Wednesday, February 11, 2015

5 Innovators of Modular Housing

Just 10 years ago if I were asked who the innovators of modular were the answer would roll off my tongue quickly. Today many of those same people, even though most are still in the industry, would not be mentioned.

It’s not that they aren’t doing good things and producing beautiful and quality modular homes, it’s that they haven’t been on the bleeding edge of innovation since the housing recession.

Even now innovation is not something you really see in our industry. But there are some people that are beginning to innovate.

I know there are many others but I’ve selected a few that stand out from the crowd.

Tom Hardiman:
Tom first came onto the residential side of modular construction about 2 years ago when he became the Executive Director of the Modular Home Builders Association, the MHBA. Since taking over the reins of the MHBA he has opened it up to modular home builders. Until then it had only been for the factory side of our industry.  He was and still is well known on the commercial side of modular as the driving force behind the Modular Building Institute.

He is the one we turn to when fighting government agencies to acknowledge modular housing as an accepted way to build housing. Too often before he arrived on the scene we were forced to just take it on the chin when an agency discriminated against us.

With his efforts we are beginning to win successes with these government agencies and opponents of modular housing. He and the MHBA ares becoming a force to reckoned with.

Andy Gianino
Sometimes a well recognized modular home builder becomes more than just a builder. Having written “The Modular Home” in 2005 and what many consider the Bible for modular home builders to read before getting into the business, he is now the ‘go to’ person when a builder has a question about our industry.

He is the owner of The Home Store in MA and wrote the book as his way of trying to enlighten people to the benefits of modular construction.

10 years later Andy is once again working hard to help builders. He has become the voice for change in our industry and thinks it’s time that we begin acting like the powerful part of new home building that is our destiny. He champions change in all aspects of our business and is gearing up to begin taking his campaign for improvement on the road.

He will be the guest speaker at several of my Builder Breakfasts in the near future.

Maura McCarthy
You might ask if I’ve lost my mind by including Maura in this list but you have to admit that she and her partner Bill Haney are setting modular housing on its ear.

Not that her company, Blu Homes, is taking over the industry but she has become the voice for modern modular homes especially in the West. She is also a master of marketing, leaving every other factory in the dust when it comes to innovation. Her ‘folding’ home is only one of her accomplishments.

Her ability to raise millions and millions of investment dollars is second to none in our industry. One of these days she and Bill will step forward with phase two of her marketing plan and the impact on our industry will be huge. Only problem is that nobody but her knows what she is planning or when.

Ken Semler
The owner of Express Modular has his eye on the ultimate prize in our industry; total domination. And he is well on his way to earning it.

Just a few short years ago he began offering modular homes over the Internet and his critics said that he was just trying to get people to build their own modular home.

Oh how times have changed. Ken not only dominates the Internet when it comes to selling modular homes, he is also licensed to build in just about every state with sales representatives serving every nook and cranny of America. He is a true modular home builder that uses the Internet as his personal sales generating machine.

Working with factories from Maine to California, Montana to Florida, he is rapidly becoming America’s modular home builder.

Steve Scheinkman
To say I was skeptical when I heard that Excel Homes was bringing in someone with absolutely no experience in modular housing is an understatement. I even wrote an article about his being a California guy and wondering if he could ever adjust to the rural Amish countryside of PA. Turns out my doubts were erased within a short time and Steve is now someone that everyone is looking to for our industry’s future.

Steve was the President and CEO of Excel Homes Group until 2013 when he became the Co-Managing Partner and Co-Owner of Innovative BuildingSystems, the parent company of Excel Homes, Mod-U-Kraf Homes, Keiser Homes, All American Homes and IDBS, the project side of the business. In the last year he added Future Home Technology and Handcrafted Homes to the growing IBS powerhouse of modular.

He spoke at my July Builder Breakfast and told us that our industry will always be an also ran if we don’t begin thinking and acting like the future of modern residential construction. With or without other factories helping, he is well on the way to making modular housing a great and popular alternative to site built housing.

I’m not privy to his future plans for IBS but I wouldn’t bet against him and his plans for improving modular factories across the US.


Tom said...

Thanks Gary. While I'm honored to be mentioned with such great company, I don't consider myself an innovator. In fact a lot of what we do at MHBA is very straightforward and direct - provide a valuable service at a fair rate, seek input from a variety of sources, follow up on what you commit to, and constantly look for ways to improve. Honored nonetheless. Tom

Anonymous said...

Anyone that has seen what you have done for the MHBA and your hard work for the modular housing will agree with Coach that you should be included in his list.