THE INDUSTRY BODY KICKS OFF 2020 WITH A NEW CEO, WHILE INDUSTRY AND BUSINESS SMARTS FROM A LEADING US OFFSITE THINKER HELPED ROUND OFF 2019.
NEW LEADERSHIP AT PREFABAUS
Incoming prefabAUS CEO Anne Wilson took up her position on Monday 2 March following the departure of Warren McGregor. Wilson is an experienced Chief ExecutIve Officer and Managing Director with a diverse track record of restructuring, repositioning and growing organisations to meet stakeholder needs while attracting investment for financial sustainability and growth.
She has worked across the education and health NFP sectors focussing on capacity building across key areas including advocacy, education, research and service delivery. She brings to her new role a strong social justice track record and a passion for stakeholder engagement and collaboration. “There has never been a more important time to step into this role and work with and on behalf of industry to promote the benefits of prefabricated construction,” Wilson commented.
A prefabAUS Talks session rolled out in November 2019 across Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney was delivered by Rick Holliday, founder and CEO of US modular disruptor Factory_OS.
With Google as one of its inaugural clients, Factory_OS has been grabbing headlines since its foundation for its disruptive approach to housing delivery in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.
Holliday is a pioneer in affordable housing construction, whose achievements include the establishment of affordable homes specialists Eden Housing and Bridge Housing, as well as Holliday Development. Sharing Factory_OS’ journey with prefabAUS Talks audiences, he described the venture’s germination from 2014 to 2017 as “a bold idea to transform the construction industry.” That bold idea quickly attracted high-profile support; soon after set-up, the company was approached by Google to build 300 apartment units. More recently, in mid-2019, it secured sizeable investments from software giant Autodesk and wealth specialist Citi.
Factory_OS’ leadership also has clout. Working alongside Holliday, COO Larry Pace is regarded as California’s most experienced contractor in offsite construction. The company’s Chief Design Officer is renowned architect and offsite trailblazer David Baker, while Carol Galante – the Faculty Director of the Terner Center for Housing Innovation who also occupied high level roles in the Obama Administration’s housing department for over five years – is Chief Innovation Officer.
Holliday outlined how, early on, bay area projects provided a nascent pipeline for modular output, with early schemes providing proof of the Factory_OS method. Factory_OS’ residency in a disused WW II submarine factory at Vallejo Mare Island offered huge opportunities for R+D, he said. The factory’s location also furnished easy access to the west coast market via freeway and cargo shipping routes.
From 2018 to 2019, the company has focused on partnerships – a central ethos from the outset. The Northern California Carpenters’ Regional Council (the union) has provided expertise and training and also helped grow the factory’s pipeline through its contractor network. Other strategic partners include the Terner Center for Housing Innovation, roofing and building composites giant Owens Corning, Autodesk and Citi. International partnerships include building company Lindbäcks (Sweden) and Lendlease in Australia. In recent times Factory_OS pipeline and partners have encompassed: Google, Holliday Development, Bridge Housing, Mercy Housing, Chinatown CDC, East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, City of San Francisco and the City of Los Angeles.
Looking ahead, plans included the development of a catalogue of base floor plans to maximise factory efficiency. The year 2020 would also see an enhanced A & E division, increased hardware and software integration, and the creation of a Factory_OS operating system that can be licensed globally via collaboration with Autodesk. The year 2021 and beyond will see Factory_OS’ capacity grow from 500 units per year at start-up to 5000 a year in 2021 and beyond.■