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Offsite Construction Summit Spotlights Fast-Growing Industry in Minnesota

An exclusive article from the Offsite Construction Network

Manufacturers, designers, and developers from across the Upper Midwest were joined by industry veterans and newcomers alike for the inaugural Offsite Construction Summit in downtown Minneapolis on June 20, 2024. Presented by the Offsite Construction Network and the Modular Building Institute, this full-day Summit offered a full day of networking, education, and, in many respects, celebration of the quickly-growing—and much needed—modular construction industry in and around the city.

Meeting Minnesota’s Affordable Housing Needs

Like most states, Minnesota—and Minneapolis, in particular—is struggling with the demand for affordable housing. Up until recently, options were few. But now, with the opening of the third modular manufacturing facility in the greater Minneapolis area, the city is poised to not only offer solutions to its housing crisis but become a hub for the entire modular construction industry.

In fact, the Minneapolis Summit started with a panel discussion of one of the city’s most talked-about new manufacturing companies: George Modular Solutions. Devean George, a former professional basketball player with an 11-year career in the NBA and Minneapolis native, alongside members of his new modular project team, spoke about the opportunities—for both housing and employment—that his new factory will bring to the area.

“I kept hearing from the community about jobs and housing,” said George. “Folks take pride in something that they have been a part of. I am paying it forward — where people in the community are building a place they can live in.”

The topic of affordable housing was a theme during the morning sessions. Following the opening panel discussion, architects Dean Dovolis and Amanda Pederson of local firm DJR—themselves part of George’s broad team of industry experts—spoke about their own work to bring deeply affordable public housing options to Minneapolis using modular construction.

“As designers and architects, we are passionate about the advancement of innovative construction methodologies like modular construction,” said Pederson. “We’re excited for the opportunity to share some of the work we have been doing locally, as well as to make connections with industry leaders and experts.”

Dovolis and Pederson were following Christian Lawrence and Troy Tiddens of RISE Modular, the first modular manufacturer to establish itself in Minneapolis several years ago. Their presentation, “Embracing Market Demands in Offsite Construction,” included examples of RISE’s own affordable housing projects and underscored their belief that manufacturers must balance standardization with adaptability to provide maximum value.

The morning sessions ended with a informative presentation from Justin Stewart, CEO of Synergy Modular. Titled “Unlocking Affordable Housing: A Modular Construction Success Story,” Stewart dove into the key strategies that have allowed his company to succeed in the industry over the past decade.

Following a long networking lunch, two more sessions were presented. During the first, “The Next Generation of Multi-Story Building: Prefabricated Building Envelopes,” Jace Rossow, regional facades manager at Wells, spoke about the many advantages that prefabricated panels and facades can bring to multilevel projects. The day’s sessions then ended with Brian Nicholson, CEO of Minnesota’s new Advanced Volumetric Alliance (AVA). His session, “Making Modular Work,” described how his modular project team works to deliver on the promises of the modular construction process.

Building the Offsite Industry in Minneapolis

Besides the six sessions, the Minneapolis Summit offered ample for time for networking and introductions. Nearly 150 attendees, including twenty industry exhibitors, gathered for coffee, lunch, and afternoon beverages to make new connections and deepen existing relationships.

“From insightful discussions to meeting industry leaders and fellow enthusiasts, the event was a success,” said Steve Dubin, business development manager for RMax, a Sika Company. “It was great as always to see so many of my friends, colleagues and customers, and great to make some new connections too.”

Exhibitors at the Minneapolis Summit included All Energy Solar; Art’s Way Scientific; AVA; BonnaVilla, a Division of Chief Industries, Inc.; DJR; Dr.Shrink; Dynamic Homes; Extreme Panel Technologies; Lindapter; McFly; ModCribs and Proset Set Services; MyTech Partners; Northstar SystemBuilt; Revolution Deck Systems; RISE Modular; Roman Products, LLC; Soukup; Specialized Transportation Enterprises; Sustant; Synergy Modular; and Wesco.

“Minneapolis was a great choice for this Summit,” said Tom Hardiman, executive director of the Offsite Construction Network. “There were some great presentations and lots of good networking. There’s a tremendous amount of potential here, both for us and the entire offsite construction industry.”

Looking Ahead to Denver and Atlanta

Two more Offsite Construction Summits remain in 2024, both in cities with strong interests—and experience—in modular and offsite construction. The first, in Denver, will take place on September 18. The Atlanta Summit will be held on November 20.

“I feel like we’ve generated a good amount of buzz for these events,” said Hardiman. “I’m looking forward to heading back to Denver in the fall and Atlanta later this year. I hope to see you there!”

Troy Tiddens (left) and Christian Lawrence (right) of Minneapolis-based RISE Modular speak about their recent projects.
Troy Tiddens (left) and Christian Lawrence (right) of Minneapolis-based RISE Modular speak about their recent projects.
Devean George speaks at the Offsite Construction Summit in Minneapolis
NBA player-turned-modular factory owner Devean George speaks about the housing and employment goals of George Modular Solutions.
Manufacturers, designers, and developers from across the Upper Midwest were joined by industry veterans and newcomers alike for the inaugural Offsite Construction Summit in downtown Minneapolis.
The morning, lunch, and afternoon networking opportunities were a highlight of the Summit.
networking at the Offsite Construction Summit
Exhibitors, including BonnaVilla and Revolution Deck Systems, stayed busy in between presentations.
Architect Dean Dovolis presents at the Offsite Construction Summit
Dean Dolovis, principal at DJR Architecture, speaks about his firms' deeply affordable housing projects as well as his work helping Devean George's modular project team.
networking at the Offsite Construction Summit in Minneapolis
Attendees had multiple opportunities to network, share information, and make valuable connections.

About the Author: John McMullen, PCM, is the marketing director for the Offsite Construction Network. You can reach him at mcmullen@hardimanwilliams.com.

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