Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Top Six “Off-Site Construction Influencers” of 2020

Nobody ever wakes up in the morning and says “Today I will influence an entire industry” but in my opinion, these six people certainly have done just that.

Innovators, disruptors, marketers and gurus seem to be popping up everywhere these days but I want the Off-Site Construction Industry to know about the hard work and effort these “Influencers” are doing to bring real change to our industry.

Here are the Modcoach "Top 6 Influencers of 2020".

Dennis Steigerwalt

Dennis Steigerwalt, President of the Housing Innovation Alliance (HIA), headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA has already led a number of unique international and domestic market engagement programs focused on changing the way the homebuilding industry thinks, feels, and acts related to providing housing and integrating fully integrated offsite construction solutions into their businesses. 

From 2011 to 2018, he worked in Saudi Arabia promoting technology transfer to accelerate the adoption of modern methods of construction and advanced building products and technologies across the Gulf Region.  This was in the form of establishing globally recognized industry collaborations, led on behalf of SABIC, the largest publicly traded company in Saudi Arabia at the time, and the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Housing’s Building Technology Stimulus Initiative. 

In 2019, he arrived in Pittsburgh and accepted a position at the Housing Innovation Alliance with the intent to scale the organizations’ impact on the industry by expanding the breadth and depth of our Community and fine-tuning our market engagement activities to power volume builders to build better, delivering a better finished product at a price consumers can afford while enabling builders and their value chain to thrive as businesses.  These activities focus on advancing the homebuilding industry by looking through three lenses: Business Models, Customer Engagement, and Delivery Methods.

Offsite construction has long been a cornerstone of the programming at the Housing Innovation Alliance and over the past 18 months, the team continued to emphasize the importance of this concept to the industry by showcasing these innovations and the partnerships driving them forward. 

He and the HIA have been the linchpins to drive the off-site industry towards increased productivity, better quality, and less waste. They create tools, such as the Offsite Heatmap and BIM Roadmap, to provide for better decision-making and strategic capital allocations at the corporate level and in the field.  They find segments where these innovations can be pulled through like never before, such as leveraging the built-for-rent boom to scale adoption of new building practices and technologies that will spill over into the single-family for sale category.


He is an Influencer!   An expert at driving market transformation programs, he knows people, business, and how to get things done.  This is why in June 2019 Dennis was selected to become the new president of the Housing Innovation Alliance, a nationwide community for new thinking in production homebuilding, where he leads business strategy, market engagement, and program development. 


He has also elevated industry engagement - leading the team through a number of live and virtual industry events. Under his leadership, the Alliance’s digital content development and online engagement grew significantly.


He is a GLOBAL INNOVATOR. Prior to the Alliance, Dennis enthusiastically joined IBACOS on an ambitious crusade – eventually taking over all international programs and leading the IBACOS team working to advance residential construction by securing c-level buy-in from organizations in 28 countries – to drive innovation and help change the face of the housing industry in the Middle East through two key initiatives: Saudi Arabia Ministry of Housing’s Building Technology Stimulus Initiative (BTSI) and SABIC’s Home of Innovation™ program. 


In BTSI, Dennis helped to create a nationwide program to develop a modular housing industry—modeling 26 strategic initiatives that would jumpstart the creation of a robust construction ecosystem, evaluating 200+ global technology providers, and securing initial approval for $4B in government investment. Within one year, the commitment grew to $40B. 


Dennis was also a key player in SABIC’s award-winning “Home of Innovation” program, a $30M multi-year market engagement program focused on encouraging collaboration among the housing value chain and ensuring that better construction practices are adopted throughout the region. Together with his team, Dennis established and managed a global ecosystem of more than 1,000 subject matter experts, including 46 leading manufacturer partners. The program resulted in the Middle East’s first LEED platinum home, a pilot community of 1,200 LEED Silver homes and a LEED gold interactive exhibition center, which has become the epicenter for collaboration in the region. As of 2019, the program yielded 100+ business opportunities with more than $500M in new value creation. 


