Want to build a home faster, better, and more sustainably? Prefabrication is the key. Today’s guest is Garrett Moore, the CEO and Co-Founder of Agorus, offering prefab offsite solutions that can transform how we build homes. He joins host Eric Anderton to explain prefabrication and clear up some misconceptions. Garret dives deep into the positive impact of the new tech on labor, cost, and time for contractors, developers, and homeowners. Listen as they discuss why leaning into this technology can also help issues surrounding housing and the environment. Stay tuned!
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Permit To Keys In 30 Days! How Contractors And Developers Can Use Prefabrication To Build Better With Garrett Moore
How do you go from being a quarterback at Stanford University to joining the SEAL teams to running a company that is looking to transform the construction industry? That is the question we’re going to ask, among many others and get them answered with my guest, Garrett Moore. Garrett is the Cofounder and CEO at Agorus. He brings a career of executive-level leadership and technology expertise to the construction industry.
He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University and a Master’s in Cyber Security from Tel Aviv University. We’re going to dive into the world of prefab. We’re going to touch on the infamous Katerra that tried to boil the ocean and how Garrett’s company is not doing that. They are approaching developers and home builders with a prefab off-site solution that can transform the way that they build homes in terms of the labor force, quality, price, speed, and the impact on the neighborhood. These are all the promises that prefabrication gives to us.
What you’ll see in our interview is how Garrett is taking on the challenges associated with those promises and the work that his company is doing to overcome those challenges. As I always say, enjoy my interview with Garrett. I think you will very much. If you have any feedback on this particular topic, feel free to give it to me. Contact me on my website, ConstructionGenius.com/contact or you can always contact me on LinkedIn. I’m there quite regularly. Enjoy my conversation with Garrett.
Garrett, welcome to the show.
Eric, thank you so much for having me.
It’s a pleasure. I’ve got to start by asking you, how did a quarterback at Stanford get to be a Navy SEAL and then somehow get into construction? It’s an interesting path you’ve been on.
The story of my life might often be wrong but never uncertain. I didn’t grow up in a military family. My dad was a teacher. My mom was a flight attendant. I grew up in Arizona. I love sports and my focus on academics was drilled into me. I got a chance to collide those two at Stanford. I played football. I had an outstanding experience. I played for three different coaches in four different years. The last one is being in Jim Harbaugh. It’s a formative experience as a young man. Quickly in the collegiate world, you realize that you are not as good as you think you are and you feel like an imposter.
You start to see the handwriting on the wall. You’re like, “I can’t keep doing this. I love the sport but I don’t have the talent.” I wasn’t ready to sit behind a desk. With the naivety of a twenty-year-old, now that I’m thinking about this, I thought, “Military is sports for adults. Let’s do that.” I started looking at the military. I started looking at Special Operations. The more I came in contact with the Navy SEALs and the more I met them, I became infatuated with the culture, the camaraderie, and the brotherhood that they had.
At that point, I ended up graduating early. I left for BUD/S and became a SEAL. I spent twelve years as a SEAL doing the usual deployments. I spent a lot of time in the Middle East. I married my high school sweetheart along the way and had three kids. By the third kid and multiple deployments, you start to realize the wear and tear of the job.
Having gone to Stanford, the entrepreneurial bug that bites you being in Silicon Valley went dormant. It never left me. It wasn’t until having multiple kids that I started to feel the wear and tear of that. Also, at the same time, buying and then building my first house. It was an accidental development project in San Diego that I ran headlong into the BUD/S that is construction.
I had a background in Mechanical Engineering. The hubris of a young man, I thought, “How hard can construction be? I’ll just do it myself. I’ll be the general contractor and the project manager.” I got hit in the face with the hard reality. What was interesting about my experiences is I went volumetric. I built off-site modularly.
Concurrently, my best friend and next-door neighbor was building his house stick-built. As these processes are unfolding, we’re watching two different worldviews on construction go up next to each other. We realized that we were dissatisfied with both. We thought to ourselves, “This is an opportunity worth getting out after the SEAL team is over. This is a problem that can be solved.”
