Thursday, January 25, 2018

“The Future of Modular in the East” Symposium Wrap Up

I have hosted dozens of events for the modular housing industry across the East Coast, New England and the Midwest but yesterday’s Symposium in Lewisburg, PA marked a definite change in direction for all future events.

To paraphrase President Trump, “Let’s Make Modular Great Again”

Speaking to a SOLD OUT crowd, the speakers had quite the impact on what is needed to bring modular construction to the forefront in housing.
Colby Swanson of the Momentum Innovation Group started off the Symposium explaining that the world is changing quicker than anyone in the room could know. He presented a case for integration of production methods, working to incorporate off-site and on-site processes, using new products and installing new processes into an East Coast modular arena that thrives on building the best custom modular homes in the world. He showed us that there are processes and products in the pipeline right now that many of us thought were years in the future. The audience’s favorite was the company that grows bricks from organic material right at the jobsite as needed.
Up next was John Connell, an Architect Design/Builder who uses modular to build his creations. He is also the founder of Yestermorrow School in Vermont. You need to check out his school to fully appreciate what it does. John and I have been collaborating on a program to teach “New to Modular” off-site builders all the situations that arise when these builders decide to build their first modular home. There has never been a program like this and once implemented it should lower the number of off-site builders who build their first modular and find it totally different than site building a home, lose money on the house and decide to go back to site building, from about 80% to 20%. More trained modular builders means a stronger and greater modular market.
Rounding out the morning session was Dan Mitchell, owner of Eagle CDI, Inc, a builder in Tennessee, the past chairman of the Building Systems Council of the NAHB and this year’s S A Walters Award winner. Listening to Dan is like hearing about modular housing for the first time. He brings a true sense of pride to our industry. He had everyone in the room wanting to get into building modular. Wait a minute, we are modular builders. Sometimes it takes someone like Dan to reawaken that flame that has dimmed in many of us. He talked about the advantages and the problems facing our industry but by the time he finished I could have sold a ton of red hats touting “Let’s Make Modular Great Again”. The next time he speaks at one of my Symposiums I will be sure to have those hats ready and maybe a pile of T-shirts too. After a buffet lunch that defied every caloric guideline ever published, we settled in for an afternoon session that turned from the future of modular to something that is happening today. Energy and High Performance.
Rick Terry, owner of Eco-Haven and a top East Coast HERS rater for the modular industry, discussed the new code and requirements needed to get low HERS ratings for modular homes. I had no idea what half of it meant but the modular people that live with this every day were hanging on every word. His knowledge of this subject is something our industry finds invaluable. If you haven’t had an opportunity to hear him speak on this subject, there will be more chances later on when he talks at more of my events. He is a must hear speaker.
Rounding out the day was Harris Woodward, owner of FinishWerks, in Savage, MD. Over the years I have had the opportunity to watch him grow into one of the best authorities on High Performance Homes in the modular industry. The audience listened to his evolution through the process of finding the best wall and insulation methods to bring his HERS ratings lower and lower, saving his customers thousands of dollars on their energy bills. One thing I learned yesterday about High Performance is that just a 100 miles between two new modular homes can change the way walls should be built and insulated. There is no ‘one size fits all’. Harris has always been willing to help fellow modular home builders and factories design walls and procedures for them. There was one problem yesterday that I have never encountered before. Nobody wanted to leave after the Symposium. Instead people had all the speakers cornered and the networking that took place even surprised me. I want to thank all the sponsors that made this an absolute blast.

1 comment:

Harris - Finish Werks said...

Gary, you placed a spark in a fire that burns on the sidelines... deal with it.

This one put camping fuel on the fire of progress. 70 yrs old and progress...

Weird huh?... but you did it. Love you man