Construction Today - Volume 16, Issue 2 - 37
'We're showing the market that container-based building is a real possibility.'
of Modular Conference, hosted by the Modular Building Institute in
Fortress Obetz was one of two Falcon Structures projects recognized
during the conference. The company also earned an award for its
work on an emergency response training structure in Nevada.
Falcon Structures' recent awards reflect the company's dedication to the modular approach. "We're building container-based
structures in half the time stick-built buildings call for," Shang says.
"Because we have a robust, time-tested manufacturing system in
place, we're side-stepping the usual construction pitfalls. Customers
get their structures on time and on budget."
Located just east of Austin, Texas, the company's factory serves
customers across the United States. The factory is segmented into
four areas, or "domes," where staff perform welding, carpentry, electrical, finish-out and painting functions. Rigorous quality checks are
performed at each stage of the process as a container moves through
The U.S. military trains at a
shipping container mock village
created by Falcon Structures
the domes. The five-acre facility can produce four repurposed shipping containers a day, the company notes.
Falcon Structures' quality process is the result of a quality management system it invested in eight years ago. "Quality is a continuous journey," Shang says. "Each improvement to our system, no
matter how small, is a benefit to the customer. In the end, it all adds
up to a superior product and experience."
Shang emphasizes that this is a big difference between choosing
a manufacturer, like Falcon Structures, to modify containers as
opposed to hiring a contractor to do welding on the construction site.
"We're working with shipping containers every day. Not only can
we make the modifications faster and higher quality, but we're in a
position to help with the design process for container-based buildings," Shang says. "We know the strengths and limitations of this
building material, and we'll steer our customers to something that
we know is going to be safe and implementable."
'Laying it On'
Falcon Structures has evolved significantly since Shang and EVP of
Products Brian Dieringer founded it in 2003 as a portable storage
In 2008, the Great Recession led the company to pivot its operations. "Before that, the construction industry accounted for about
two-thirds of our rental business. When the recession hit and the industry crashed, we were left with too many unrented containers on
our lot," Shang says. "It was a stressful time for the business, but we
told our employees that we were not going to do layoffs - we were
going to instead 'lay it on,' and find new uses for our containers."
Falcon Structures' "lay it on" philosophy led it to the U.S. Department of Defense, which at the time was the only entity regularly
spending money on projects. In 2009, an Armed Forces training
officer asked a Falcon Structures salesperson if the company could
provide a training village used to prepare troops for overseas
deployment. Shortly after Shang met with the officer, the company
completed the project by fabricating 39 modified containers in Manor and shipping them to San Antonio.
Between 2009 and 2013, Falcon Structures led the market in
building Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) training
facilities that included simulated schools, mosques and marketplaces. One of the company's largest projects of this kind was a
"city" consisting of 700 containers. "We never said 'die' and instead
vigorously explored what else we could do with these [containers],
and that opened our eyes to modular construction," Shang says of
the company's approach during the recession.
Since 2014, the company has expanded beyond the military
sector to offer prefabricated container-based structures to industrial,
commercial and other clients. Falcon Structures' industrial clients
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