Bringing it All Back Home: VCLF Borrower KAD Arrives in Vermont

In their specialized corner of Silicon Valley’s high-tech hotbed, advanced machining firm KAD Models & Prototypes has been developing into a business to watch. But their latest move - locating KAD’s new satellite production facility in CEO Brian Kippen’s native Vermont - could prove to be their best yet.

KAD has become a go-to supplier for high-profile clients like Google, Apple, Tesla and others throughout Northern California’s booming aerospace, medical, automotive, and consumer electronics sectors. “We do silicone molding for medical devices, like replacement valves for heart surgery, ‘O’ rings and silicon parts for electronics, and low-volume production mold-making with urethane,” Brian says, providing just a partial list of KAD’s specialties. “But we can’t tell you what we create for Google or any of our clients. That’s confidential.”

However, he can tell you “We get our clients’ products to market faster: a two-week turnaround, versus our competitors’ twenty-week timeline.” Brian seems always to have been laser-focused on this career. Moving to Northern California landed him a plum position at a prestigious design-build company. “Simultaneously, I did small prototype manufacturing and pre-production on my own.” He then worked on prototyping consumer electronics at a new firm, where he quickly advanced to Director of Operations. By 2012, Brian was ready to buy out the firm’s other partner and
launch KAD, which stands for “Kippen and Dog,” a reference to Brian’s beloved canine “staffer,” Atlas.

By 2019, KAD could boast roughly $1.5 million in sales. Brian was geared up for expansion and in search of a second facility. “You can only capture so much market when you’re in a single location,” he explains. Detroit and Philadelphia were under consideration. “But then,” Brian pauses, then adds, “I was back in Vermont for a friend’s 40th birthday and as I was driving up Route 14 in East Randolph, I saw it.” ‘It’ was the “For Sale” sign hanging in front of the 90-year-old, vacant L.W. Greenwood & Sons tractor manufacturing facility.

If hiring in the Bay Area was complicated by its sky-high cost of living, the Randolph area was more than affordable. And it was home to Vermont Technical College, with its newly-expanded advanced manufacturing program to provide a steady pool of qualified candidates. (Brian was also well-acquainted with Vermont’s lifestyle and many other assets.)

By the time Brian arrived back in California, the Vermont real estate agency and Randolph community officials had responded to his email inquiries about the property. “When I was trying to communicate with (officials in) Detroit, it took three months!” he says with a laugh.

Not long after, his purchase offer was accepted. Brian hoped the East Randolph facility would be operational in record time; all he needed was a loan to help get the facility online. But by now, the world was in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Progress stalled. Production deadlines loomed.

“It was clear that we really needed to get some additional funding to get things going again,” Brian recalls. “We started talking to the Loan Fund.” Brian and KAD’s Chief Operating Officer & co-owner Kacie Merchand (also a native Vermonter) brought the Loan Fund into the mix of financial institutions. VCLF’s lending team was able to move forward quickly to get them the financing they needed to continue with the site’s environmental remediation, final equipment purchases, and everything else. KAD’s first East Coast project was due days later. It was delivered on time.

With his Vermont facility now up and running, Brian anticipates hiring as many as 14 new programmers and machine operators over the next two years. “None of this has been simple, but I couldn’t imagine being able to do this at all in California,” Brian says, crediting the greater Randolph community, the State of Vermont and the Vermont Community Loan Fund with pulling together, and pulling it off. “It was a complicated timeline for a purchase. VCLF was very responsive to all the complications and really brought us peace of mind.” kadmodels.com


In the third quarter of 2020, Vermont Community Loan Fund also provided financing to:

Burkeside Child Care, Burke
Early care & learning professional Amber Bollman is well-known and-respected in Vermont’s ECL community. She previously borrowed from VCLF to repair the septic system at her high-quality, registered home-based program; her new loan will replace aging roofing and siding. The loan preserves care for ten Caledonia County children and families. facebook.com/Burkeside-Child-Care-141259176588317

Butterfly Bakery of Vermont, Montpelier
Crafter of artisanal baked goods, condiments and hot sauces, Butterfly Bakery of Vermont first came to VCLF in 2017 for financing to purchase a new stove and other production equipment. BBV again approached the Loan Fund earlier this year for help financing a larger manufacturing facility to keep pace with their recent growth. The loan preserves 10 full-time and 10 part-time jobs, with three more full-time and six temporary positions planned. butterflybakeryvt.com