At that point, having lived through 2.5 to 3 years of construction, trying to be in the Middle East and calling contractors to track them down for your spouse back in the States was a personal pain point for us. As we started to unpack the industry, we became more passionate about bringing technology into construction and taking a new look at an old take, which is prefab.You can do far more than you think you can. Click To Tweet
I do not pretend to be the first person to think of prefab. It’s been around way longer than I’ve been alive. You go back to Sears catalog homes and it’s not new, and yet it continues to be the siren song that builders and developers say, “Fool me fourteen times, shame on me. I’ve heard this song before.” That’s my long-winded answer to a short question, which is how did you get from that to being passionate about construction and construction technology?
I want to go back to the beginning a little bit because as you described your athletic career, you understood that you hit the ceiling. That’s a hard ceiling in sports. That can’t be overcome no matter how much drive and determination you have if you don’t have the essential athletic ability. That imposter syndrome that we often have when we begin something new, as you went through the SEAL teams and as you started your business, how has that helped you to get through the ups and the downs of starting a business?
One of the most fundamental lessons that BUD/S pounds into you is you can do far more than you think you can. After you’ve gone through 3, 4, 5 or 6 nights without sleep, it resets your baseline for how you view yourself. Even if I think in my heart that I feel like I can’t do X or I feel like I can’t deal with another day with a sick kid, or whatever life problems, that feeling is trumped by a realization and a thought in your head going, “I’ve got a lot more sucked that I can tap into. I’ve got a lot more reserves that are there.”
What it also does is teach you the value of grit. Your talent, athleticism, and all those other things come second to raw desire. One of the things that’s impactful when you go through BUD/S is the most handsome, tallest, buffest, most impressive collegiate athlete or Olympic swimmers, whatever they are, oftentimes are some of the first ones to get weeded out. It’s the small, scrappy, scrawny kid from wherever that grew up milking cows and building fences is tougher than nails. It’s a realization that grit and that drive are one of the greatest currencies in whatever you do. Raising kids, starting a business, dealing with personal health issues, family issues, whatever it is, that grit is such a useful resource for almost anything after BUD/S.
Comparing it to the athletic analogy, you can have tremendous grit and drive but still not be good enough in athletics. Is that correct?
I think it depends. As I’ve gotten older, I would probably have changed my stance on that. I probably wrote off my career because I said, “I don’t have the strength, the body frame, or whatever to play quarterback in the NFL.” Looking back on it, I look at my younger self and go, “Who were you to quit on yourself so early? Tom Brady was a freaking sixth-round draft pick and scrawny.”
In the age-old nature versus nurture debate, I have become far more in the nurturer camp as I’ve gotten older and I’ve spent more time going through the military process. I care far less about nature. If I could go back to my previous self, I would have said, “I don’t care how fast you are. If you want it bad enough, don’t quit.”
That’s interesting to think about because when we’re going through this process of evaluating ourselves or even evaluating others and we come to these crossroads where we have to make a decision, do I continue on the path or do I choose a different path? It sounds like your contention is that with sufficient grit, there is far more than you can achieve than you even think.
I am my greatest worst enemy. I am the one that puts limits on what I can do. This is not a rah-rah, “We’re all great.” It’s largely that there’s a lot more in each of us. We have a lot more depth. A great example is, taking away SEALs or BUD/S or whatever, look at the grit of a single mom. That woman never thought that she would have the gumption to work three jobs to put food on the table for her kids.
Somehow life forces her into a circumstance where she goes far deeper than she ever thought she possibly could. In that realization, she becomes tough, not because she ever sought to become tough, but because it happened out of necessity, “I love my kids. I will do whatever it takes to make this happen. Therefore, I’m going to dig deep because that’s all I have.”
Was there ever a point in BUD/S where you wanted to quit?
This is a contentious issue because a lot of SEALs will tell you everybody thought about quitting at one time. That was not my experience. I thought I was going to drop dead on multiple occasions and not be able to make it and they were going to drag me out. I never had the, “Wouldn’t it be nice to quit?” It was like, “I don’t know if my body can go any further. I might fall over and I hope they don’t let me die out here.”
You were able to sort of do that separation between mind and body and observe yourself, but it wasn’t to the point where you were like, “I can’t take it anymore.”
The analogy I sometimes use is I know in advance that I want to see this movie. The question is, are you willing to pay the price of admission or not? I made up my mind that I’m willing to pay this price and it’s going to hurt. If I can put that in a little box and go, “It’s going to hurt but a lifetime of pride and valor is worth this next week without sleep, cold, discomfort and whatever.” Perhaps my wiring was a little bit easier to rationalize the pain versus the logic.
Do you think your athletic background helped you with that?
