Modular Building Institute

2013 Hall of Fame Recipients 
Tom Arnold & Floyd Ellsworth Bigelow, Jr

Tom Arnold
President and Founder of T.R. Arnold and Associates

Tom Arnold’s biography reads like the criteria for a Hall of Fame Inductee. 
Tom has dedicated much of his life to his company, to the point where it is difficult to distinguish the man from his company. His company has demonstrated success in the manufactured buildings industry for more than 40 years. As an employee-owned firm, his company has provided services to the industry since 1967, comprised of engineering approval, drafting, plant layout, third party modular plan review and inspection services.

Tom’s company has been bringing total electronic coordination to its clients since 2000. The company has a very simple, efficient, totally paperless system for plan review and approval, helping to reduce costs and improve project turn around time for clients.

And Tom has always been a good corporate citizen, serving on the MBI Board of Directors in the mid 1990s. Tom was recognized by the association in 2002 as the recipient of our Outstanding Achievement Award. He remains an active member of the association, always ready to offer his insights and experience on timely topics such as the Green Building Code. We are proud to welcome Tom Arnold into MBI’s Hall of Fame.


F.E. Bigelow, Jr.
Founder of Porta-Kamp

Floyd Ellsworth Bigelow, Jr. was born November 12, 1929 in Detroit, Michigan. His father grew up working in coal mines and held many jobs, and his mother immigrated to the US as a child from Germany.

He had an uncle named Ray Roush who worked for Henry Ford, who made it possible for him to attend The Ford Trade School when he was 13 years old. Although he attended the school for only a year, this experience would later to contribute the development and success of Porta-Kamp when Porta-Kamp implemented assembly line production methods.

In 1952, he married Betty Bassett.  In 1954, Mr. and Mrs. Bigelow became parents with the arrival of their first child, F.E. Bigelow III, nicknamed Bo. The young couple could not afford much in the way of entertainment and going to the beach on Galveston Island was all they could afford. The only problem was Floyd did not like the sand, the sun and the Texas mosquitos.  

So, he developed a canvas, screened tent type structure that could be packed on top of the family car for his personal use. While camping on Galveston Island, Floyd was approached by a man who was wade fishing. The fisherman turned out to be a drilling superintendent who was on leave from a project in Central America where they were living in tents and the leaches and mosquitos were eating them alive. He wanted to buy six of Floyd’s campers and of course Floyd said yes, and building these six units cost most of his savings.  

With the help of a family and friends, Floyd founded Porta-Kamp with $1000 in 1955 and incorporated in 1956. He initially began exhibiting Porta-Kamp at various Texas stock and boat shows.  

In the early 1960’s, Porta-Kamp's projects began to grow in size and the speed of construction became critical.  It was at this point that Floyd’s year at the Ford Trade School changed Porta-Kamp and the industry forever. Porta-Kamp implemented the method of assembly line production and standardization. During the next two decades, Porta-Kamp became a world leader in the field of remote area housing, producing products and providing services to projects in more than 150 countries around the world. Porta-Kamp had grown from a handful of employees to a company operating multiple plants in Houston, employing more than 600 people and producing: Remote Area Camps, Permanent Prefabricated Homes and Structures, Offshore Quarters, Helicopter Lift Structures, Control Rooms and many special project type units.

In 1984, Porta-Kamp entered into the domestic commercial modular industry for the first time and that was the same year the Porta-Kamp joined the industry association known today as the Modular Building Institute. Porta-Kamp became a wholesale manufacturer and established long term relationships with independent and major leasing companies alike. Floyd directed the company to stay loyal as a manufacturer to the leasing companies in lieu of competing with his customers.

Floyd Bigelow built a company with the reputation of providing innovative solutions, quality products and first-class customer service. His impact on the industry will continue for years to come through the work ethic, manufacturing methods, designs, products and, most importantly, through the individuals who have worked at Porta-Kamp over the years. We are proud to welcome Floyd Bigelow Jr. into MBI’s Hall of Fame.
For information on MBI's Hall of Fame Awards, click here.

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