Take five men who are sick and tired of working for others and not making a living but just making a life. Mix together a lot of research into the relocatable accommodations industry. Throw in a willingness to take a chance on a new venture. Add out-of-pocket investments and zero financing. And what do you get? Modern Industrial Structures Inc. (MISI), a leading manufacturer of relocatable accommodations.
Located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, Modern Industrial Structures got its start in January 2006 when Marty Williams, Terry Williams, Rick Lange, Pat Bradley, and Ray Brassard pooled their resources and efforts to create a prototype of an engineered geologist unit. The prototype was built on a farmer’s Quonset in Clavet, a small town near Saskatoon. The 60-foot prototype enabled an engineer and a geologist taking core samples to work and live side by side. It contained two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a washer and dryer, televisions, a kitchen, and more.
The prototype cost more than C$200,000 to build and sold for $136,000, resulting in a financial loss for the partners, but that did not deter them from pursuing their dream. “The sale of our prototype enabled us to forge ahead and start our own manufacturing plant,” says Marty Williams, co-owner. “We knew the oil field was a big business, and our product could be used in the oil fields, in construction, in disaster areas, or practically anywhere there is a need. So, we leased a 10,000-square-foot plant with the intention of staying there two to three years before expanding. However, we soon realized it was too small and moved into our existing location, a 100,000-square-foot facility, in September 2006. We only stayed in the first plant around eight to 10 months.”
Business took off quickly for Modern Industrial, and it sold $138,000 of product its first year. Last year, the company realized $19 million in sales and expects to reach over $30 million in sales this year. That’s quite a big jump from losing money on a prototype to achieving incredible sales, especially given the short time frame.
Today, Modern Industrial employs 250 people at its two manufacturing plants, each 100,000-square feet. The company also has a franchise facility in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. “What’s amazing is that we have become an industry leader so quickly,” Marty Williams says. “The big players have been doing this for 35 to 40 years, and we have caught them in sales.”
COMFORT AWAY FROM HOME
Building structures to meet customers’ demands is what Modern Industrial does best. The company’s relocatable units are all 60 feet in length. Products include: an engineer-geologist, comfortable and plush living accommodations designed for two engineers in the oil fields; 12-by-60 foot wash cars containing toilets and showers, typically used in oilfield and construction sites throughout the world.; sleeping dorms where eight trailers are put together for use in the oil fields; water cars to store water; office, lunchroom and kitchen complexes; complete camps/housing; well site units, and more. Modern Industrial will meet any customer’s needs.
DISCOVERING NEW WAYS
An important milestone for the company occurred this year when a leader in the relocatable structure industry reached out to Modern Industrial and ordered 108 modular structures. “This is an incredible honor,” says Marty Williams. “They have been in business since 1947 and have never subcontracted any work to anyone else. They chose us because of the way we build our structures and the quality product we produce.”
Quality is important to Modern Industrial, and the company aims to take it a step further. “People who build houses miss work because it is cold, windy, or rainy,” Marty Williams says. “But when you bring them inside, they don’t have a reason to skip work.” Based on this philosophy, Modern Industrial is moving the home construction business indoors to a manufacturing plant, one it plans to build in the near future. The company believes that the conventional way of building houses is not the most feasible, and that building homes within a manufacturing plant is the way of the future. “When you build a house inside a plant,” says Marty Williams, “you don’t have weather hindering the performance, or ability of any worker, or the professionalism of the building. The building is built with pride this way.”
BUILDING FROM THE GROUND UP
At present, Modern Industrial operates two manufacturing plants in Canada. One plant builds office structures, each 12 feet wide by 60 feet long, and has the capability to produce up to 41 structures per month. The other plant can build 36 of the same size structures per month.
With other companies building the same type of structures, it would be easy to get lost among the competition. So how does Modern Industrial tackle this challenge? It’s easy.
Modern Industrial believes in overbuilding its product, putting more into it rather than keeping items out or streamlining the structures. “Instead of just building a Chevy we build a Cadillac,” Marty Williams says. “So compared to our competitors, our product is built for life and built to last. They have top quality everything in them from the start and right to the end. We build with quality in mind, and our quality employees check to ensure the finished product is built the way it is supposed to be built and that nothing is missed, right down to the nails and screws.”
Nails, screws, windows, doors and other raw materials used in the construction of Modern Industrial’s products are tracked by the suppliers, who bring the materials into the plants, manage the inventory, and control it. This requires the suppliers to track what is needed and ensure the company has the needed materials on hand at all times. In order to achieve this goal, suppliers visit the plants on a regular basis. Supplier inventory control enables Modern Industrial to focus on what it does best – building relocatable structures – rather than focusing on the tracking supplies.
It is important to Modern Industrial that its customers and employees know the company cares about them and keeps their best interests in mind when making decisions. “We want everyone who works for us to succeed,” says Marty Williams. “Nobody cared about us (the owners) when we worked for other people, so we want our employees to prosper and grow in every way. We run our company like a family and believe 110 percent that the people working for us are just as valuable as the guys who started the company. It’s our dream for our employees and their families to setup a town called MISIville where they would live in houses constructed by our company and own and operate the stores within the town. It’s important to us that everybody prospers. We (the owners) could have left the business when it succeeded, but we continue to be here because this is our family, and each and every one of our employees is very important to us.”