Chattanooga Times Free Press

Tiny homes manufacturer bringing jobs to Cleveland


An Apison builder of tiny homes is expanding its market and production capabilities by building a new $15 million factory in Cleveland that is expected to add 77 more jobs by the end of next year.

Wind River Custom Homes LLC, which was started nearly a decade ago by Travis Pyke after he built his own 200-square-foot cabin in 2013, is growing its tiny homes business by erecting a 92,000-square-foot production facility in the Cleveland/ Bradley County Industrial Park. The new plant, which has been under construction since May, will boost production of the factory-built homes and help expand the business into a broader line of manufactured homes, Pyke said.

“When we decided to expand into the modular housing market, we knew we needed a location that would be conducive for transportation logistics as well as providing a strong workforce for trade skills,” Pyke said Tuesday in an announcement of the new plant. “We found the perfect combination right here in South Cleveland.”

Wind River specializes in designing and manufacturing park model recreational vehicles, and after the expansion, will add larger manufactured homes and grow its staff to about 120 employees, according to an announcement Tuesday.

Pyke, the company’s chief design officer and CEO, said the

company has built homes since 2014 that are recreational vehiclepark model homes, which have 400 or less square feet and are built on trailer beds for transport. With the home building business having grown and taken on new investors, Pyke said Wind River is now preparing to also enter into modular home building, based upon the building codes of the states where the homes will be sited.

The manufactured homes will be transported to the home site via trailer and then placed on a permanent foundation, which qualifies such homes for more conventional home loans and financing options. Pyke said the company plans to start building the first of its new modular homes next month at its existing 11,000-square-foot plant in Apison, “and right now we’re tentatively booked with over 100 modular-built units going into 2025.”

To meet such demand, the company and its investors spent more than $15 million to acquire 31 acres in the Cleveland industrial park and build the new production facility, which Pyke said should be completed and in operation by next spring. The new manufactured homes will be built as 600-square-foot modules, in most instances, and may be combined for larger homes.

“Right now, our biggest market is for vacation homes, but there are a handful that are using our tiny homes as primary residents, either as empty nesters or as a starter home,” Pyke said. “We’re eager to now begin to work with more cities and developers interested in alternative-type housing that is more affordable. Our units have a smaller footprint, but they are still premium, craftsmen-built so that more people can get into a newly constructed home.”

Depending on the finishes and size, most of the Wind River homes will be priced below $200,000 for smaller units and below $300,000 for larger units.

“Once we reach scale and are doing more units, I hope we can get even more affordable,” Pyke said.

The median sales price for a new house was $436,700 in July 2023, according to the National Association of Home Builders.


The existing Apison plant will continue operating until the new plant is finished. It will continue to be used as a welding and frame shop, Pyke said. The new Cleveland facility will significantly boost the current production of about 30 housing units a year.

“I’m excited to be putting down roots that will have a positive impact in the community, in both job and career opportunities, and in fostering lasting relationships with our neighbors and local businesses,” Pyke said.

The new plant was announced Tuesday by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the state agency that will provide training assistance for new workers hired at the growing business. In a statement Tuesday, Gov. Bill Lee thanked Wind River for expanding in Tennessee.

“Tennessee’s exceptional business climate and workforce attract and support top-notch companies, and our quality of life keeps them here,” Lee said in a news release.

The new project will not receive any immediate property tax breaks from the city of Cleveland or Bradley County. But the mayors of both governments said in a statement Tuesday they “have worked hard to create an environment that can nurture and sustain a manufacturing sector, and Wind River is another step forward in our effort to secure the most diverse manufacturing economy in the state of Tennessee.

“Wind River produces a unique alternative to traditional housing that has the potential to play a significant role in solving our national housing crisis with plans to expand their offerings through the design and development of modular home design and construction,” Bradley County Mayor Gary Davis and Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks said in a joint statement.


Doug Berry, vice president of economic development for the Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce who helped negotiate the sale of the industrial site, said Wind River should help meet a growing demand for alternative and lower-priced new housing and aid in the overall economic growth in the region with operations in both Hamilton and Bradley counties.

The project is the 14th new major business announcement in Bradley County since August 2022. Those projects will add more than $791 million of new investment and create up to 2,528 jobs in the Cleveland area by 2030.

In the past 15 months, Bradley County has landed more than $4.6 billion of new business investment, which is projected to add 5,733 more jobs, Berry said.