Former cold storage supplier builds warm classrooms

Issue: Volume 102, Number 11

Posted: 24 August 2023
Reference #: 1HAbb7

Annaliese Michel, director of Modcom, tells the inspiring story of how a small Tauranga-based business that supplies cool stores has ended up providing warm and safe learning spaces for tamariki.

Former Cold storage supplier 01

A single teaching space at Vogeltown Primary School in New Plymouth built using the offsite manufacturing delivery method.

The search for a practical waste management solution for their thriving family-run storage solutions business 25 years ago marked the beginning of Modcom’s journey in the field of offsite manufacturing.  

“My father, Rex McIntyre, established Modcom in 1998 as a supporting entity to our cool store and packhouse construction business. It started as we often had materials left over – and rather than sending them to landfill we used them to make buildings,” says Annaliese.  

During their early years, the team worked in a small factory where only two classrooms could be built simultaneously. Their builders worked with a two-metre gap between the structures in progress. In 2019, they were able to move to a bigger workshop – and now, they operate in a huge purpose-built factory that can cater to the Ministry of Education’s growing requirements for offsite manufactured learning spaces.  

Modcom was recently appointed to the Ministry’s panel of pre-approved OMB suppliers who support the Ministry to deliver their programme of work.  

While the company has already been supplying temporary classrooms and ablution blocks for the education sector since 2002, this achievement is a game-changing opportunity for them and for their community.  

“Being on the panel is empowering for our team and we are excited for our future growth and development,” says Annaliese.  

“We have been able to take more of our contracted workers on full-time. This continuity of work enables them to better support their families. We also utilise local subcontractors both within our factory and on site, and this increase in work volume will enable them to grow their businesses and that money will feed back into the local economy.”  

Supporting other local businesses is important for Annaliese, and it’s something that she hopes everyone else would consider.  

“That spend makes a real difference in people’s lives – it can mean more employment and educational opportunities.”  

If at first you don’t succeed, try again  

Making it to the panel was quite a journey requiring perseverance and hard work for Annaliese’s team.  

“We tried to join the panel the last time it was opened, but we were unsuccessful. So, we spent the last three years addressing our shortcomings to ensure that when the next opportunity presented itself, we were ready,” she says.  

In their second attempt to join the panel, Annaliese was pleasantly surprised to see how the Ministry’s procurement team has also worked on improving their engagement approach, which made the experience more meaningful.  

“They made the journey feel like a true partnership. Our experiences, comments and ideas were welcomed, validated and supported,” she says.   

“In this most recent engagement we had with them, we saw real change to the offering and truly felt like we are all on the same team collaborating to deliver quality educational spaces to schools in need.” 

Former Cold storage supplier 02

Built to the same standards as permanent school buildings, this beautiful teaching block at Nelson Park School in Napier was delivered with minimal disruption to school activities.

More than just a business  

It is the reality that most, if not all, businesses are established for profit so that the owners and their workers can make a decent living. Annaliese, however, would like hers to achieve more than that.  

“I’d like to think of Modcom as a service that fulfills a need in our community. I need job satisfaction that we are achieving something more than making money – and the experience of working with the education sector does that,” she says.  

“It is very humbling to get letters from children saying how much they like their new classrooms. It is important to us that our buildings are a part of the school and don’t just look like they were plonked there with no thought.   

“We put a lot of thought and effort into the functionality of our layouts when installing to make it work best for the school and be least intrusive. We care that we supply quality teaching spaces and ablutions and that our installations meet the needs of the school and the Ministry.”  

Many small local businesses tend to pass up government contracts because it has always been associated with onerous requirements and processes. For those who are keen to give it a try, Annaliese has a piece of advice.  

“Don’t be scared by the amount of information that is required – just tackle the RFQs one question at a time. You probably are doing a lot of what they are asking but haven’t ever formalised it. Talk to other companies that are working on government contracts.”  

About OMBs  

Offsite manufacturing is one of the Ministry’s newer property delivery methodologies where learning spaces are built and assembled off site, and then moved onto the school grounds once ready for installation.  

Buildings that have been manufactured using this delivery method are built to the same standards as permanent school buildings and reflect modern teaching environments. They can be delivered in a shorter time frame than traditional classrooms, with less disruption to school activities.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 10:00 am, 24 August 2023

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