Monday, December 12, 2011


I use LinkedIn quite a lot.  The other day I went into an industry forum there and posed a question that I hoped would generate a little discussion.  I got it.  Here is the question and some of the comments:

"Why is modular construction always thought of as an "Also Ran?"

From Scott F.
The integration of the modular industry into mainstream construction has always been a battle. There are a number of reasons why, but more often than not it is the lack of education nationally that continues to drive a poor perception of this method of construction. There are a number of factories that have and continue to market the customization and flexibility of system built construction and how it can stand alone and blend well with conventional building. This is more prevalent on both the east and west coasts and less so in the mid section of the country though. Again there are a number of reasons why that is, but in general most construction professionals outside the industry still view this method of building inferior and lacking. So until the mind’s eye of what one thinks of when you first mention modular changes, system built construction will always be only an alternative. 
Russel E.
There is a prejudice that exists in the site-built world that modular homes = trailer parks. Architects don't want to "stoop to that level." I agree that education is the way to remove this prejudice, but until a MAJOR construction project is completed with national attention, this method will remain "on the other side of the tracks" in the industry. 
James S.
In the new england market ( CT, MA, NH ME & RI ) buyers and custom home builders more educated than we perceive them to me. Like Russell said, there is a prejudice that exist nationally but there are pockets where the image of system built homes is not bad.
Companies such as Epoch Homes, Future Home Technology, Signature Building Systems and New England Homes are totally custom. There maybe limitations in a manufacturers "system approvals" but they vary according to the manufacturer. Epoch's reputation is building "mansions" utilizing system built technology.
Signature Building Systems, there isn't much those guys will not try to build. Rather it's a combination of modules and panelized construction or using steel beams to achieve maximum spans.
There are many ways to explain this building system without labeling it.
Eben P.
All about image, we need to educate people about the positive side of pre fab buildings , aggressive marketing and not hiding the the positive aspects. People need to look at stations at the poles operating in extreme conditions , unfortunately most are blindfolded! 
James S.
If the industry knows that concern buzz words as "modular" or 'prefab" offers a negative consumer perspective towards it's product. Then don't reference the term in any form of marketing or identity applications. I believe we can agree the problem isn't the building system. It's how the consumer identities with it's description of the product.
It's note worthy to identify the differences between manufactures that are totally custom and products from the manufactured home community. Manufactured homes have their place as they feel a need.
Which is all the more reason the industry should consider reaching out to naming solution companies that develop effective word terms and phrases. To clearly separate the two industries. They are very expensive but effective in developing models that overcome problematic identity problems with products.
Mohammed A K.
In this part of the world, there is a huge misconception, misunderstanding and confusion when it comes to Modular, prefab and precast!
I think it will take a while to adapt it. We are trying to introduce it on the commercial size and know the difficulty would be on the residential side.
John E.
All Great comments folks. It begs the question "What are YOU doing to educate those people with those misconceptions? Our Director of Business Development and myself did two presentations on the same day with two very large and reputable Construction Management groups. We presented Steel and Concrete modular focusing on low rise combustible buildings as well as mid and high rise projects (that's our niche). We presented to their operations, design, estimating and preconstruction leaders, and before we got out of their cities that evening we had emails form both of them with significant projects that they want to pursue building modular. I have worked in the mobile home, single family wood modular, multi-family wood modular, precast concrete, commercial modular and now steel and concrete modular areans since I was 18 years old. What is your niche? Are your a manufacturer, a dealer, a builder/dealer, a modular broker, a modular construction management company? Are you yourself a believer of modular or do you simply see it as a way to buy cheaper, build faster, build with less man power, or build with not having to do much because you throw it all back on the manufacture as their issue, or do you sell to a buyer and make them finish the product because you just want to be a middle man and take your cut? I will tell you the misconception start with US (we are already "IN" the modular business) so WE have to educate them. WE have to educate the people that will get committed to modular also, and not just try one house or project. It would be interesting to poll the people currently in the modular business, who they sell to. I will tell you that when I was a single family Salesperson for a modular manufacture I spent more time developing relationships with lager tract developers or builders that could buy larger volume. Unfortunately that takes time to bring them on board and change their old school ways (but you can't give up on them). So to get fast sales I set up smaller builders (and even sold to people that were part time builders). So when a recession hits, THEY GO OUT OF BUSINESS, because they are too small and that causes problems for a manufacturer. If manufacturers close their doors then dealers and builder/ dealers are limited as to whom to buy from, modular brokers and modular construction management companies have no one to promote. So to summarize my long story - if you are "IN" the modular business, then find your company's niche, pursue it and live it. Target the clientele that will make your business model grow and profitable

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

john is smart. The key is what are "you" doing. People need to stop whining about what the useless organizations need to do to get the word out. Successful companies will get their own word out.