Skip to content

BECC Modular: Manufacturing for Future Generations Through Industrialization and Improvement

Screenshot (199)

Ali Ozden is the CEO of BECC Modular

The Toronto-based modular manufacturer BECC Modular has made a name for itself by championing sustainable structures that are not only efficient, but resilient, and future-proof. CEO Ali Ozden’s background as a carpenter only helps solidify the company’s stance. The company aims for constant improvements via build time, developing an industrialized “library” of parts, and cost, but also in creating structures that can withstand the changing times. It’s a lofty goal—and something that you might think is more for a sci-fi novel—but it’s all for his children, he says.

“I was talking with my wife one day, and I just asked her, ‘what would be our legacy for our kids?’” said Ali. “What would be something they can talk about and they could be proud of us?” His personal legacy complements BECC Modular’s ethos and dedication to building everything right from the bottom up. So how did this carpenter end up dedicating a business to sustainable building and manufacturing efficient, future-proofed structures?

Screenshot (198)

"BECC Modular said the dwellings we are building should be bult to Net Zero standards, " said Ali. "You know, basically building a development that would offset the energy that's used or needed to heat or cool. But then once we realized that the smartest way to attain Net Zero is basically build developments with higher standards."

Setting the Foundation With Steel

Ali started off his career as a red seal carpenter over 20 years ago, building his own steel business with the goal to eventually bring turnkey solutions to customers. In fact, he’s had a hand in building over 500 structures since then. “Be Creative and Be Capable” was the impetus and eventual motto for the name of BECC Construction Ltd., which was originally focused on building two-dimensional panelized structures.

Ali’s company expanded and created BECC Modular in 2020 to focus on volumetric structures. To date, BECC Modular has built just over 250 modules in Canada, with goals to expand in the U.S. But Ali hammers out BECC Modular’s mission down to one sentence. “I would say that we are in the business of manufacturing industrialized developments for future generations.” This mission is something that’s also baked into their structures, which follow Net Zero and Passive House design principles to create carbon neutral buildings.

The Goal of Passive House Principles and Net Zero

You can’t build a future-forward structure that meets Net Zero ambitions without first applying Passive House Principles, says Ali. “People say they know because they hear about it,” said Ali. “But hearing it is something else, and knowing is something else. These are flashy words, you know, but what are they?” For Ali, it’s about addressing emissions problems head on across the industry. According to the UN Environment Programme, about 39 percent of CO2 emissions come from the building and construction industry as of 2022. Of that 39 percent, 11 comes from the construction industry and 28 is contributed by building operations, says the World Green Building Council. These numbers weigh on him.

“We [BECC Modular] said the dwellings we are building should be built to Net Zero standards,” said Ali. “You know, basically building a development that would offset the energy that’s used or needed to heat or cool. But then once we started getting into it, we realized that the smartest way to attain Net Zero is basically build developments with higher standards.” This is why Passive House comes first for BECC Modular. It’s about making sure modules are created with up-to-date glycol-based heating and cooling systems; triple-paned windows; airtight construction; and other things. Only when these principles are met, can a building’s foundation be set for achieving Net Zero. That’s the sustainable value, but not the only reason why BECC Modular wants to achieve these ambitions.

“Government agencies and municipalities have requirements and a preference for buildings with standards ready for net zero,” said Ali. These building codes and goals trickle down from governments to municipalities, providing a win-win situation for both the country, and companies like BECC Modular that win those contracts. “It allows us to be a preferred vendor,” he said. “But it does require a lot of R&D, as you have these principles to meet. It all just comes in handy when you’re combining these goals.” And the other part? The technology. Ali puts it simply: “When one builds a cell phone or an iPad, they don’t build with technology from the 1950s and 60s. They build on today’s [tech] or the projected technology of a year, two years down the road,” he said. “What’s the life cycle of that? If the lifecycle of the phone is three years, you know, they basically projected and built it on those requirements. It would be a shame for us to build developments with the requirements from the 1980s or 90s. So I think we need to build our buildings with the future in mind. We’re talking 50 or 70 years. We need to build with technology that is future-forward. And that’s the conviction that drives us."

