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Modular Genius

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An Interview with: Brad Gudeman

VP of Business Development (Baltimore, MD)

What does Modular Genius do?

We are a full service, turnkey operation for modular buildings. We offer an expedited method of construction. Our team works with the client on their building project from design to occupancy. As a one-stop shop, we are able to be involved in every single phase of the project.

How long has the company been in business?

Modular Genius is celebrating our 10 year anniversary in May 2016.

Who are your customers?

We serve anyone who needs a modular building for permanent or temporary use. Some of our most common industries and needs include:

  • Federal, State and Local Government
  • Private Industry
  • Education
  • Business
  • Healthcare
  • Assembly, Houses of Worship, Cafeterias, Visitor Centers
  • Daycare Facilities
  • Dormitories
  • Bunk Houses
  • Scale Houses, Guard Houses, Equipment Shelters, Press Boxes

How did Modular Genius get started?

After several years working in the modular industry, we noticed that customers weren’t always getting the attention and assistance they needed during each phase of the project. In the past, a customer had to hire a modular building dealer to provide the modular building, but you had to figure out the rest.

That’s when we saw the need for a full-service modular operation, providing a modular building expert to walk customers through the entire process, from design to occupancy. When Modular Genius, Inc. started, there were only a handful of other companies doing what we were doing. Now, pretty much everyone in the modular industry sees the value in the full-service model.

What is your most popular product? Why?  

When we talk about our products, we say: ‘we sell sea shells’ Every project is unique. Every design is custom. But if we had to narrow it down to one specific product, the temporary classroom is our most popular unit. The school districts cannot build permanent schools fast enough. Modular classrooms are the most cost-effective bandage to handle the population growth.

“We sell sea shells. Every project is unique. Every design is custom.”

Brad Gudeman, VP, Modular Genius

What feature is most important to your customers?

Speed, also known as the amount of time to occupancy, is crucial to our customers. One client’s goal may be to have their health clinic up and running as quickly as possible because the value of their business is based on the number of patients they see per day. Another customer may be an educator who needs more classroom space for a certain curriculum. Both customers need space and need it quickly, the logistics are just different.

Who is your ideal customer?

Anyone who is willing to invest time on the front end of the project (design, drawings, submittals). If the customer is actively engaged in the pre-construction phase, the actual construction portion of the project (schedule, level of quality, and budget) will run much more smoothly.

What things should a customer know before they contact you?

Here are the 5 questions we ask every customer:

  1. Do you have land and are you ready to build?
  2. Do you have an architect or engineer you would like to use?
  3. Have you checked the zoning restrictions for your site?
  4. Do you have funding in place for this project?
  5. Are you the decision maker?

If the customer can say yes to all of these questions, then we can start drilling down to the details of their specific needs.

How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?

1. We self-perform some of our construction services.

Most of our services, like installation, drafting, and engineering are done in-house. This helps with the speed of the overall project. If a customer wants to make changes to the floorplan, we can get a new quote back to them within the same day. There’s no lag time in communication and we don’t expect the buyer to tell the subcontractors what to do. We do that for them. We are going to make sure everything is running smoothly on your site and that you are getting the attention you deserve.

2. Our employees have experience in modular and/or construction.

We expect our staff to have a holistic understanding of the modular industry. We view ourselves not only as builders but also consultants. Unfortunately, many of our competitors hire employees with no experience in modular or construction. While they may be good at making sales, they know very little about the product. We believe that in order to provide the highest quality service, our team must be experts in their field.

“We expect our staff to have a holistic understanding of the modular industry. We view ourselves not only as builders but also consultants.”

Brad Gudeman, VP, Modular Genius

What are the most commonly asked questions?

Two main questions people ask:

  1. How much will it cost?
  2. How fast can I get it?

We make it our goal to answer those two questions as quickly as possible. That’s why we have a ‘quote calculator’ on our website. On our homepage, a potential customer can type in their specific modular requirements and get a free price quote within 60 seconds. We are the only company in our industry that offers the on-demand quote. It’s a great way to let people know whether or not they can afford our product and save everyone time.

