The Kilkenny-based company, Modubuild, which provides specialist fast-track modular construction services to the pharmaceutical, biotech, data centre and food and beverage sectors, has grown exponentially, and may now also benefit from demand for new buildings for handling the Covid-19 vaccines.
I spoke with its managing director Kevin Brennan to hear more about their rapid success, since establishing in 2006.
Modubuild now employs approximately 400 staff across Ireland and Europe, engaged in the design and construction of modular buildings for the commercial sector.
A strategic leap forward was the purchase of a 14,000 sq m factory in Castlecomer, County Kilkenny in 2016, which is where the design, engineering and construction of buildings takes place, before they are transported in modules to sites all over the world.
Buildings are steel-framed, with insulated steel cladding panels, and even the concrete floors are poured in the factory.
Mr Brennan told me that the company’s operations can see a client in their new facility, one year quicker than traditional design and construction methods.
A key differentiator, he told me, is that over 90pc of a building is constructed inside the Modubuild factory. That includes a full mechanical and electrical fit-out, sprinkler systems, floor finishes and even down to laboratory furniture.
The client inspects the finished building, inside the Modubuild factory, before it is exported and erected on-site.
With many traditional modular buildings, Mr Brennan told me, most of the internal works take place on-site, which is slower.
A recent Modubuild success story is a highly-specialised vaccine facility for the Chinese company, Wuxi Biological.
This two-storey, 1,000 sq m facility, costing over €10m, was designed and built in Castlecomer, and then erected on the client’s site in Ireland – all within nine days. That facility has been shortlisted in the ‘large project’ category of the Irish Pharma Awards, which take place today.
Modubuild exports 70 pc of its output and that expansion has been driven by its expertise in data centres, as the company has been involved in the design and construction of data centres for leading operators in nine countries in Europe as well as in the Caribbean.
That growth was sparked by completing a first data centre for a multinational operator here in 2012, which led to a contract for another facility for that client in Amsterdam.
Mr Brennan can be rightly proud of the firm’s extraordinary growth and the industrial engineer told me that he learned his work ethic and “had his best education” growing-up on the family farm.
The company is ideally placed in the fastest growing sectors of the economy and now there is the prospect that the Covid-19 vaccines will fuel demand for buildings that can be produced at speed.
Mr Brennan confirmed that there are “lots of discussions going-on with pharma companies, who are looking to repurpose buildings to produce and store the new vaccines”.
An Early Christmas Present
My book Small Steps tells how I applied the lessons I learned in rehabilitation hospital to my business career.
Much of the advice is founded on my career in property, and many people have found it of help in times of adversity.
As a gesture, in what has been a difficult year, I am making a digital copy of the book free to download from my website during December.