Made in Michigan: Shipping Container Homes

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FLINT (WJRT) - (05/03/17) - It's a Flint-based manufacturer is aiming to alter the housing market in a big way.

"Certainly this is an industry that needs to be disrupted, that isn't being disrupted and can be disrupted by the same people in the same city that did it for the automotive industry," said Bob Waun, CEO and president of 3C Ventures Flint.

Since February, C3 UP, a division of C3 Ventures Flint, has been taking shipping containers that have sailed across the ocean and has been transforming them into houses.

"It's the coolest thing ever, right? Not many people can say they're doing that and we're very proud to say we're doing this in Michigan, and here in Flint especially," said Drake Boroja, CEO and President of C3 UP.

This is all happening at the old Dupont factory, located off of James P. Cole Boulevard, inside a facility that had sat empty for more than 15 years.

"Our plant is luckily right off the corner of the Buick City plant where 35,000 people once worked and they pumped out cars every hour. We hope we can pump out houses every day," Waun said.

Single unit container homes sell at a starting price of around $25,000. In the first three months, 13 were sold, with the first being placed nearby in Ferndale.

"We have so many people living in apartments today that want to move and buy a house. It's also for that young couple that is still living with their parents," Waun said.

C3 manufactures higher end and larger scale models as well.

"As people look at these, there are some people with million dollar appetites who want to build shipping container houses too," Waun said.

That goes back to what Waun says is his mission to 'disrupt' the housing market at all levels.

"I think a lot of Americans are talking about living in their house and not living for their house. The idea that we can have smaller, more efficient and affordable housing is great on the surface, but even for a luxury product, we don't need as big of a house as we once did."

Waun's philosophy involves giving people more for their money.

"I don't want to build a $50,000 house. I want to build a $100,000 house for $50,000," he said.

So far, C3 has made homes and taken inquiries from customers in places like Chicago, New Orleans, Lake Tahoe, the Florida keys and even Alaska - all areas that present unique climates and weather challenges.

"You start with a metal box that's meant to go through typhoons and withstand all the elements and keep the product inside dry," Waun said.

Shipping container housing production has led to the creation of at least 25 jobs in Flint, with more to come. With I-69 and 75 intersecting nearby, the owners believe the old Buick City area provides the perfect place for fixing the housing industry.

"As I look due east, I'm looking at Toronto. As I look west, I'm looking at the west coast of America. It's a great logistic spot and it's why GM was here," Waun said.

C3 isn't limiting itself to houses; it's already evolved into manufacturing pop up storefronts and more.

"We're in the process of building a barbeque spot, Mustang Jane's. It'll be in downtown Pontiac," Boroja said.

The company has also made a mobile unit for a Michigan-based dance company.

“It was featured on HGTV, it was on episode four of Container Homes," Boroja said.

As far as C3's future plans for these shipping containers homes and businesses are concerned, there’s are some interesting plans in the works.

"I can't talk about it yet, but it's really very exciting to think that not only will they be made in Flint, but that they'll be made from recycled materials here in Flint as well," Waun said.

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