Geelong’s Ford factory remodelled as housing hub

February 15, 2024 BY

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles (centre), Lara MP Ella George and CLOS Founding director John Fitzgibbon tour the CLOS factory, located in the former Ford plant in North Geelong. Photo: ANGUS SMITH

GEELONG’s former Ford factory has been transformed into a hub for innovative housing solutions.

This redevelopment introduces a pioneering approach to construction, with Cross Laminated Offsite Solutions (CLOS) leading the charge by offering rapid, eco-friendly methods capable of producing homes at an unprecedented scale and speed.

The company can construct a two-bedroom home in the factory in about eight weeks but aims to slash that to 28 days by later this year.

CLOS Founding director John Fitzgibbon. Photo: ANGUS SMITH

Founding director John Fitzgibbon said the company had grown dramatically since its inception in 2017.

“I was involved in big construction for about 15 years, doing the same thing over and over again, and recognised that we needed to do things differently and also use sustainable materials.

“Post-COVID challenges like inflation and a shortage of skilled trades accelerated the demand for modular homes, capable of being constructed in half the traditional time.”

He said the factory floor was a bit like a Meccano set, where all the pieces are shaped and come together in a production line.

Equipment once used in car assembly has been repurposed for home construction.

“We build anything from one-bedroom dwellings, all the way to stacking 10 or 15 of them together to build a multi-level residential building,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

(L-R) CLOS Production Manager Darcy Thomson, CLOS Founding director John Fitzgibbon, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles (centre), and Lara MP Ella George tour the CLOS factory. Photo: ANGUS SMITH

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and Lara MP Ella George attended the companies open day last Friday.

“It’s a really impressive, innovative, Geelong business,” Mr Marles said.

“Given the need for housing around the country, it’s fantastic to see the innovation that is happening here.

“This is developing the skills that we need and producing housing that is desperately needed.”

(L-R) Lara MP Ella George, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, CLOS Founding director John Fitzgibbon, and Production Manager Darcy Thomson at the open day. Photo: ANGUS SMITH

Ms George praised CLOS’s impact on local employment and its role in positioning Geelong as a manufacturing leader.

“It’s inspiring to see such innovation in Geelong’s north, creating jobs and training opportunities for young people,” Ms George said.

“Geelong’s north is the future of manufacturing; there are so many exciting projects taking place here.”

The company celebrated its first public open day on Friday. Photo: ANGUS SMITH

Since relocating from a smaller site at Avalon Airport to the North Geelong site in June last year, CLOS has been on an upward trajectory.

With about 40 staff now, the company aims to expand to between 100 and 120 workers and produce about 500 homes annually by year’s end.

The company also provides prefabricated building elements, significantly reducing construction time.

“What used to take months can now be done in a week,” chief engineer Bernard Waschl said.