I do because one of the things about sports that was transformative and helped me in the SEALs is that I always found in sports that when it sucks, focusing on your teammates makes you forget and care less about how much pain you’re experiencing. BUD/S is such a team environment. You have the opportunity to be focusing on everybody else because they’re in pain, too. In doing so, by focusing on meeting the needs of others, serving them, and being a good teammate or a good swim buddy, you don’t have as much bandwidth to think about yourself and your pain.
Let’s pivot back here then. You decided to build your house and you had your buddy next door, and you went with the off-site approach and he went with a stick-built approach. Did I get that correctly?
Tell me a little bit about that off-site approach. How did you go about that?
In 2016, I thought we had cracked this nut. I’ve started calling around a bunch of modular builders and said, “Can anybody build me a custom home?” I went through seven general contractors first. That should have been my first warning sign. I eventually found one and said, “I’ll take on this crazy project.” We ended up having four giant modules built in Idaho, shipped on the truck, craned in with this massive crane, and set on the foundation. That’s the house I live in until today and I love it. It looks like four cubes stacked on top of each other like Lego blocks.By focusing on meeting the needs of others, serving them, and being a good teammate, you don't have as much bandwidth to think about yourself and your pain. Click To Tweet
This gets into the fundamental reason why I believe prefabrication has not hit the mainstream. It is because there’s something in the American psyche that says, “I want to live in a building that looks like a home.” If I could magically snap my fingers and convince everybody in the US to live in a 20×20 cube, IKEA would have knocked out prefab a long time ago.
This is my core thesis on why prefabrication has never made the inroads into the American market that it has elsewhere. It’s largely because we want to live in something that looks like a home. The prefabrication technologies that have existed to date said either one of two things, “You need to live in these cubes. You can have these cubes rearranged in whatever way you want, but these little bricks are essentially what we can build,” or you end up having to go with the design of the builder rather than you getting to choose your design.
When people think of custom homes, they can carry different connotations. To me, a custom home is an architectural style that matches you. You have a choice on the paint, the flooring, the cabinets, and countertops, whatever it is. Nobody asks for 2×5 studs or 13-gauge Romex or circular studs. The building blocks of a home are not custom. The orientation of those creates a custom design. A custom design is why prefabrication has not penetrated the mainstream market. It’s because customization and prefabrication have never gone in the same sentence before.
Let’s talk about that, customization and prefabrication have never been in the same sentence before.
In the post-industrial revolution, manufacturing has largely been centered around the idea that you get economies of scale by putting an assembly line and repeating the same thing over and over. It’s my iPhone, my table, my pen, whatever it is. They make the same thing. If iPhones had 5, 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3-inch screens and you had 1,000 different permutations of an iPhone geometry, it would make manufacturing them difficult.
In construction, due to variances in style preferences around the country, variances in building codes, and a whole bunch of other things, it’s difficult to standardize because most people want their house to reflect their yard, lot layout and whatever. In a manufacturing environment, you need to be able to translate that customization into a mass market.
Our core technology, trade secrets and patents are all centered around this idea. We’ve built a software that takes the custom and breaks it down into standards. In doing so, it keeps a single digital source of truth through the process, out to our assembly line so that you can build that custom structure as a series of 2D panels.
The cheesy analogy I use is, if you sent our software a picture of the Death Star, it would tell you exactly how many blocks Lego bricks and gray Lego bricks you need to create so that you can send it out on the backside. You manufacture those on an assembly line. All of a sudden, you now have an instruction guide that says, “Put them back together,” and you’ve got your custom structure.
What is the impact on the cost of a custom home when you take something that is custom, you standardize it, and then you have to manufacture it?
The largest savings from a customer centers around time and mostly depend on the market. For a developer or a larger builder, the value of that time carries with it a tremendous amount of cost savings. For the custom one-off like a $10 million home-builder, time is not as important. They may want these incredibly unique high-end custom structures.
To be fully transparent, where we reach the limitations is of light timber. There are structures we cannot build because you cannot build that design without heavy steel. When we talk about the probably $5 million and up home, oftentimes the architect is going to have a floor plan designed or a cantilever approach or some architectural components that may break them outside of our mold.
