When he created Allied Modular Building Systems, Inc. over a quarter of a century ago, company Founder and Chairman Keith Peithman had a vision: to provide customers with a modern, extremely durable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional, often wasteful, construction methods.
Like many great ideas, Peithman’s was inspired by something seemingly unrelated, namely fish tanks. Doing repair work on these tanks, he noticed how the glass panels fit together within a frame and were glued in place, resulting in a box. One day, he asked himself, ‘what if I could turn this into a bigger box, and instead of using glass, use some sort of panels to create an office?’ Initially working out of the back of his van, Peithman further developed his idea, which evolved into Allied Modular Building Systems.
That was in 1989. Today, with a combined staff of approximately 140, Allied Modular is headquartered in Orange County, California and has expanded to other locations in Nashville, Tennessee, and Austin, Texas, to better meet the needs of customers across North America and internationally. With the goal of expanding even further in the future, Allied Modular has evolved into one of the fastest-growing and most highly respected modular businesses serving the commercial building industry.
“Customers really like the product,” says Chris Fredriksen, the company’s Director of Sales for the past two years. “Unlike a lot of companies out there, Allied Modular has a lot of different offerings, including colors, facings, and much more.” Where many modular companies offer very limited color selections – usually white, gray, or off-white – Allied has in-house powder coating facilities at all of its locations, and can customize colors and many other aspects of modular structures to the exact needs of all customers. Additionally, the company’s strategically located operations in California, Tennessee, and Texas enable it to respond quickly to all orders, which often results in lower cost for clients.
From small guardhouses, to modular offices, all the way to large structures up to three stories in height, Allied Modular works closely with all clients to design, manufacture, and erect custom-tailored products to meet their individual needs. Solutions are wide-ranging, and practically limitless. Storage spaces, front lobbies, smoking rooms, exterior buildings, machine enclosures – including those used for EDM (Electronic Discharge Machines) – can be pre-manufactured, along with partitions and walls, clean rooms, warehouse space, retail offices, break rooms, conference rooms, executive offices, ticket booths, parking attendant stations, storage buildings, hospital labs, computer rooms, and countless other applications can be created.
Typically, Allied Modular structures are directed onto an existing floor or a concrete slab, such as those found in a warehouse or guardhouse, or even onto a mezzanine located between main floors in an existing building. “A lot of companies now realize real estate costs are so expensive within their facility, so the only place to go is up, and they are using mezzanine systems of ours to put buildings on top of buildings,” states Fredriksen of the company, which has erected large structures for clients of 8,000 to 10,000 ft.² and larger.
Continually investing in technology and training, Allied Modular’s philosophy remains, ‘Your Projects, Our Passion,’ as the company endeavors to build on its hard-earned reputation and strive toward even greater heights. Investing over $1 million in leading Microsoft project management software, Allied has the ability to track all projects from start to finish. Known for its quality, for outstanding customer service, and for genuinely listening to the needs of clients, Allied Modular conducts itself with professionalism and integrity on every project. This unwavering commitment to quality has earned the company numerous new and satisfied repeat customers, including all branches of the United States government and NASA, along with blue-chip businesses such as Toyota, Boeing, and Nike, to name just a few.
Standing Out from the Pack
While not alone in the field of modular structures, Allied continues to build on its reputation for quality, respect for the environment, durability, ease of assembly, and commitment to building codes and designations. Allied was among the first to obtain and maintain classification for raceway products from Underwriters Laboratories, better known as UL, the U.S.-based worldwide safety consulting and certification company overseeing safety standards for electrical devices and components. Additionally, the company adheres to International Code Council (ICC) approval for certain structural products, and also meets the 2008 National Electric Code (NEC) with its UL Classification, one of the few modular companies to do so.
“It isn’t easy, and it takes a lot of time and navigating for all those corridors to get the certification,” explains Fredriksen. With certain clients and government contracts requiring particular specifications, the team decided it was necessary to obtain them to maintain an edge over the competition. Fredriksen chuckles when the subject of competitors comes up. “Every time we come out with a new angle, others are doing the same thing within a year,” he shares. Initially starting out in what are known as ‘partitions,’ Allied soon realized the company was much more, and incorporated the concept of ‘building systems’ into its work. “And before we knew it, a lot of the other guys started calling themselves building systems, and not partitions anymore. We really aren’t partitions, we’re full-fledged buildings, so I really think we helped pave the way.”
