"ND" could boost business for local business

A manufactured housing company in Elkhart County is betting on “ND” to boost business.

In this case, ND stands for North Dakota, not Notre Dame.

While Heckaman Homes in Nappanee is a heck of a long way from places like Williston, North Dakota, the two have suddenly developed some close business ties.

“I’ve been in the business 15 years, I've seen some booms in areas, I haven't seen one like this,” said Heckaman Homes Sales Manager Jeff Tanner.

North Dakota’s boom has been inspired by oil production. The state’s unemployment rate is the lowest in the nation at 3.5 percent. Some 40,000 new high paying jobs have been created there by the oil industry since 2011.

The situation makes it hard to fill positions in other fields, including openings in home building.

“You used to get paid for being a simple carpenter out there, you can now make three times that working in the oil industry,” said Tanner. “When you take a carpenter’s wage over several months it takes to build one of these houses, what the carpenter gets out there, we're going to save them a lot of money.”

By the end of 2013, Heckaman Homes hopes to sell and ship up to 150 manufactured homes to customers in North Dakota. The boost comes at a time when the housing market in general is sluggish.

“We hired more crews, they're willing to be on the road, and we just decided we need to service more of the area,” said Tanner. “And we could easily see it making up a third or more of our business before this year is over.”

Officials at High Tech Housing in Bristol tell NewsCenter 16 that they have shipped some commercial buildings to drill sites in North Dakota, and are working to take part in some larger commercial projects.

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