That said, when we say custom, what we essentially mean is the customer chose the design, not me. That gives them the latitude to say, “For my geography, my niche or whatever, I want the home to look like this,” and then they execute it. What we pass on tremendous cost savings to customers is the fact that your home is getting stood up in hours. That’s less traffic, dumpsters, labor and carrying costs on your capital. It’s all the ancillary benefits as well. Our cost competitiveness in a given market varies but our core thesis and design is to be at or below market everywhere we build.
What is your sweet spot in terms of the type of home that you guys want to build?
Our sweet spot is anything from 300 square foot backyard ADUs, all the way up to 3 and 4-story apartment buildings that can be done out of light timber. Where we start to get outside of scope is when you go increasingly vertical and you start needing steel and concrete woven into the structure to get up into vertical construction.
It also starts to get into homes that are complex architecturally that they cannot be built from light timber and therefore become problematic because then you’re splicing timber and steel at the job site. Our core bread and butter right now are the backyard ADUs, single-family and multifamily that are usually three stories and below in Southern California and Arizona, with the expansion into Texas and Florida, hopefully coming in the next couple of years.
You’re beginning with the ADUs and the smaller homes, but the vision is to move into the larger buildings and the larger homes in the future. Is that right?
Yes, because what’s unique about this is the wall that goes into the fourth story of an apartment building is not any different than the wall that goes into the single-story ADU. You might go into a 2×8 or you might change your stud spacing but in general, the core product that we build on our assembly line can be used wherever.
If you want to take that product because you’re a developer of Section 8 housing, cool. If you want to take that product and you want to build a high-end luxury home like we’re doing up in Tahoe, cool. It doesn’t make a difference to me where the geography is or how nice that ZIP code is. One of the notions people think of is, “You’re a custom home builder or you’re an affordable housing builder.” We’re a technology platform and a high-tech manufacturer that builds a product that developers and builders can use wherever they want.
What sets you guys apart from other folks who are taking a run at the prefab off-site construction?
In general, there are three kinds of prefab-type folks. Some folks say, “We’re going to be completely vertically integrated.” An example of this might be a Dvele, which is a modular home builder or Katerra is a more famous example. A couple of our team are from Katerra, so there’s a lot of good that they did. They paved a huge way. My analogy is that they tried to boil the ocean and lost. It was ambitious. I’m glad they did it.Agorus is a technology platform and high-tech manufacturer that builds a product that developers and builders can use wherever they go. Click To Tweet
Our approach, in comparison to somebody like that, is that we are micro-focused. You’ve got folks that are saying, “We’re fully vertically integrated,” and then you’ve got folks that are taking a unique materials place, “I’m going to 3D-print a building.” That’s a material science play. It is prefab to a certain extent but they’re saying, “We’re going to try and push building departments to accept extruded light stone material as a new building material.”
Our approach is laser-focused. We’re going to build it with the same materials that everybody already builds with. It’s your Simpson hangers and your timber. We have not invented new materials but what we’ve invented is a technology core that allows those materials to be split into a high-tech, high-speed factory so that the production speed can be increased.
For a lot of the volume developers, the core problem that this tackles for them are the increasing lack of supply in the labor market. I’m panning out to a larger national view of single-family homes. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are telling us we’re 5.5 million homes underwater cumulatively since the GFC. The problem is, concurrent that, we have a declining labor force. The Census Bureau right now is saying for every five folks that are retiring, there are only two backfilling.
Most people in the construction industry get this because they’re like, “I can’t keep your talent. Even if I can get talent, it’s not qualified. It’s just labor.” While these two things are converging, society is now starting to see Econ 101, supply and demand. Supply is scarce. Demand is high. Home prices are going up and people are selling homes in hours for 25% above asking.
Our core theory is we do not have the labor to fix this problem. As a scale of scope to fix this, you would need the top 100 largest builders in the country to double their capacity for a decade to get out of the deficit that we’re under. We believe that the only way to fix this is to build a technology that can take the labor force that we have and supercharge it, or else we’re going to continue to see rising home prices regardless of what mortgage rates and the Fed do.
Let’s talk about that. Katerra tried to boil the ocean. We’re thankful that they tried so that we could see what we got to do. It’s funny because I have a podcast interview with a guy who used to work at Katerra and it was interesting. What you guys are doing is more focused and more pinpointed. You’re using materials that already exist, but your technology is what enables those materials to be transformed into something that is custom but to do so in a way that’s relatively efficient. Am I getting that right?