Hiring Quick to Build Quick? Listen to Advice, Says Ali

In 2020, amidst the pandemic, BECC Modular was in a position to hire—and hire quickly—for its factory and overall focus on volumetric structures. In fact, their first design project was awarded in 2020 and finished in 2021. From 2020 to now, BECC Modular grew to a team of over 100, bringing the total number
of people to just over 250 across all three of Ali’s companies. But hiring for a modular manufacturing business was new for Ali. He asked for advice around the industry on how to start, how to hire, and what kind of skills to focus on first.

“I was lucky enough to meet with some of the leading consultants that have been in the industry,” said Ali. “I was very humbled by some of the things that I’ve heard, seen, and what they shared with me. And I think one good thing for me was that I actually listened to what they said. A lot of the people coming from a construction background, when they get into modular manufacturing, they’re like, ‘no, that’s not how I’m gonna do it.’ But I would say you should listen to those people, that’s the best thing that you can do for yourself.” After hiring these crucial leaders, he highlighted what he considers three key positions for anyone starting a modular manufacturing company:
• VP of Design
• A plant manager
• A sales leader

His first hire was a strong VP of design and a design team. For general construction, design was relegated to outside consulting— which was what Ali was used to. But modular manufacturing is nothing without a strong designer. So he went ahead, hired his head of design, and then they hired their team–another 20 to 30 people.

The second necessary hire? A plant manager. “We needed someone that understood how to set up the plant, and that’s not something that exists in general contracting or in the commercial construction world,” said Ali. “So we needed to learn, but again, we hired one person, and then they hired 50 or 60 from then onward."

And lastly, having a sales team and executive that could act as a bridge and fill in the knowledge gaps between the plant, the designers, and the clients. “You have an estimating team [in construction], so that’s your sales team,” said Ali. “But here we figured out that you really need a different type of sales team that could basically go out and do outreach and educate the client base."

Improvement Through Experience, Iterations, and Efficiencies

With the goal of industrializing modular manufacturing comes a lot of lessons in efficiency, says Ali. “There’s a flow and I would say it took us a year and a half to get that flow,” says Ali. “But I think it’s a Kaizen concept, right? You have to keep improving all the time.” Over the years, BECC has been able to improve in two significant areas: cost and time. Ali says they have reduced the cost of their chassis by a significant amount. And in terms of time? While he says that they aren’t quite there yet with the ideal amount of hours spent on completing a module, the company has reduced manufacturing hours by over 40 percent thanks to efficiencies. For example, the chassis is now on its fourth or fifth iteration, with major changes made to the corners and welding time. BECC Modular made the decision to move their steel manufacturing from cutting and welding steel plates together to bending larger sheets of steel at specific angles.

“That didn’t just save us money in terms of the material cost, but it also saved us a tremendous amount of time on labor, in welding it and putting it together,” said Ali. “And simpler designs are more elegant and efficient."

5 Practices to Build Your Foundation for Modular Manufacturing

While you can’t beat experience, Ali says there are five things you should keep in mind when building a modular factory or entering the manufacturing industry:

1. Precise design: “Precision comes from design and product for us,” says Ali. His product choice is steel, but it doesn’t matter what you pick. It’s about knowing the ins and outs of your choice of product and how it will affect your design.

2. Climate-controlled construction: It’s about managing time when building your design in the factory, and making sure you are prepared for delivery (i.e., weatherproofing any sensitive points) so there are no issues when it comes to installing on-site.

3. Unifying your industrial design processes: Build your industrial library as best you can. While there is no set industry standard for sizes of modules, Ali encourages you to figure out what your best sizes are for walls, how to streamline your product choices, and create a repeatable manufacturing process.

4. High level of quality control: Make sure you introduce quality control into your process early and consistently. This means not only meeting CSA standards, but also having in-house QA staff that can answer and educate various stakeholders during any factory visit.

5. Speed: Manufacturing modules is not a linear process, unlike on-site construction. “A module manufacturer can actually be building all these things at the factory while you are doing the on-site work, excavating and more.” It comes down to the industrialization and automation of manufacturing modules and speeding up those processes through constant improvement.