Calabash Gardens, Wells River
After years of running farms with diversified crops, Calabash Gardens’ owners purchased their 51-acre property in 2018 to cultivate saffron, the much-prized culinary spice derived from crocus flowers. While saffron has traditionally been sourced from abroad, the rise in demand for local foods has led to increased interest in domestically-grown saffron, and Vermont has been recognized as well-suited for its cultivation. Calabash has established relationships with high-profile restaurants, distributors and gourmet shops throughout the Northeast. They’ll use VCLF financing to purchase organic saffron bulbs. The loan preserves two full-time jobs, with four new seasonal jobs anticipated. calabashgardens.com

Green & Gold CSA, Sudbury
Paige Wener grows organic vegetables and raises laying hens, selling via farmers’ markets, wholesale accounts and through the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program she runs from her 55-acre farm. Having recently acquired this land, Paige used a VCLF loan to help finance out-building construction, new equipment, tools, and other infrastructure. The loan preserves one full-time job, with two additional jobs to be created by 2021. greenandgoldcsa.com

Lamoille Housing Partnership, Morrisville
Nonprofit Lamoille Housing Partnership is responsible for hundreds of affordable homes throughout Lamoille County and the neighboring town of Hardwick. Across three decades, many of these housing developments have been collaborative projects involving VCLF financing. With the COVID-19 crisis causing delays in revenue, state funding and scheduling, LHP approached the Loan Fund for a line of credit to bridge project expenses with future revenues, so development can continue despite the pandemic.lamoillehousing.org

Some Dude’s Compost Company, South Burlington
With Vermont’s new Universal Recycling and Compost Law now in place, Some Dude’s Compost Company began operations offering curbside compost pick-up services throughout Chittenden County. When owner Isaac Colby’s client base quickly jumped by 300%, he came to VCLF for a loan to purchase a high-walled trailer, replacing a smaller vehicle and allowing for increased hauling capacity. The loan preserves one full-time job, with the creation of another full-time job expected. somedudescompost.com

Windham & Windsor Housing Trust, Bellows Falls
The historic, downtown Bellows Falls Garage property had long been neglected and become dilapidated. Longtime Loan Fund partner Windham & Windsor Housing Trust used VCLF financing to convert this blighted property into a highly energy-efficient residential building, creating six affordable rental homes and 32 construction jobs. homemattershere.org


Bringing it All Back Home: VCLF Borrower KAD Arrives in Vermont

In their specialized corner of Silicon Valley’s high-tech hotbed, advanced machining firm KAD Models & Prototypes has been developing into a business to watch. But their latest move - locating KAD’s new satellite production facility in CEO Brian Kippen’s native Vermont - could prove to be their best yet.

KAD has become a go-to supplier for high-profile clients like Google, Apple, Tesla and others throughout Northern California’s booming aerospace, medical, automotive, and consumer electronics sectors. “We do silicone molding for medical devices, like replacement valves for heart surgery, ‘O’ rings and silicon parts for electronics, and low-volume production mold-making with urethane,” Brian says, providing just a partial list of KAD’s specialties. “But we can’t tell you what we create for Google or any of our clients. That’s confidential.”

However, he can tell you “We get our clients’ products to market faster: a two-week turnaround, versus our competitors’ twenty-week timeline.” Brian seems always to have been laser-focused on this career. Moving to Northern California landed him a plum position at a prestigious design-build company. “Simultaneously, I did small prototype manufacturing and pre-production on my own.” He then worked on prototyping consumer electronics at a new firm, where he quickly advanced to Director of Operations. By 2012, Brian was ready to buy out the firm’s other partner and
launch KAD, which stands for “Kippen and Dog,” a reference to Brian’s beloved canine “staffer,” Atlas.

By 2019, KAD could boast roughly $1.5 million in sales. Brian was geared up for expansion and in search of a second facility. “You can only capture so much market when you’re in a single location,” he explains. Detroit and Philadelphia were under consideration. “But then,” Brian pauses, then adds, “I was back in Vermont for a friend’s 40th birthday and as I was driving up Route 14 in East Randolph, I saw it.” ‘It’ was the “For Sale” sign hanging in front of the 90-year-old, vacant L.W. Greenwood & Sons tractor manufacturing facility.

If hiring in the Bay Area was complicated by its sky-high cost of living, the Randolph area was more than affordable. And it was home to Vermont Technical College, with its newly-expanded advanced manufacturing program to provide a steady pool of qualified candidates. (Brian was also well-acquainted with Vermont’s lifestyle and many other assets.)

