The construction industry has evolved, quickly. Modular has always been a method in smaller “unique” projects in residential and then expanded into low-rise educational and healthcare usages. Now companies are focusing on pure modular for mid and high-rise multifamily, hospitality and commercial office developments. Most of these units come fully equipped with carpet, painted walls, sinks and even flat TVs on the wall. It’s akin to a massive “tetris”. Gillian Executive Search has been working hard to support many of these endeavors in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC markets. The search for Modular Development, Architects and Construction Managers is on the rise and with it are inherit headaches and thrills.

The bench strength for quality construction and development talent has become smaller over the years though we have seen some increase in those numbers. The volume of those with experience in modular construction is extremely low. Modular requires a new understanding of highest quality manufacturing coupled with architecture and construction. It’s a new beast. Real Estate Developers are even exploring (some have done it) owning and operating their own internal manufacturing groups in order to deliver their units faster and with better quality.

What this means for construction is a massive change in knowledge from the classroom to the job trailer. It will also, from our perspective, dwindle the amount of non-skilled labor on the job sites. Framing and rough carpentry will be a major area that will feel this and perhaps some of the first companies to experience a metamorphic change from needing an abundance of field employees to cover projects over a wide spread geographic area to just needing a strong group of trade-educated “framing manufacturing engineers” on the production floor.

There is no doubt the landscape of modular construction will decrease cost and schedule and with it the amount of field labor needed on each project.

Kipp Gillian | President of Gillian Executive Search