By Robert Davis, Reporter, Business Insider magazine
Who are transforming the way homes are sold and offices get built at firms like Blackstone, Redfin, and CBRE
The COVID-19 pandemic turbocharged residential real-estate markets and threw commercial ones into a tizzy as Americans reassessed — and sometimes combined — their home and work lives. This year, some of the most disruptive reactions — from Zoom-town booms to the warehouse construction frenzy — solidified into longer-term trends.
Christian Lawrence, 29
With a background in finance, Lawrence, 29, admits he isn’t the kind of person one might expect to be the CEO of a modular construction company.
In just 2½ years, Lawrence has grown Rise Modular, a construction firm in the greater Minneapolis area, into a business that has built more than 760 units as of November 2022. Rise, which has grown to 150 employees, has another 400 units currently under construction.
Modular construction refers to a process of producing a product at an off-site location and then assembling it on-site. At Rise, which specializes in multifamily and commercial real-estate construction, this can mean building an entire floor at their 150,000-square-foot warehouse and then transporting it to a job site for installation.
“At Rise, we’re trying to expand the pie, not just take a bigger slice of it,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence says Rise separates itself from its competitors by focusing on projects that wouldn’t otherwise be possible in a more traditional construction setting.
For example, Rise completed a seven-story, 192-unit building called Alvera Apartments in St. Paul in December 2021. Lawrence said other developers on the project approached Rise to help with the project because they couldn’t make it pencil out with pro forma systems. Rise was able to build the building with 154 different modular pieces, which saved at least five months of construction work, Lawrence said.
Lawrence said that in the next three to five years, he expects Rise to become a leader in the modular construction space. The company has plans to expand outside of the Minneapolis market, and Lawrence said Rise is “well-positioned to capitalize on that growth.”
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