Philadelphia module manufacturer merges with steel system manufacturer

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According to CEO Vaughan Buckley, Volumetric Building Companies’ recent merger with a foreign manufacturer will expand the Philadelphia-based company’s operations and expand its capabilities.

Poland-based Polcom is a modular steel building and custom furniture manufacturing conglomerate for the hospitality industry with clients including Citizen M, Marriott, Hilton, IHG, Kimpton and Accor. The deal will combine VBC’s timber construction technology with Polcom’s modular steel systems. Polcom will continue to operate all of its current facilities in Poland.

The merger, which officially closed on January 1, has created a company with more than 500 employees across two continents and a business pipeline in excess of $1 billion. according to a press release. Before the merger, VBC had around 250 employees. The global company is led by Buckley and his leadership team in Philadelphia.

The merger comes after that VBC bought Katerra’s assets in Tracy, California in August, including its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility for $21.25 million.

Here, Construction Dive speaks with Buckley about the goals of the merger, Polcom’s future, and VBC’s overall focus.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

CONSTRUCTION DIVE: What are the goals of this merger?

VAUGHAN BUCKLEY: The result of the merger was really just the creation of a very strong global entity. The aim of the merger was that we would have the opportunity to diversify the market mix.

Vaughan Buckley (left) with Tomasz Modzelewski, CEO of Polcom

Approval granted by Volumetric Building Companies

Polcom is very experienced in hospitality. VBC is very experienced in the area of ​​multi-family and student housing. Being able to share this knowledge between companies will allow both to diversify. Polcom primarily builds very tall buildings with eight to over 20 floors. VBC builds four to eight story buildings. Now, any client who comes to us, pretty much anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere around the world, who wants to see three to 30 story buildings in hospitality, multifamily or college dormitories, we can now serve from one of our departments. And that’s really, really exciting for us.

Are there any plans to discontinue the Polcom brand?

I would say instead of shutting down Polcom I would probably phrase it a little differently. We will integrate the Polcom and VBC brands over the next few months. And this alignment will result in a consistent branding across the world. We don’t currently plan to remove the Polcom brand, but we expect the companies to have a unified brand within the next six months.

Does the fusion change the focus in any way? Polcom has experience in the hospitality industry. Will VBC focus on that now?

For us, it’s less about changing the focus of what we do and more about expanding capabilities within our existing focus. Our focus is on high-density housing, which up to now has been up to eight floors, hotels, college dormitories and apartment buildings. Now there are up to 30 floors and there are hotels, dormitories and apartment buildings. So it’s more of an expansion of our capabilities than a change in focus.

One of your goals is the Production of modular components. Does this merger help?

Yes, now we are talking about having factories on the east coast, west coast and in Europe all making products for the same markets. So yes, this is a big step for us in this productization part because now we have the ability to actually build products and commit resources to the design and specification of the platform that this product resides on globally.

And that is very closely related to our announcement of new employees yesterday. The role of CTO for VBC has been filled by Helena Lidelöw, former Head of R&D and Design at Lindbäcks in Sweden. So it comes from what is probably one of the most advanced modular construction companies in the world and is very specialized in the development of platforms and products. So if we bring them to VBC and engage more sites within VBC, we can have a bigger impact on that faster.

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