Modular Building Institute

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An Interview with:

Tom Hardiman

MBI Executive Director


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What does MBI do?

The Modular Building Institute (MBI) is the international non-profit trade association for modular construction. Our regular members include manufacturers, contractors, and dealers in two distinct segments of the industry: 1) permanent modular construction (PMC) and 2) relocatable buildings (RB). Our associate members are companies that supply building components, services, and financing. Founded in 1983, we continue to work and grow the market share for modular construction.

What is MBI’s mission statement?

As the voice of the modular construction industry, it is our mission to expand offsite construction with innovative construction practices, awards and recognition for high-quality designs, community outreach, and customer education.


What are the benefits of MBI membership?

MBI offers our member companies access to information and resources that will help them remain competitive and strong in a volatile business climate. We want to keep our members at the forefront of trends in the construction world and provide continuing education and training for member organizations. By promoting the modular construction industry as a whole through our educational events and World of Modular, we strive to bring industry members together to encourage networking and innovation.

Key Member benefits include:

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  • Protecting Members’ Businesses: Every year, MBI monitors and reviews thousands of bills and proposed regulations to determine their potential impact on our industry. MBI has taken the lead to introduce, change and defeat legislation and regulations that would have an adverse impact on our industry’s ability to utilize our assets. We have successfully protected our members’ interests in numerous states and provinces on issues ranging from taxation, plan approval, code compliance, relocation, and re-certification.
  • Networking: MBI allows members to make valuable contacts and contribute to the advancement of the industry through their involvement. MBI’s annual convention and tradeshow, World of Modular, is the largest gathering of modular construction professionals in the world. There is no greater opportunity to network within the industry and among interested end users than at MBI events.
  • Training & Educational Programs: Through attending MBI programs, members gain awareness of industry trends and get hands-on information to help improve work performance. In early 2015, MBI and Clemson University introduced a NEW book for modular building professionals, Introduction to Commercial Modular Construction. The goal: to introduce readers to the modular construction method. The book discusses the modular building process compared to traditional site-built construction and is designed to help the reader understand terminology and concepts including client needs, design, fabrication, transportation, and installation.
  • Recognition: MBI recognizes the best modular buildings annually through its Awards of Distinction contest. MBI also recognizes individuals who have contributed to the industry through the Hall of Fame, Lifetime Achievement, and Modular Fellows awards.
  • Leads and Referrals: The MBI referral service carefully screens all leads generated by the MBI website and encourages potential clients to use the services of our members. The leads are then placed with the appropriate member based on product and geographic criteria.
  • Industry Analysis: Our annual report distributes statistical information about the size and growth of the industry. It has become the leading source of information on this industry and is widely used by investment firms, banks, and the media.
  • Promoting Integrity and Professionalism: All MBI members subscribe to the MBI Code of Business Ethics & Conduct which promotes integrity and quality in the modular industry.
  • Membership Directory: All MBI members are listed in our membership directory – the only directory dedicated exclusively to the commercial factory-built industry. Industry professionals look to the directory as an informative resource throughout the year.

“There is no greater opportunity to network than at MBI events.”

Tom Hardiman, MBI Executive Director


Why choose modular vs. conventional (stick-build) construction?

Modular is an attractive alternative for builders because it’s safer and more efficient. Modular manufacturers are able to recycle and reuse materials since the construction of the modules occurs within a factory setting. Worker injuries from falls are very low because the construction of the modules occurs on one level. In addition, trades (plumbing, electrical, painting, etc.) are scheduled well in advance, allowing for efficient and on-time completion.


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What do you think the future holds for the modular industry?

The commercial modular construction industry is poised to see some incredible growth in the coming years. Currently, modular construction makes up about 3 percent of new commercial construction in North America, but it’s growing quickly. More developers are realizing the benefits and advantages. MBI projects a growth to about 5 percent of new construction in the next five years. That’s still a small part of the market, but the construction industry as a whole tends to be very slow to adopt what they perceive as new methods. As part of our 5-in-5 initiative, we hope to grow modular construction to a 5 percent share of the construction market by 2020.

“As part of our 5-in-5 initiative, we hope to grow modular construction to a 5% share of the market by 2020. ”

Tom Hardiman, MBI Executive Director


What trends do you see in the modular industry?

Modular construction is really taking off in the multifamily (apartments) and education markets. Modular components (i.e., bathroom pods) are in high demand in office and healthcare settings. If manufacturers can keep up with demand, modular is poised to make leaps and bounds in the construction market share in the next few years. I expect we will see more general contracting firms try their hand at offsite construction.

What is the biggest challenge in the modular industry?


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The biggest challenge modular builders face is the perception that modular buildings are low in quality and/or are unattractive. MBI works to overcome this by educating end users at construction industry tradeshows, through whitepapers available on modular.org, and through in-person modular summits held several times a year across North America. We also recognize the best in the industry every year at World of Modular through our Awards of Distinction.

Why should a modular company join MBI?

Joining MBI means being a part of shaping the future of the modular industry.

For PMC builders and manufacturers, we offer education on the benefits of modular construction and how to best utilize it within their specific market.

For RB companies, MBI Government Affairs staff work tirelessly to ensure that relocatable buildings are acknowledged and included in state, provincial, national, and international building codes (primarily in the US and Canada, where a majority of our membership is based). This allows companies who own “fleets” of RBs – like classrooms or construction trailers – to continue doing business without overhauling their entire fleet at once.

MBI also hosts the industry’s largest convention and tradeshow – World of Modular. In 2015, World of Modular had more than 750 attendees from 24 countries across the world. World of Modular offers educational breakouts, networking, and expo time for modular manufacturers, dealers, and suppliers of goods and services.

“Joining MBI means being a part of shaping the future of the modular industry.”

Tom Hardiman, MBI Executive Director


What are the MBI Awards?

The MBI Awards program is a competition that is held among our members and includes recognition and awards for more than 30 different modular categories. Some of these include building manufacturers, dealers, and product and service providers. Entries are relocatable, permanent, and renovated modular buildings as well as industry marketing pieces. Each entry is reviewed by an impartial panel of industry and non-industry construction and code experts, architects and engineers, and marketing professionals. Building entries are judged on architectural excellence, technical innovation & sustainability, cost effectiveness, energy efficiency, and calendar days to complete. Marketing pieces are judged on stated objectives, creativity, methodology, and results.

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What do you want members/non-members to know about MBI?

Whether you are a member or non-member, MBI is your number one resource for all things modular construction. We have a vast amount of educational materials available to anyone who is interested in learning more about modular construction. White papers are available for download on our website.

“MBI is your number one resource for all things modular construction.”

Tom Hardiman, MBI Executive Director


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