By the time Brian arrived back in California, the Vermont real estate agency and Randolph community officials had responded to his email inquiries about the property. “When I was trying to communicate with (officials in) Detroit, it took three months!” he says with a laugh.

Not long after, his purchase offer was accepted. Brian hoped the East Randolph facility would be operational in record time; all he needed was a loan to help get the facility online. But by now, the world was in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Progress stalled. Production deadlines loomed.

“It was clear that we really needed to get some additional funding to get things going again,” Brian recalls. “We started talking to the Loan Fund.” Brian and KAD’s Chief Operating Officer & co-owner Kacie Merchand (also a native Vermonter) brought the Loan Fund into the mix of financial institutions. VCLF’s lending team was able to move forward quickly to get them the financing they needed to continue with the site’s environmental remediation, final equipment purchases, and everything else. KAD’s first East Coast project was due days later. It was delivered on time.

With his Vermont facility now up and running, Brian anticipates hiring as many as 14 new programmers and machine operators over the next two years. “None of this has been simple, but I couldn’t imagine being able to do this at all in California,” Brian says, crediting the greater Randolph community, the State of Vermont and the Vermont Community Loan Fund with pulling together, and pulling it off. “It was a complicated timeline for a purchase. VCLF was very responsive to all the complications and really brought us peace of mind.” kadmodels.com


In the third quarter of 2020, Vermont Community Loan Fund also provided financing to:

Burkeside Child Care, Burke
Early care & learning professional Amber Bollman is well-known and-respected in Vermont’s ECL community. She previously borrowed from VCLF to repair the septic system at her high-quality, registered home-based program; her new loan will replace aging roofing and siding. The loan preserves care for ten Caledonia County children and families. facebook.com/Burkeside-Child-Care-141259176588317

Butterfly Bakery of Vermont, Montpelier
Crafter of artisanal baked goods, condiments and hot sauces, Butterfly Bakery of Vermont first came to VCLF in 2017 for financing to purchase a new stove and other production equipment. BBV again approached the Loan Fund earlier this year for help financing a larger manufacturing facility to keep pace with their recent growth. The loan preserves 10 full-time and 10 part-time jobs, with three more full-time and six temporary positions planned. butterflybakeryvt.com

Calabash Gardens, Wells River
After years of running farms with diversified crops, Calabash Gardens’ owners purchased their 51-acre property in 2018 to cultivate saffron, the much-prized culinary spice derived from crocus flowers. While saffron has traditionally been sourced from abroad, the rise in demand for local foods has led to increased interest in domestically-grown saffron, and Vermont has been recognized as well-suited for its cultivation. Calabash has established relationships with high-profile restaurants, distributors and gourmet shops throughout the Northeast. They’ll use VCLF financing to purchase organic saffron bulbs. The loan preserves two full-time jobs, with four new seasonal jobs anticipated. calabashgardens.com

Green & Gold CSA, Sudbury
Paige Wener grows organic vegetables and raises laying hens, selling via farmers’ markets, wholesale accounts and through the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program she runs from her 55-acre farm. Having recently acquired this land, Paige used a VCLF loan to help finance out-building construction, new equipment, tools, and other infrastructure. The loan preserves one full-time job, with two additional jobs to be created by 2021. greenandgoldcsa.com

Lamoille Housing Partnership, Morrisville
Nonprofit Lamoille Housing Partnership is responsible for hundreds of affordable homes throughout Lamoille County and the neighboring town of Hardwick. Across three decades, many of these housing developments have been collaborative projects involving VCLF financing. With the COVID-19 crisis causing delays in revenue, state funding and scheduling, LHP approached the Loan Fund for a line of credit to bridge project expenses with future revenues, so development can continue despite the pandemic.lamoillehousing.org

Some Dude’s Compost Company, South Burlington
With Vermont’s new Universal Recycling and Compost Law now in place, Some Dude’s Compost Company began operations offering curbside compost pick-up services throughout Chittenden County. When owner Isaac Colby’s client base quickly jumped by 300%, he came to VCLF for a loan to purchase a high-walled trailer, replacing a smaller vehicle and allowing for increased hauling capacity. The loan preserves one full-time job, with the creation of another full-time job expected. somedudescompost.com

Windham & Windsor Housing Trust, Bellows Falls
The historic, downtown Bellows Falls Garage property had long been neglected and become dilapidated. Longtime Loan Fund partner Windham & Windsor Housing Trust used VCLF financing to convert this blighted property into a highly energy-efficient residential building, creating six affordable rental homes and 32 construction jobs. homemattershere.org


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