Offsite Innovations: Are Your Internal Communications Ready?

The NAHB Building Systems Council has posted an informative webinar with Gary Fleischer, a former builder and modular salesman who now serves as an industry trainer and who runs the Modular Home Builder website ( During the 45-minute presentation—”Innovations in Offsite Construction: Ready or Not The Future has Arrived”—he outlines what he sees as the current and future state of modular and panelized construction, and the internal company forces that might help or hinder it.

If you’re new to offsite, Fleischer does a great job painting the broad landscape of this innovative approach to building. He offers snapshots of the most visible players including Entekra, Katerra, Unity Homes and Blueprint Robotics, each of which represents a different approach (and three of whom presented at the Alliance’s Offsite Roundtable in November). He also outlines what he sees coming down the pike, like modular cities and virtual reality on the construction site.

If you’re already familiar with offsite and want to know how to make it work, you will be interested in his analysis of how innovative ideas move through a company. Fleischer sees the typical large builder as a three-seat tandem bicycle, with upper management at the front, middle management (you guessed it) in the middle, and production at the back. Ideas generated at or adopted by the front determine the company’s direction; those from the middle tend to focus on saving money or improving sales and marketing; those from the back are usually about operational efficiency.

Unfortunately, ideas from the back of the bike may not make it intact to the front if they’re filtered through middle managers who don’t want to rock the boat. That’s a potential problem for an efficiency-focused effort like offsite, and those steering the company need to address it.

Fleischer also insists on not minimizing the risks associated with offsite, which for most builders is a new way of doing business. “To innovate you have to spend money, and you have to invest time and talent,” he says. How can you be sure of the ROI before launching that innovation? The truth is that you can’t.

But there’s one thing you can be sure of: companies with too much risk aversion will fade away in coming years, their markets captured by the less hesitant. Fortune favors the bold.

Listen to webinar