When Unity founder Tedd Benson gives presentations about the company, he often includes a slide with the title “Born from Everywhere.” The slide provides an overview of the many ways in which Unity and Bensonwood have learned from other countries and cultures.
As Tedd and others in the company have toured factories, participated in conferences and inspected buildings around the world, they’ve brought back with them a wealth of information about best practices. Over the years we’ve made many of these practices our own by integrating them into our company culture and systems. The goal of these efforts, as with all that we do, is to improve the design-build experience for our clients, and elevate the quality of their homes.
The innovative processes that Unity and Bensonwood have pioneered in the US are gaining increasing attention within the construction industry, particularly as off-site construction is seen as a solution to many challenges facing the industry. In addition to references to Unity in industry journals, and requests of Tedd to speak at major conferences, we are often asked by other construction professionals for tours of our production facility. Although some of these visitors represent companies that are attempting to do work similar to ours, we are generally happy to oblige. From our perspective, the more companies that are successful at building high quality homes using off-site methods, the better off we all will be.
Last Monday, we hosted a large contingent of visitors as part of a conference called Mod-X, dedicated to international dialogue about the status and future of off-site construction. Attendees from Sweden, the United Kingdom, Poland, Japan and China joined architects, builders, academics and policy makers from the US for this three day event, the first day of which was focused on Unity and Bensonwood.
Tedd kicked off our segment of the conference with a presentation that described how his lifelong quest for A Better Way to Build led to our constructing the new production facility. He then placed our work in the context of an ambitious and inspiring vision for the future of home building. Following the presentation, Jay Lepple and John McElroy, two leaders in the production facility, led an in-depth tour of our three production lines—wall, roof and floor panels—and the processes that support them.
The conference agenda for Tuesday included presentations by company leaders from four regions of the world—Sweden, England, Poland and Japan—about the ways in which they are using off-site construction to improve home building. There are factories in Japan that produce one module every three minutes—now that’s setting a high bar! The third day of the conference was in New York City, where the presentations focused on two large apartment buildings that were built using innovative off-site methods.
Unity and our clients have benefited from the experience, intelligence and generosity of like-minded construction professionals from around the world. The company was “Born from Everywhere,” and we continue to “Learn from Everywhere.” We understand that we are not going to improve the standard of home building all by ourselves; this will require a prolonged and concerted effort on the part of many players. We appreciate opportunities such as the Mod-X conference to share our own knowledge and experience in the service of that larger mission.