He LOVES HOUSING. Before and after going global, Dennis acted as a consultant to developers of residential and mixed-use real estate projects in southwestern PA, several of which are considered pioneering examples of placemaking in North America—including Edgewater, Venango Trails and Newbury.  Dennis is also a full member of ULI and EEBA.


He LIVES LIFE.  Dennis lives in Pittsburgh/Oakmont, PA and enjoys big adventures with his wife and two sons on the water and in the mountains. In his spare time he supports the efforts of other entrepreneurs—advising and investing in their start-up companies in business opportunities ranging from Proptech (MIGHTY, Local Logic) to Contech (Rheia) to Finance (Iron Condor) to CPG (Supplying Demand, Fifth Season). For more on Dennis’ personal story, you can listen to an interview with Chris Gassman on his podcast Doing Well by Doing Good.


He’s ALWAYS GROWING.  Dennis graduated cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 2003 with a dual major in Finance and Accounting and remains actively involved by supporting international alumni relations and participating as a guest lecturer for the Katz Graduate School of Business.  Throughout his career he’s been invited to participate as speaker and panelist at various industry events in the United States, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. 


He GIVES BACK. He currently supports community building through urban infill development projects to reactivate distressed neighborhoods in partnership with local community development groups. He and his wife actively support the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Free Care Fund through event committees and fundraising efforts.


Dave Cooper

Dave Cooper is one of those people that nobody saw coming as an influencer in the off-site construction industry with the possible exception of me. About 4 years ago I was watching some videos of this guy and his wife, Jennifer, posting some promotional videos for the modular home builder they worked for in New England.

Nobody was doing much of that at the time and I wrote an article about the “new star” of modular video. Little did I realize that today Dave would be influencing the entire off-site industry with his Vlogging efforts.

DaveCooper.Live is an editorial series for innovators and about innovation in new home construction. It’s a behind-the-scenes conversation with builders, bankers, business owners and all-around smart people changing the way we build. It’s for anyone who wants to build a better product or find a smarter process. 

He is a huge advocate of Offsite Construction with 20 years of experience in the world of Modular Construction who believes in strategic planning, entrepreneurship, core values, team building, process, defining and finding success.

At DaveCooper.Live, his and Jennifer’s goal is to engage with industry thought leaders, share their stories and move forward the conversation around disruption in the new home construction industry. With the use of video and in an unscripted, real-life approach, he connects leading experts with new partners and resources to drive change and grow their respective businesses. The conversations are genuine, thoughtful and get to the heart of “why” we do what we do, not just the “what” of what we do.

Within the niche marketplace of offsite construction, Dave Cooper introduces the community of innovators across multiple channels of the housing industry. He invites collaboration to drive change within the traditional methods of construction. Through his and Jennifer’s work on HerStories in Housing, their goal is to drive inclusivity and momentum. And his series on NextGen Leaders is reaching a new audience of builders, suppliers, manufacturers, and industry experts.

Ken Semler

Ken Semler, President/CEO of Impresa Modular, made the Modcoach list of influencers because of all that he has accomplished for the modular housing industry and his willingness to share his knowledge with anyone that asks him about modular.

He has contributed much to the Off-site construction industry over the past years. He is in a unique position as the only nationwide modular builder in the country and heavily promotes the industry wherever he goes.

He writes weekly articles on the industry that he publishes on his Impresa Modular blog, LinkedIn, where he has over 13,000 followers, and a realtor site, ActiveRain.com.

He speaks at the NAHB IBS yearly doing 3 to 5 presentations promoting modular construction across many sectors as well as webinars promoting modular construction with various organizations such as the GreenBuild Institute, the NAHB, and various podcasters and entities.

Ken works as a leader in the Modular Home Builders Association (MHBA) as the current Treasurer and as the incoming Vice President and supports the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Building Systems Council (BSC) as the immediate past chair and Board of Trustees member. He is the current National Director for the NAHB for my local Home Builder Association and serves on the Board of Directors for the Maryland Building Performance Association (MDBPA)


His work with approximately 25 modular factories across the country allows him to talk with factory owners, GM’s, Sales Managers and modular home builders in every region of the country and all their different situations relating to modular construction.

