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From Engineer to Educator, Garry Vermaas Expands the Offsite Construction Industry

Garry Vermaas is a fourth-generation Dutch boy from Holland, and construction had always been in his blood. From a young age, he had been involved in tying rebar, pouring concrete, and building structures. His love for construction led him to pursue a degree in civil engineering and eventually a PhD from Columbia University in engineering mechanics. Audree Grubesic founder of Offsite Dirt, connected with Garry to get his take on the industrialized construction arena and his solutions to this growing industry.

In 2009, Garry and his friends came together to start a tech firm called Base4. With a team of architects and engineers, they set out to be cutting-edge in the industry. They embraced technology, working 100% in Revit and utilizing AI and programming to enhance their work. Base4 quickly grew to become a 200-plus firm with offices in various countries around the world.

As the years went by, Garry noticed that the price of construction was continuously increasing without any viable solutions. This led him and his team to explore the world of industrialized construction (IC). They delved into modular construction, prefabricated elements, and various other offsite solutions. Unlike traditional architects, Base4 started their projects by creating shop drawings and then building the actual structures based on those drawings.

Their unique approach and expertise attracted the attention of many clients, both in the United States and internationally. They worked on projects in the hospitality and multifamily sectors, leaving their mark with impressive designs and builds.

Garry believed that there was a need for better education in the construction industry. He recognized that construction was a complex field requiring a deep understanding of codes, designs, products, and various trades. So, in 2019, he founded Stonepile, a university offering associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees in construction leadership, prefab modular, and offsite construction. Stonepile provided comprehensive online education, filling the gap in construction education.

One of Garry's students at Stonepile, Chip Parsley of Poynter Prefabricated Solutions, stood out and impressed him with his dedication and skills. After graduation, Chip started really focusing on offsite construction and now it integrated with Poynter's solutions. The education provided by Stonepile helped Chip excel in his career and focus on the right clients for their business.

As Base4 and Stonepile continued to grow, Garry noticed that the construction industry was in need of significant change. The industry's fragmentation, multitude of companies, and lack of integration were the main culprits behind increasing costs and project delays. Garry believed that solving the business plan problem was the key to achieving cheaper and faster construction. He advocated for vertical integration, where one company controlled the entire process from design to manufacturing into construction.

Garry observed that the most successful projects were those where companies designed their own projects, controlled the pipeline, and even rented out the completed spaces. This approach allowed for a seamless and efficient workflow, ultimately resulting in operating businesses rather than just products.

The future of the construction industry, according to Garry, lay in vertical integration and companies that could offer a comprehensive solution. He saw great potential in those who started with raw land, set up their own factories, produced their own products, and controlled the entire process until they had a fully operational business. This holistic approach promised the potential for true innovation and cost reduction.

Garry Vermaas and his teams at Base4 and Stonepile continued to make significant contributions to the construction industry. Their dedication to innovation, education, and integrated solutions brought about positive change in the field, paving the way for a more efficient and cost-effective future in construction.


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