About the Author: Karen P. Rivera is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for storytelling. She is former United Nations-based reporter, with experience covering international breaking news, venture capital, emerging healthcare tech, and the video game industry.

More from Modular Advantage

Repetition, Communication, and Coordination: A QSR Case Study

This modular QSR project seemed like any another modular building on the surface. Inside, it was anything but. The rhythm, the desire to iterate and repeat, and the constant communication between all parties made it stand out.

Modular Architecture: Thinking Outside of the Box with Sara.Ann Logan

At a time when modular buildings were still seen as less than by many in the architecture and construction world, Sara.Ann Logan took the plunge and partnered to launch a design-build firm that designed, built, and constructed modular high-end single-family homes. But even though she could see the value of this kind of construction, it wasn’t universally accepted.

Colorado Developer ‘Attacks’ Attainable Housing Crisis

City, county, and state government bodies are reaching out to Fading West Development, a modular manufacturer and developer in Buena Vista, CO, to learn more about how they are using modular construction to solve the affordable housing crisis in Colorado. Governments are eager to learn how they’ve made modular development successful and profitable while meeting the growing need for affordable housing.

CES Group’s Stuart Cameron Will Convince You the Moon Is Achievable with Modularized MEP

While most people think of construction as a gradually layered process, MEP assemblies—such as the modular ones—tend to provide all-in-one installs, like a car factory. A modular MEP product helps developers, architects, and fellow modular manufacturers reach their goals through early integration and planning. MEP assemblies address all the unseen things like electrical, heating, and plumbing when looking at a finalized building. The very nature of MEP assemblies are crucial to any initial prospectus.

Automation: The Future for Offsite Modular Construction

Offsite modular construction lags far behind other industries in embracing and adopting automation. Some people believe it will decrease jobs. Others feel they’ve done okay without it, so why change? In reality, conventional construction methods simply cannot keep up. Cooper Lane of Brave Control Solutions points to the labor shortage and the housing crisis that’s rampant in Canada, the U.S., and globally.

Seizing the Modular Construction Opportunity

The CSA Public Policy Centre’s new report, Seizing the Modular Construction Opportunity, highlights how innovative modular methods can help to bring various building forms—from single unit housing to complex high-rises—online more quickly. Owing to efficient manufacturing practices and controlled factory environments, modular can achieve completion rates that are 25% to 50% faster than conventional construction approaches.

Structural versus Cyclical: What Matters More?

A new set of considerations have induced leaders of major global manufacturing enterprises to reconsider their site selection decisions. Among these are: 1) a desire for simpler logistics emphasizing shorter transit distances and times; 2) a need to better protect intellectual property; 3) more reliable court systems; 4) incentives offered by the USMCA, America’s trade deal with Canada and Mexico; and 5) a recent set of subsidies offered under packages like the Chips and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.

How Air Caster Technology Has Helped Improve Modular Building Manufacturing

Air casters mean flexibility, not just in terms of movement but also in terms of change. For example, one structure might be 56-feet-long and another 76-feet-long. Air casters allow manufacturers to easily accommodate a variety of shapes and sizes of boxes and then make changes on the fly.

The Building Industry Needs a Moonshot Speech

In his “Moonshot” speech in 1962, President Kennedy challenged his fellow citizens to land a man on the moon and bring him safely back to earth before 1970. He showed leadership, reimagining human potential and progress, and this famous speech has been an inspiration for many to get things done. Likewise, a “Home-shot” speech that challenges citizens to remove lengthy procedures and “carefully” remove some of the mountain of red tape required for permitting before 2030 would certainly make a huge difference.

How Issa Nesheiwat Conquered the Great Manufacturer/Design Divide

Born in Jordan forty years ago, Nesheiwat is something of an outsider to the modular housing world. His entrepreneurial spirit led him from a childhood growing up in Yonkers, New York, to the more provincial location of Poughkeepsie where he delved into many unique business ventures. Not one to shy away from a challenge, he took on projects that seemed impossible, often in the housing sector. His innate sense of the fundamentals in finance, corporate branding, and business expansion have led him to where he is today.