How long does it take to complete a typical modular project?

The fastest we’ve finished a job is 30 days. That’s if we have the building in our inventory. Normally, the cycle of a project is 60 to 90 days. Anything that takes longer than 90 days is usually a complex project that required a lot of site prep before construction.

What trends do you see in the industry?

I’ve seen a lot of change within the last 5 years. I’m currently on the board of industries trade association the Modular Building Institute (MBI) and we have an initiative to grow the modular construction share of the construction market by 5% within the next 5 years. Currently, modular construction makes up about 2-3% of construction worldwide, but we hope to change that with our 5 in 5 initiative.

How is your mission statement carried out in day-to-day life?

1. We are constantly asking “what could we do better?

If a customer isn’t shaking our hand as firmly as they were in the beginning, that means we’re doing something wrong. We never want that to happen. We follow through with what we sell. We are always looking for ways to improve the modular method so it can evolve on a worldwide scale.

2. We expect our employees to be reliable and committed to our customers, our subcontractors and our environment.

What are common misconceptions in the modular industry?

Many people think that modular means magical: that everything is done in the blink of an eye with little participation required on the customer’s part. But that’s just not the case. There aren’t a bunch of little elves who come out and complete the project overnight.

When we’re setting up a modular unit, the customer has to be involved in the project. We need their input on what dimensions, features, colors, materials, etc., that they want. We have to make sure that the unit complies with all the necessary construction requirements such as wind, snow, seismic, etc., in order to ensure that it’s a sound structure.

Think of it this way: a modular unit is less like an RV and more like a permanent build. You can’t just roll it up when you’re done with it as you would with a camper. The unit is much more permanent in nature and must abide by all necessary codes and requirements to ensure it is safe and ready to occupy.

Any notable projects you would like to tell us about?

Modular Genius, Inc. received an honorable mention award from the Modular Building Institute’s 2016 Awards Of Distinction for a 3,300 sq ft Temporary Health Clinic.

A. Architectural Excellence

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans required an Inter-professional Clinic for the School of Dentistry and Nursing to provide primary and urgent care in a teaching environment to support the local community. While there are long-term plans for a permanent facility, the temporary need was immediate. To provide this clinic, it was proposed to use a 3,600 gross square foot freestanding modular building for speed to occupancy to accommodate the program.

The temporary facility would be located next to the visitor parking, between two parking lots on the north side of Florida Avenue on campus. The shape of the modular building is square to fit symmetrically on the property and was painted a light tan to match similar visual aesthetics of the surrounding campus. Landscaping of indigenous plans was desired to insure the project looked presentable and planned.

B. Technical Innovation & Sustainability

Modular construction was an ideal solution due to grant funding requiring the structure to be operational within the year that funding was approved. Site utilities and foundations were constructed while the building was manufactured in an off-site facility. The foundation was constructed with timber pylons driven up to thirty feet deep. The installation crew used Translift machines designed to reduce cost and increase the quality and speed of setting the modules on the pylons.

Off-site construction included installation of features inside the modular building such as laminate counter tops, exam room sinks, counters, cabinets, plumbing, electric for dental chairs, and interior finishes such as floor covering and drop ceilings. The pre-fabricated aluminum canopy, ADA ramps, and steps were provided and tied into concrete sidewalks attached to parking lots on either side of the site.

C. Cost Effectiveness

The modular building and utility infrastructure had fulfilled grant and budget requirements. Modular Genius utilized readily available materials sourced close to the off-site facility of the modular building. Modular Genius surveyed the grounds and designed the building so that the utility connections would have the shortest runs. With help from MBI team partner Tink, Inc., Modular Genius found a local installer that operated their Translift equipment insuring the project established local cost effectiveness. Other MBI member team partners Upside Innovations, providing pre-fabricated aluminum entrances, and off-site construction facility Titan Modular Systems constructed a sound building which was a factor that yielded cost-effectiveness to the project.

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