Absolutely. What we’ve done on the software and hardware side is we’ve built the world’s first engine that can power this new process. What the engine does is it allows us a minimal footprint. Our current factory footprint for our assembly lines is about 15,000 square feet. It’s relatively modest. We can build the entire home as panels on a single assembly line in a matter of about eight hours.
When you can do that, these nano factories essentially can be replicated. You could put multiple assembly lines in parallel if you want. You can surge out and then you can push your manufacturing capacity out to the major metro areas where people are building. The problem is if I decide I’m going to throw a dart at a map and put the world’s largest factory in Omaha, shipping is expensive right now.
In trying to ship from California to Florida to Texas, you’re burning off all of the savings that you gained from your automation and your consolidation. We are building a solution that we liken to Special Operations. Small, highly capable decentralized units that you can push out, and you can have at scale fifteen different factories all over the country that are able to service their own metro areas.
Why would someone not want to purchase a home or a building from you?
To be clear, I don’t face consumers because that’s not our core competency. We sell a product through developers that are already building the product. They have the customer pipeline and all that. What we’re saying is right now, you’re on a seven-month tether and your customers are riding the lumber volatility all over the place.
Our vision as a business is that all of our customers are being permit to keys in 30 days consistently. People immediately write me off as soon as I say that. They’re like, “You’re ridiculous. That’s never going to happen.” I have two counter-arguments. One is we’re landing rockets on barges in an open ocean that we can solve this problem. The second one is that it’s been done before.
When I say back to the future, NVR is in the top five national builders. Their predecessor was a company called Ryan Homes. Ryan Homes was building a similar business model to what we have right now and they were consistently fourteen days permits to keys, up and down the eastern seaboard in the 70s’. By vertically integrating and building his panel off-site, it is going to happen and will become the norm where people don’t laugh at me when I say 30 days to build a home.
Your customers are the developers, not the end-users.
Exactly. I have a lot of our product design team trying to think about the user because that’s the person that’s experiencing the home. Our customer is the person that already has the capital, the land entitlement, development prowess, and the customer-facing sales team. We are selling to them. A lot of times, the thing that constrains developers from growth is their cycle time. How fast can I build homes? How many more homes can I get? That’s why they are our core customers.
You’re competing with other general contractors then, is that correct?
This gets into what slice of construction we take. When you look at a home, an average home is 35, 36 different sub-trades. Our core niche right now, as our product evolves, is getting the developer from slab to rough inspection as fast as possible. What we found is that the vast majority of labor cost and labor time overruns are in the rough trades. That’s your framing, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, etc. It also happens to be the things that are standardized. It happens to be the items that customers don’t care about.
I’ve never met somebody that knew nor even cared what was behind their sheetrock. The homeowner, customer and user care about the stuff that they can see. If I can get the builder to rough inspection, then from rough inspection to keys, it becomes a much faster cycle. The complexity, the inspectability, and all the light stuff that matters like electrical fires, plumbing leaks, and the structural strength of the timber are all in the rough trades. That’s where we stay focused as a company.
Wouldn’t that then conflict with your permit to keys in 30 days if you’re getting to rough inspection, and now you’re depending on the finish carpenters and the tile guys to get everything done? I know a few tile guys. I’m not sure that you can rely on that house after house.
This gets into the difference between where we are and where we want to be. Our view in this business is if I can figure out how to distribute books well across the country, I can layer in DVDs, and I can layer in kid’s clothes and groceries. Pretty soon, I can now, all of a sudden, deliver this giant immersive experience that we now know as Amazon. The core competency that I have to get right starts with the skeleton and the shell of the home. That’s the difference between present reality versus future vision.If it is not necessary, then it has to wait because there's no shortage of good options. Click To Tweet
It’s interesting to me how you guys have identified a particular part of the process and not tried to eat the whole elephant, so to speak.
People might accuse me of lack of ambition on this. It’s hard for us right now to hyper-scale a company in just a few trades. I can’t imagine how I could do it or pull it off if I was trying to bite off all 36 trades at once.
As far as the geographic expansion of your company is concerned, how do you know when it’s time to build a new factory?
The time is now. We’re building a rocket ship and if I pour too much jet fuel into the engine, I won’t get to outer space. I’ll explode mid-flight. What we’re trying to be is this is an operational game for us. The technology works. The market demand works. Our issue is can we scale up operations? What we’re trying to set as our company’s metronome is that we expand to one new metro every year. In that metro, we expand production by a single line of production every quarter and we’re adding a new shift each month.
