Randy Miller is a third-generation contractor who began his career in the construction industry crawling around his father’s job sites at a very young age. After completing a BS in mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley, Miller attended graduate school at Stanford University where he completed an MS in Civil Engineering with an emphasis in construction engineering and management.
After graduation, Miller gained practical experience with a major concrete subcontractor in Los Angeles. Miller then rotated through each of the key operating areas for a large construction business: cost estimating, supervision, and project management.
Starting out as a general contractor, Miller completed a diverse range of project types but grew frustrated with business as usual in the construction industry. He observed that a high percentage of projects devolved into active disputes between owner, design team, and contractor. Standard contracting procedures put these parties at odds with each other and impeded work. Designers were incentivized to produce incomplete designs rather than taking the time to refine their designs to hone in on optimal solutions. Owners lacked the sophistication to identify wastes in their project-delivery programs. Contractors were incentivized to apply change orders at every opportunity. On top of all this, the construction process was stuck in the dark ages. Productivity had been stagnant for decades. The industrial revolution had somehow skipped over one of the economy’s largest industries.
Miller was convinced that a vertically integrated company that developed projects on its own account with its own design, engineering and construction teams could achieve dramatic efficiency improvements over the conventional design-bid-build project approach. In some ways this represented a reversion back to the renaissance period concept of the “master-builder.”
Miller’s premise proved correct. The vertically integrated design-build construction and real estate development company that he founded quickly developed three successful medical building projects in Southern California. These projects achieved dramatic cost and schedule improvements over conventional delivery methods and created excellent above market returns while producing architectural accolades and awards from all over the country.
Creating value through vertical integration relies on a unique skill set, and success depends on a technically savvy, experienced team working in sync to develop real estate. Miller and team identify value from applying his engineering insights, drawing on his in-the-dirt construction experience to identify more efficient ways to build buildings. Few building professionals can claim first-hand knowledge of field construction methods, structural engineering competence, mechanical and electrical engineering understanding, and construction costs. That skill set, combined with an outstanding and credentialed team of professionals who subject each project to intense review and technical analysis, leads to the elimination of waste and inefficiency, and to identifying opportunities to optimize and improve the company’s buildings. Few projects experience the level of technical scrutiny that Miller and his team apply, but for large and complicated projects, dramatic savings have to be achieved through careful systems optimization.
Miller’s company grew based on this approach and the success of its early projects, and began multifamily and mixed-use projects around the San Francisco Bay Area. In examining the multi-family housing construction market Miller identified an opportunity to apply his training in mechanical engineering to the real estate development industry by developing and introducing manufacturing and prefabrication methods to the industry. Miller recognized that production of virtually all other durable goods had become industrialized over the last two centuries but construction had not. Over the same period the cost of construction has risen dramatically in real dollars while so many other product categories have become more affordable.
Miller theorized that industrializing construction, producing buildings in a modular fashion on an assembly line in a controlled environment, had the potential to reduce material costs through purchasing economy and waste reduction by 10%-15% and the potential to reduce labor costs by 65% by employing less skilled labor in a highly productive assembly-line environment.
Miller and his team set out to test this concept with a successful prototype project beginning in 2013. Today we are applying our modular manufacturing and construction methods to hundreds of millions of dollar’s worth of projects across the State of California from our 120,000 square foot manufacturing facility located in Lathrop, California. The company now integrates its real estate development and finance services with talented in-house design and architecture, structural engineering, construction, and best-in-class multi-story modular manufacturing for its projects. We have grown and retained a great and talented team excited about changing the way buildings are built.
Miller consummated a deal to formally partner with Drew Gissinger in 2014. Gissinger’s addition provides an experienced real estate and finance executive to help manage the company’s growth and successfully scale its competitive advantage into a major real estate development and construction enterprise.
As our Type II modular projects are completed and manufacturing processes refined, we have completed the engineering to build Type I high-rise buildings. The site for our first high rise project is in downtown Oakland, with the project design underway and City entitlements pending for us to construct the first modular high rise in California.