Although others may imitate them, Allied remains at a distinct advantage in the production of high quality modular products. Allied’s products are extremely durable, can be reconfigured, are customizable and designed to maximize space, and save customers time and money. Unlike products made from cast concrete, Allied’s modular structures are made with polyisocyanurate – better known as polyiso – a strong, lightweight rigid thermal product. With polyiso in the center, panels are constructed with powder-coated steel or aluminum on either side so they don’t rust. Using other elements such as a steel base and melamine, which is easy to keep clean, Allied’s products are designed, engineered, and manufactured to be installed quickly by factory-trained installation teams. This is especially advantageous when installing modular offices within existing facilities; unlike messy, noisy and dusty traditional construction methods, Allied’s modular products are designed to be installed without downtime, and with minimal disruption.
In addition to being durable, highly customizable, available in a variety of colors and virtually maintenance-free, Allied Modular products can be moved from one location to another – the same cannot be said for structures made from wood, screws, and drywall. “We use materials that are non-corrosive, easy to build with, and can wear the test of time and hold up in tough environments,” says Fredriksen. “While other companies use different materials, they just don’t last. You might pay a little bit more now, but your building will be around a lot longer.”
With structures that can be completed often in half the time of traditional construction methods, Allied Modular’s products are exceptionally well-planned. To keep the cost of hiring an electrician down, the company’s panels are outfitted with UL listed channels known as raceways, fitted with wiring for electrical, phone, and data lines, along with duplexes, switches, and more. “When the product shows up, you don’t need like an electrician: it’s basically all plug-and-play.” In some cases, Allied’s customers compared their modular structures to others that were not pre-wired, and were shocked to realize the cost of an electrician alone was more than that of the entire building. “When we tell customers that our buildings are already pre-wired, they are dumbfounded. They are UL listed, and it’s not just a channel. The channel itself has a faceplate on it, and you can get inside – you don’t have to open up a wall to get inside, open it up, and patch it. With ours, you just get right in there.”
A LEED certified company, Allied Modular ships the bulk of its products across North America, but works in other countries as well. At present, the company is erecting a two-story test facility for Wrigley, the well-known chewing gum company, at its Chicago facility. The facility will then be disassembled, put onto pallets, and shipped to Africa to serve as a new facility in the continent. “So it truly is an amazing product when you think you can erect it, test it, put it back onto the pallets, ship it to Africa, and reinstall it there.” The best part is, with modular construction all the components are there, tested and ready to go – there is no need for additional supplies or construction materials.
Built to last, Allied has also created guard houses to withstand the toughest conditions – such as the middle of a desert sandstorm in Iran – and others for Navy SEALs in San Diego with a special bulletproof glass and walls lined with a Kevlar-type of material, including those in the raceway. It is not uncommon for the company to also create structures that are blast-proof and fire-rated.
With a focus on quality from start to finish, Allied Modular works with customers through all aspects of the process, from design to completion. Using highly-trained installers, many of them from the construction sector, the structures are assembled and tested at the company’s facilities. In addition to clients often supplying photos of the location for their new structure, Allied’s design managers will fly or drive to the actual site, take precise measurements, look at challenges or obstacles, and evaluate how best to value engineer the entire project and optimize its location. With the majority of structures assembled at the company’s facilities, palletized, and then delivered to the jobsite where install teams or local facilities erect the structure, Allied protects all products with a steel base (far more durable than wood for forklifting), carefully protects all windows, seals all cracks, tests the product, and signs off before the structure is encased in protective wrap and delivered to the customer.
With a worldwide movement toward green initiatives and waste reduction, Allied is working toward zero waste building, largely achievable with modular structures which can be assembled, disassembled, and moved to a new location. Cutting-edge technology leaders such as Google are embracing modular construction, and even the City of Boston – bidding on the 2024 Olympics – is incorporating a modular city, which can be taken down and repurposed. The same cannot be said for drywall, screws, and other traditional construction materials that often end up in landfill when demolished.
“There are a lot of things out there going on in the modular world,” says Fredriksen. Striving to differentiate itself from the competition, Allied realizes it is on a mission: to educate customers about the many benefits of modular construction over old-fashioned methods. Attending a trade show on modular in Las Vegas, Fredriksen was shown a pie chart representing all modular construction across America – a small sliver – and told that an increase of just two percent would translate into an additional $50 billion in business for all modular companies. With companies like Google, Apple, and FedEx on board with modular construction, Fredriksen believes the time for a shift to modular is now. “Companies like Google are checking out modular, and realizing it’s not so strange or so different, and that it has a lot of potential. We are only a tiny sliver on a pie chart right now, but with all these smart companies using modular, imagine what will happen. It will be pretty big.”