For the person that’s in geography number ten, they’re like, “I don’t want to wait ten years. I want this product now.” We have to be methodical about our scale, targeting the largest and most dense regions. As you probably know, there are 5 or 6 major regions in the country that account for more than half of US construction, California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Atlanta, and the Carolina area. Our core expansion is starting on the west moving east. We’re targeting 2022 in Arizona, 2023 in Texas, 2024 in Florida, and starting to work up our eastern seaboard in 2025. That’s how we’re approaching this. We’re trying to be disciplined and methodical about how we grow.
Why will your company fail?
It’s a good question. It’s one my cofounder and I asked ourselves all the time. Two things, one is I burn out my team because we try to move too fast. We see this giant market and say, “We got to build a billion homes.” We’re not there and we go so fast that we explode. That’s one failure point. Another one is we succumb to the tyranny of yes. By that, I mean, “You could do this other product, this other trade, this other component of vertical integration. You could do this other customer.” All of a sudden, you’ve lost your focus as a business and therefore, you fizzle out.
The third one I would say is if we, in this tight labor market, cannot hire and build a team that’s passionate about what is considered a low-tech, old-fashioned industry. When I look at our team right now, we’re 55 employees deep and we’re trying to double that in the next six months. I’ve got a unique combination from entry-level factory labor that’s working in the production lines, all the way up to data engineers and scientists that I’m pulling from the SpaceXs, Googles and Facebooks of the world.
We’ve got a very unique talent spectrum. Right now, it’s hard to scale and grow people, especially construction technologists that are passionate about bringing their problem solving and their technical expertise to an old-fashioned industry. I say “old-fashioned” because it need not be that way but kids don’t grow up right now thinking they want to get into construction. They want to work at TikTok.
Those three things, the burnout, the tyranny of yes, and the ability to build a team that’s passionate, tell me a little bit more about the tyranny of yes. I know a lot of construction companies who are reading this fall into that. An opportunity comes up and they say yes to that. How do you fight against the tyranny of yes?
I’m not sure I do a good job, honestly. It’s something we’re working on. One of the tools we’ve put into place is we’re meticulous about our vision, mission and culture. Oftentimes, we come back to who we are? What is the core problem we’re trying to solve? Is this new yes opportunity necessary for us to get to our North Star and where we’re going? If it is not necessary, then it has to wait because there’s no shortage of good options. One of our little slogans around the office is, “Good is the enemy of great.”
We can be pursuing things that are genuinely very good. If we do that, we will potentially sacrifice greatness, which in our vision is doing to construction what Tesla did to Detroit. It didn’t eradicate the internal combustion engine. I’m not going to eradicate stick-built construction. There’s a place for it and a need for it.
All I want to do is get to the point where prefab becomes not this bad word. It has become the point where now every major builder is building, at least in some capacity, in a prefabricated way. They’re building off-site or tapping into our technology. Tesla still only owns a couple of percent of the market but they’ve moved a complacent industry further in a high-tech direction for the betterment of everybody.
What is that core problem that you guys are looking to solve?
We are trying to solve the fact that construction has lagged behind the rest of the industry by 100 years. Assuming sleeping out of the rain is not quite a style, society needs more high-tech construction solutions so that homes do not become unattainable for the vast majority of Americans.
The way that you’re framing that is in terms of an economic solution to high home pricing. Am I getting that correctly?
Essentially, yes. The more people that we can help build homes, it over time, depresses the market and makes home-ownership feasible for more people. In order to do that, it’s not charging less for homes because that’s rent control. The only way that you can bring down home prices is to bring supply up. The only way, in our opinion, to bring supply up as a nation is through a technological solution because we don’t have the labor in any near future to stay up with demand.
How does the quality of what you produce compare to the quality that someone can produce on-site through the traditional process?
It’s infinitely better. My heart breaks because most people don’t care because it’s behind the wall. Our manufacturing tolerances are less than 1/16 of an inch and it’s built more like an automobile. Unfortunately, nobody cares what’s behind the wall, so most people don’t even know the fact that we build with #1 KD timber which is a straight and true product. The cabinet folks appreciate it when they go to hang cabinets. They understand it and appreciate it.
