An interview with Christian Lawrence, founder of RISE Modular
By Offsite Builder Staff, Offsite Builder magazine, September 20, 2022
From an early age, Christian Lawrence (the 29-year-old CEO of RISE Modular) had an entrepreneurial spirit. The Minneapolis, Minn.-based company, which he founded in 2018, is thriving as a full-service commercial volumetric modular manufacturing and construction firm. They serve multifamily and hospitality clients throughout the central US from a 150,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Owatonna, Minnesota.
We recently spoke with Lawrence about RISE and his atypical path into modular construction.
Offsite Builder (OB): Tell me a bit about your background – where are you from, growing up, hobbies, family life?
Christian Lawrence (CL): I was born and raised in Minnesota, in the Twin Cities. I was always active in sports, especially hockey, golf, skiing and hiking. These days, I enjoy spending time on the water. Ever since I was young, I knew I wanted to do something entrepreneurial.
OB: You majored in economics and had internships in finance. What drew you to these fields?
CL: I always liked math and statistics. As I began to consider what field to study, I thought learning finance would be useful to whatever career I pursued. After college, I worked in investment banking and private equity. I thought I’d be working on Wall Street, but eventually, I realized I wanted to return home to the Twin Cities. When I moved back, I started working in private investment.
OB: Why did you decide to leave finance and move into real estate?
CL: I got into finance to build up a useful skill set and thought it was a strong foundation that could lead me to any industry. Architecture and design were long-time interests of mine. I have always loved looking at buildings and the built environment, and have always loved planning spaces.
When I worked for that Twin Cities private investment firm, I pursued real estate investment. As I was working on an apartment development deal, I quickly learned that construction costs were outpacing rent and wage growth. While the affordable housing crisis is a significant challenge, it also presents a huge opportunity to think differently.
Construction is one of the country’s largest industries, yet it has had few productivity gains in the last 80 years. The industry is highly fragmented and has had little tech adoption compared to other industries. After learning this and experiencing it as a developer, I viewed construction tech, particularly modular construction, as promising and wanted the experience of building a project that way.
Read the entire article at Offsite Builder