Ken recently created franchising within the modular construction industry and has it rolled out in 42 states. He has changed the way factories and builders view their prospects for growth within the modular home industry recently developed a new methodology for doing modular design and build using his proprietary MODULARIZE™ Design Methodology for offsite construction. 

Ken is growing www.ImpresaModular.com and will continue to be an influencer in the modular industry for many years to come.

Jon Hannah-Spacagna

Jon Hannah-Spacagna is the Modular Building Institute Government Affairs Director. I was introduced to his efforts on behalf of the modular industry just recently and wondered how many people actually know he is working hard behind the scenes to influence how government agencies look at modular construction. 

In 2020 Jon continued to pursue relationships with federal, state, provincial, and local housing authorities to promote modular as a more viable solution for housing needs.  Jon’s efforts helped lead to the publication of Fannie Mae’s Lenders Toolkit for Multifamily Modular as well as the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation’s recent decision to fund $1 billion in new modular housing.  Jon oversees MBI’s lobbying efforts in Washington D.C., New York and California and has directed our lobbyists to focus on housing opportunities.  

Jon has worked in government affairs for over 20 years. Prior to joining the Modular Building Institute as the Government Affairs Director in 2018, he spent most of his time working in corporate law for a Fortune 30 company managing government affairs work for the Mid-Atlantic region. He’s also a 2011 graduate of the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership and received their 2012 Expression of Ideals Award for his exemplary government affairs work in Virginia.

During the past two years, he has focused on growing the modular industry by removing barriers and creating new opportunities to help the industry have unlimited growth potential.

During COVID19, he utilized his relationship with the National Governors Association and the Council of Premiers in Canada to assist members in connecting with over 350 local, state, federal and provincial officials to provide information on how their companies could provide assistance. 

He worked with Fannie Mae to remove their six-week special underwriting guidelines for financing modular construction and helped them create a Modular Financing Toolkit that has been published and sent to all their lenders.

Jon connected with leadership at the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC) to remove their restrictions to not finance modular projects and is currently working with them to develop their own modular financing toolkit. 

CMHC recently announced their national Rapid Housing Initiative to address their affordable housing needs. This initiative will provide $1 billion to build affordable housing projects and it specifies that ALL NEW PROJECTS ARE TO BE BUILT USING ONLY MODULAR CONSTRUCTION!

He recently completed a project with the Facilities Guidelines Institute (FGI) to develop a guideline for the use of a Rapidly Deployable Modular Medical Facility. This new guideline should be published in the Spring of 2021.

In early March when the country shutdown, Jon spearheaded the industry’s efforts to reach out across the country to state and local emergency management officials. His relationship with the National Governors Association proved invaluable as it leads to direct contact with many state decision-makers.  As a result of MBI’s work on COVID, Jon participated in the development of a new standard with Facilities Guidelines Institute (FGI) for a “Rapidly Deployable Modular Medical Facility”.  Jon works daily with state modular program officials “putting out fires” for members and helping them to expedite projects.  I can think of no one else who had a greater positive impact on our industry in 2020. 

As someone who has been in the government affairs world for over two decades, it’s great to have him as part of an industry that has so many opportunities to address immediate needs, such as housing, disaster relief, medical facility development, education, etc. 

Andy Mest

Andrew Mest leads the Preconstruction and Off-Site Construction for Greystar, Headquartered in Charleston, SC.  Andrew has led Greystar through its first fully volumetric project in London in 2016, called Chapter Lewisham and most recently 101 George Street with twin towers at 44 and 38 stories respectively. 

While looking at who influenced off-site construction in 2020, I thought about Andy and how his dedication to volumetric construction within Greystar has changed how they are looking at the future. It’s not easy for one person to turn a large builder onto a new path but Andy is doing just that.

In the past 4 years has completed over 2,000 Units in volumetric construction and more than 1,000,000/SF.  

Andy is tasked with due diligence on all pursuits that may deploy off-site construction and prefabricated components.  He has been part of completing more than 50,000 apartments in his career with a construction value in excess of $7.5 Billion.

