The InHouse OutHouse: Developing Business Partnerships

By Jason A. Fleming AIA posted 07-26-2012 10:27


Thus far in the grant process we have decided to divide and conquer. We’ve tried to compile information and have focused on areas of prefabrication history and methods, business contacts for marketing plans, and manufacturing contacts for pricing and partnerships.

We have researched the history of various aspects of prefabrication dating back to the mid 19th century. This has helped us gain perspective as to where we place ourselves in history and the lineage of manufacturing in architecture. While incredibly diverse, from methods of building to full buildings to various materials to prefabricated elements, this lineage has been helpful context. This information will absolutely help shape the presentation at the AIA Convention next year and give a frame of reference for the three case studies (ours, Lake Flato’s, and BLU Homes’) that we plan to present.

Through various avenues, we have begun the process of appealing to business students and professionals. We have offered the project as a short term experience in helping to develop a business model, marketing plan, and prospectus for the project moving forward beyond the grant and our prototype unit. At the same time, we’ve presented it as an opportunity for investment long term as a business partnership. Thus far, the response has been above expectations. Interested parties range in experience from marketing to sales to construction to business development to entrepreneurship to venture capital. Clearly, this is a diverse set of experience. We plan to pursue 2-4 leads and see where this can take us as we focus in on potential avenues for marketing and development.

We have begun to engage manufacturers and contractors. Through Leonard, we plan to have contact a manufacturer with experience in prefabrication. A manufacturing company in Navasota, TX has been contacted, though discussions are in the preliminary stages. A professor at the University of Houston has been advising on potential industry partnerships that may be productive. Danny Samuels has been helping to connect us with contractors in Houston so that we can get a sense of the costs for a site built alternative. This information along with the numbers from the prototype and potential numbers from manufacturers will allow us a baseline for existing practices and our project so that we can give concrete data to our business contacts in order to develop their strategies.

We hope that this demonstrates various levels of progress as we go about the process of fulfilling the requirements and deliverables for the grant. In our next update we hope to have more detail regarding all of these aspects of the project. Any and all feedback from you all is greatly appreciated and will help us get further along in the process.

Best - Andrew, Peter, and Jason