Case Studies

Wilmot Modular Structures Inc.

Mobilizing American Ownership and Turnkey Service

Kathy and Mike Wilmot took a leap of faith when the husband and wife duo decided to leave secure jobs to start Wilmot Modular Structures Inc. (WMS). “Kathy grew up working at her parent’s modular building factory and I worked for one of their Dealers,” recalls Mike, president and CEO of WMS. “We decided to start WMS just as a recession hit; a risky move for any new business. With a shoestring budget and a little money we borrowed, we launched WMS.”

The couple’s courage has certainly paid off. Today, WMS is one of the leading family-owned and -operated companies amongst a pack of international corporate giants in the modular structures industry. Since 1989, WMS has remained an American-owned small business providing distribution, sales, construction and leasing of portable, prefabricated, mobile offices and custom modular buildings throughout the Eastern U.S.

Keeping it in the Family

“Most of our competitors have been bought out by large European investors,” explains Kathy, vice president of WMS. “Not many small businesses can do this type of work, because it takes a lot of money initially to build your inventory, but we’ve succeeded now for more than 24 years while keeping our business locally owned; that means a great deal to the general contractors we work with. They know they can speak to the owners, because we don’t have all of those corporate layers.”

WMS has expanded into several divisions over the years – from service and sales of temporary buildings to design-build of multistory permanent prefab construction – all while remaining grounded in family ownership and customer dedication. “Our customers know they can talk to Mike and me,” reassures Kathy. “That’s pretty rare in this business.”

The company works directly with clients from New Jersey to North Carolina out of its headquarters in White Marsh, Md. An experienced team of 30 professionals at WMS custom design and install mobile and modular buildings for administrative offices, day care centers, portable classrooms, construction offices, medical clinics, storage containers and even churches. “Our goal is to meet all of our client’s space and storage needs, no matter the site,” adds Mike. “We now have about 1,000 trailers and modular buildings for lease, as well.”

Direct Design-build Service

WMS provides custom buildings that are an affordable, efficient and fully turnkey solution for any space. “We offer a full range of construction services,” explains Kathy. “From pre-construction planning to designs, delivery, installation and maintenance, we’ve got the bases covered with our newly named Hybrid Division.

Kathy reveals WMS has in-house designers, but also contracts trusted architects and engineers for specialized plans. “About 40 percent of our projects involve modular design-build service,” she shares. “We also work with about five different manufacturers to acquire a wide range of products.”

At a Community College in Norfolk, Va., Mike explains how WMS completed a 30,000-square-foot classroom expansion for 500 students in 136 days. “This project included two modular buildings fully constructed with HVAC, electric and plumbing and substantial site work,” he recalls. “We were on a tight schedule to get the students into the classrooms by the first day of classes.”

From a school site to the side of a mountain, WMS transports and installs structures that work for the situation. “We recently were contacted by a client at a nuclear facility in need of a modular building that could withstand shards of ice dropping from electric lines and pelting the original structure,” reveals Mike. “We built a steel canopy over the modular to deflect the elements.”

Kathy admits operating throughout different states and sites has its challenges. “Since most of the actual construction with modular buildings is done in the manufacturing facility, third-party code inspectors usually approve and seal structures in-house before they ever arrive at the site,” she explains. “The challenge is keeping up with the different changing state and local codes to make sure our fleet of mobile buildings comply with them in each area.”

Between inconsistency of state and county building codes and a sluggish economy, Kathy admits times have been tough for the company. “Our material and building costs have gone through the roof and certain construction markets have completely fallen off the map,” she details. “It’s forced us to diversify outside of our typical customer and product in order to survive. It’s been a struggle to keep our margins up.”

Despite the hardship Kathy and Mike remain optimistic, having pulled WMS through recessions before. “When we founded the company, the economy was slow, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before” reveals Mike. “There’s a lot of promise in new markets and applications, because modular construction is inherently green. There’s less material being hauled into the site, which consumes less fuel, because everything is prefabricated in-house.”

Both Kathy and Mike recently came back from an overseas trip to Europe, which opened the duos’ eyes to the potential in the modular business. “Europe is far ahead of us in this market,” Kathy shares. “Ireland is even moving to completely prefabricated structures as opposed to traditional, because it supports a greener footprint,” Mike adds.

Against all odds, 2014 will mark 25 years in business for WMS, and Kathy is confident the family-owned and -operated company will celebrate another 25 years in the future. Wilmot Modular Structures Inc. continues to offer both temporary and permanent modular building projects grounded in personal service and American ownership.

For more information about Wilmot Modular Structures Inc.., please visit: http://www.wilmotmodular.com.

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