One of the challenges we’re facing or that we’re trying to tackle right now is trying to bring sustainability into the lexicon of builders and developers. Because of the tolerances in the way in which we build, we are trying to get to the point where within the next year or two, our homes are net-zero ready. They are built with a much stronger thermal envelope because we can build a better product. Therefore, people can look at this and go, “I need less energy,” which means my monthly bills go down because I’m living in a home that is much tighter from air control and much more thermally insulated.Good is the enemy of great. Click To Tweet
That’s a pitch that you guys have to communicate to the builders and the developers so that they see the value in it and communicate to other people.
Developers are starting to hear this conversation from their customers, but they do not have a product yet that says, “This is going to translate into something meaningful.” More data is showing that as the younger generation comes of age, the later Millennials, early Gen Z, the climate focus sustainability is on everybody’s tongues more and more.
One of the things most people don’t realize is that the largest contributor to global carbon emissions is heating and cooling your buildings. It’s 40%. It’s not trucks and cars. It’s the structures that we build. We’re trying to get ahead of this and provide a solution that can drastically impact on an environmental level as well.
These are the points that I’ve made a note of as far as the logic of prefab. One is it addresses to an extent the labor force issue. Secondly, the quality issue that you just discussed. Third, the price and then fourth, the speed. Am I getting those right?
Have I missed anything?
There are some tangential other things that we talked about, which are an impact on the neighborhood, the transit and the presence. It’s also the ability for people to have flexibility or immediacy. We talked about the speed to compress the timeline, but when you can compress that timeline, people can get excited about owning that home and they can make plans to move much more quickly. At the end of the day, better, faster, cheaper and greener are the core stump speech that we give.
Let’s say I’m a home builder or developer and I’ve got a 50-house lot or something like that. Is it possible to use your technology to execute that?
Currently no, because the factory setup is still too large to be field deployable. At a certain point down the road, we would love to get to the point where our technology can be outsourced or can be given to other folks. It’s simple and straightforward. With a factory or a semi-truck, they can almost stand up their capability in that area. We’re not there yet but we’re trying to get to the point where our technology becomes ubiquitous and other people are using it to build their homes.
Garrett, this is cool. This has been interesting. How can folks get in touch with you?
The easiest way is they can connect with me on LinkedIn or go to our website and connect there. At the end of the day, we are passionate about this industry. We’re passionate about building a team that our construction innovators and construction technologists want to leave their mark and make a dent in this space at a huge level. We hope to be the conduit for that.
Where do you live in San Diego roughly?
I live in Colorado. I got stationed there when I joined the military and never wanted to leave because it’s a beautiful little idyllic island.
When I was a kid, I used to live on Windansea Beach in La Jolla. It’s a funny story. My mom had a boyfriend who was in the CIA. We moved to America from Europe and we ended up in this little apartment building overlooking Windansea on the second floor. If I’m in San Diego, what’s the one restaurant I need to hit?
That is tricky. I’m going to go low-tech and say one of my favorite places is a dirty little taco shop in Imperial Beach called Don Panchos. They make some of the most delicious carne asada or surf and turf burritos. It’s a little off the beaten track and it’s a little out of the way but I love them.
We will find Don Panchos in Imperial Beach.
Right at the base of the strand, there’s highway 75. Right when that tees into Imperial Beach, there’s a little taco shop right there and there’s almost always a line around the block.
That does look like a beach taco shop as well. Garrett, I appreciate your time. It would be great to get you back on the show here, maybe in another year or two, and see the progress you guys have been making.
I would love to be back on. It would be a pleasure.
Thanks a lot.
Thank you for reading my interview with Garrett Moore. Before you jet off, make sure that if you are down in San Diego that you hit up Don Panchos. You’ve got to hit it up. It sounds like it’s good. Check out his website. Feel free to contact Garrett on LinkedIn. If you’ve enjoyed this interview and you value the show, please share it with other people. You can always contact me on my website if you have any questions. Go to ConstructionGenius.com/contact if you have any questions or feedback from me. Give us a rating or a review wherever you get your podcasts. I hope you have a terrific week. Thanks, as always.
- LinkedIn – Eric (Creator of “The Shift” Leadership Course) Anderton
- Ryan Homes
- LinkedIn – Garrett Moore
- Don Panchos
About Garrett Moore
As the co-founder and CEO at Agorus, Garrett brings a career of executive-level leadership and technology expertise to the construction industry. He earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University and a Master’s in Cyber Security from Tel Aviv University. Garrett is an Olmsted Scholar, prior collegiate athlete, and Navy Veteran.