display, a rear intelligent internet system, an in-car video conferencing system, intelligent seamless entry, FFID face recognition, multi-touch eyes-free control, and zero gravity rear seats with the industry’s largest seating angle of 150 degrees.