I had been following DMD Modular, located in Poland, on LinkedIn for a year prior to meeting CEO Ewelina Wozniak-Szpakiewicz at the Advancing Prefabrication event. It was the perfect place to connect considering Wozniak was speaking at the conference.
DMD Modular is the modular building partner involved in the largest Marriott hotels in New York City. During our meeting, I was impressed and delighted by Wozniak’s spirit and demeanor.
What attracted you to your current CEO position with DMD Modular?
It was a position and company that evolved at the same time. My interests were in the alternative approach to construction. My education allowed me to look at alternative architecture approaches, and I felt comfortable in the nontraditional space. But mostly, I was attracted to opportunity and challenge to grow a concept and a company.
I understand you love architecture, and that’s your background. Why did you get involved in modular construction?
Why does any architect get involved in construction? From the great pyramids to the cathedrals in Europe, the architect was the master builder. Only recent history has pushed architects out of the construction process, but with design-build and design-led projects, we see architects more involved once again. Modular construction needs to be part of the design narrative when a project is conceived. I saw of mix of conditions and opportunities that were exciting and comfortable for me.
In your opinion, are there limitations to modular design for commercial projects?
There are some practical limits, but not the ones that we typically hear. Modular is high quality, and can be used in a myriad of design themes. The practical ones are around open spaces and volume spaces. But modular does not have to be the entire solution. With less than 5% of the market being developed with modular construction, there is a long way to go and tremendous opportunity.
What did you learn from the Modular Building Institute while working there? Did that organization contribute to your career?
No doubt, the Modular Building Institute had significant impact on my activities and career. In 2015, I joined the first World of Modular where I had an opportunity to meet many fantastic and inspiring people. Networking with industry peers and colleagues offers an unbelievable opportunity to learn. I was fresh to the industry and the experience of others has guided me well.
I am also honored to be one of the inaugural members of the European Council of Modular Building Institute. With the team at EU Council of MBI, we are working on building MBI in Europe. In October 2019, we had a very successful second European MBI Summit, which took place in Poland.
What is your great strength in the board room with your team of advisors or investors?
My energy and passion, which is genuine. They understand my commitment, and it makes it easier for others to commit as well. Directness and transparency, which is the key element to build honest and successful relationships. My extremely high expectations of DMD, which give the customer a feeling of comfort.
When will you start breaking ground on the hotel in NYC?
DMD is not responsible for the site development. I believe that the ground breaking started with the demolition of an existing seven-story building in March 2018, and continued with excavation and foundation work in June of 2018.
How long did the planning take place for that project?
The planning for modules started in September 2017 and was 95% complete in May 2018, so about nine months.
Which architect and structural engineering firm was contracted for that hotel?
Why did that hotel decide to work with your team on that project?
The CM and owner decided that DMD would be the best collaborative partner for the project based on the initial prototype construction. The DMD facility, the experience of the staff, our ability to provide high-end finishing and the financial stability of the company were probably the key reasons. Despite being a young company, DMD was eager to show their skill and competitiveness in the U.S. marketplace.
What advice can you offer other women wanting to get involved in Modular construction?
The same advice I would give men: Follow your passions and instincts. With a great opportunity for growth, your talent and skills will prove worthy.
Audree Grubesic is owner of Modular Sure Site, a general contractor for modular homes, and president of Connect Home Builders, a licensed modular home builder. She can be reached at [email protected].