GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – A past relationship, a U.S. expansion and some cash from a big-name benefactor have jelled into a new corporate headquarters for Greensboro.

Vantem, a South America-based company that manufactures energy-efficient components for developers, only has an address in Greensboro but soon will have a whole lot more.

Vantem CEO Chris Anderson said his company will open its U.S. headquarters in Greensboro and then build a manufacturing facility somewhere in the region – which he defines as North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia – as part of a rollout across the U.S.

A hotel built by Vantem (VANTEM)

Vantem announced last week that it was expanding its footprint into the U.S. by constructing energy-efficient apartment buildings and single-family homes. The company says it has 3 million square feet of space in Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and the Caribbean.

It was Anderson who brought the past relationship that helped make this deal emerge.

He lived in Greensboro while owning a company in furniture and wood products. “I sold out before entering this business. This is my second start-up,” he said by phone from Montevideo, Uruguay, where he said it was cold on a winter’s night.

“That aside, it’s really an underappreciated city in terms of quality of life and what city has to offer.”

This is how a hotel in Uruguay came together. (VANTEM)

In June, Vantem announced it was investing $10.1 million. And Anderson said his company had received an infusion of cash from Breakthrough Energy, the climate-change fund established by Bill Gates. He declined to reveal the amount.

The company’s filing documents show that it incorporated in North Carolina on May 17, and it lists its principal address as 806 Green Valley Road, Suite 200, in Greensboro. The corporate office would employ about 20, he said.

A view inside of one of Vantem’s factories. (VANTEM)

They would handle tasks such as:

  • Accounting and finance.
  • Logistics and supply chain management.
  • Sales and marketing.
  • Manufacturing supervision.
  • Quality control supervision.

But he said Vantem wants to have 15 manufacturing facilities across the U.S. to build units for specific developers that the company says would “reduce costs, construction time, and the carbon footprint of their developments, including building affordable net-zero-energy structures.”

He said he would construct a factory that would employ about 150, but where it goes remains to be seen. The facility could be in any of the three states, and he hasn’t had the conversations with local commerce officials who might provide incentives.

“We will engage with local officials to see where is the best place to put the factory,” he said.

He said when Vantem opens a factory that it does so with a contracted agreement with at least one developer that is building houses and apartments in the area.

Vantem has rolled out more than 3 million installed feet. (VANTEM)

“When we set up factories, we are looking not only labor pool but an actual partner,” Anderson said. “We want a large developer or several developers to be shareholders. We produce products for developers to use in their developments.

“All their construction happens inside a factory rather than the risks of a job site. This reduces costs and times for them and gives us a secure market.”

He said he already had partnerships in four U.S. regions of the 15 where Vantem wants to open. And Greensboro will be the hub of that growth.

“I’m looking to come back to Greensboro,” he said.