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Founders of Karoleena can finish a house in their factory in 6 months

The founders of Karoleena Inc. liken the components of their modernist, energy-efficient houses and cottages to big Lego blocks. “We design all of our homes using our ‘Lego’ blocks, and then they’re pieced together onsite,” says Kurt Goodjohn.

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The company, which was founded in 2006 and operates out of a 35,000-square-foot plant in Okanagan Falls, B.C., can complete most of its homes within six months after the design is approved. Homes are 80 per cent to 90 per cent finished when they ship from the plant, with a few more weeks of work needed onsite for assembly and finishings.

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The guys behind Karoleena, which has 24 employees plus subcontractors and mainly serves the Vancouver market, are Kurt Goodjohn, right, who founded the business with his brother Kris, far left, originally in Calgary, and James Rosowsky, the company’s CEO, centre.

Jeff Bassett/The Globe and Mail

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Besides speed, another advantage of building inside a factory is better quality control, says Kurt Goodjohn. He thinks Karoleena’s factory could max out at 20 to 25 homes a year.

Steve Dutcheshen Photography/Karoleena Inc.

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Mr. Goodjohn and his team would like to expand the business, but they are unsure how to go about it. “We can just continue doing what we’re doing and grow slowly, and maybe down the road we open another facility,” he says. The second: replicate Karoleena’s plant in four or five Canadian and U.S. markets and grow from there.

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The interior of another Karoleena home.

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Mr. Goodjohn, who believes Karoleena could eventually be a worldwide business, says the company would need substantial capital if it were to expand more quickly across Canada and the U.S. So far, the company has funded itself through sales, but he points to the success of its biggest rival, California-based Blu Homes, which has raised almost $200-million (U.S.) from investors.

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The interior of another Karoleena home.

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Mr. Goodjohn asks, “Do we want to grow really fast, or do we want to have it be somewhat of a lifestyle-[friendly] type business?”

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