Andy might not be an industry influencer but he certainly earned his place on my list because of his and his team’s efforts to bring volumetric construction to the forefront of Greystar.

Tom Hardiman

Tom Hardiman, MBA, CAE has been involved in leadership roles in modular construction since 2004 when he was named the Executive Director for the Modular Building Institute (MBI), the international non-profit trade association for the commercial modular industry.  In 2012, he took on the additional role as Executive Director for the Modular Home Builders Association (MHBA), the national non-profit trade association serving the modular home industry, bringing the entire modular construction industry under one management team.

In these roles, Tom has extensive experience as an industry advocate on various legislative, regulatory, and building code issues at the state and federal levels.  He was one of the leading forces behind the creation of the Offsite Construction Council within the National Institute of Building Science’s (NIBS) and has served on the Council’s board since its inception. 


As Director of MBI, Tom facilitated the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Code Council (ICC) in 2016.  That relationship has led the ICC to develop several resources for the offsite construction sector, including two new ANSI standards currently under development. Tom serves as the Vice-Chair of the working group developing these standards. 

For fifteen years, Tom was also the Government Affairs Director for MBI, coordinating grassroots lobbying efforts in over twenty states.  In 2018, MBI hired Jon Hannah-Spacagna to fill that role, as issue advocacy became increasingly critical for the industry’s success and a full-time effort was needed. 

In 2015, along with his business partner Steven Williams, he launched the first “Offsite Construction Expo” in North America.  The Expo has since been delivered in person and virtually over a dozen times to more than a thousand attendees. These conferences have introduced dozens of developers and architects to the offsite construction sector.

His company, Hardiman-Williams, LLC (HW) was featured in the August 2018 “Associations Now” publication by the American Society of Association Executives for their work on saving the residential modular trade association from the brink of closure.  When HW took over management of the association, only three members were current with dues.  After rebranding and retooling, and with considerable work from team members Dave Sikora and Amanda Rowe, the association now has over 140 members.

Tom has spoken in-person and virtually at numerous conferences around the world including modular construction events in England, Ireland, Spain, and Hong Kong.  He has also delivered presentations and training sessions on topics such as governance, strategic planning, and leadership to other non-profit professionals. As a tireless advocate and spokesperson for the modular industry specifically and non-profits in general, he brings his entrepreneurial background and passion to his presentations.


Tom has given presentations for the International Code Council Annual Conference in Las Vegas; Modular and Offsite Construction Summit in Alberta, CN; Construct Canada in Toronto, ON; and Virginia Governor’s Conference on Housing in Richmond, VA to name a few.  He has been interviewed and regularly cited in publications such as ENR Magazine, USA Today, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. 

Hardiman was previously the Executive Director with Associated Builders and Contractors of West Virginia where he lobbied for pro-business and pro-growth legislation.  Prior to association management, Hardiman assisted small businesses and entrepreneurs by crafting over one hundred and fifty business plans and loan packages as Director of a Small Business Development Center.  He has also worked in the economic development, banking, and insurance fields.

Hardiman earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Business Administration at Marshall University in Huntington, WV, and the designation of Certified Association Executive from the American Society of Association Executives. Additionally, he has successfully completed several leadership courses at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

He has served on the Board of Directors for both the West Virginia and Virginia Society of Association Executives.  For the past decade, he has served various roles with his local Boys and Girls Club, including Board Chair, Treasurer, and interim director.  Hardiman resides in central Virginia with his wife, Lesley and daughter, Grace and their two dogs.  When not working, he likes to read and spend time “social distancing” at his log cabin in Greenbrier County, WV.

“It’s an honor to be considered an influencer in this field, but it’s an honor I must share with my team at Hardiman-Williams.  Without the hard work they do on a daily basis, the associations simply would not be where they are today.”

Gary Fleisher, the Modcoach, publishes Modcoach News and Modular Home Coach blogs for the modular industry professional and Modcoach Connects for construction consultants

email me at modcoach@modcoachconnects.com

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