DIRTT is an interior construction company, specializing in providing prefabricated, layered-modular construction for interiors, delivered with innovative processes and technologies. Spaces built with DIRTT’s construction system are customizable for Day One and adaptable from Day Two and beyond. The system provides total design freedom and greater certainty in cost, schedule, and outcomes, leveraging advanced technology for a simpler experience to create envisioned spaces faster, cleaner, and with exacting precision.
“DIRTT’s story began approximately 20 years ago, with a group of individuals who surprisingly, came together from a technology background,” begins Benjamin
Urban, CEO. “They were working at Evans, the global leader in designing, equipping, and supporting mission-critical operations, with the industry’s largest portfolio of control room projects worldwide. Essentially, they came from a robust design organization with the ability to develop adaptable operational solutions. In fact, one of the co-founders,
Geoff Gosling, has recently returned and it’s been great having his passionate and insightful guidance.
“Using technology to enable manufacturing for offsite construction was pretty much unheard of 20 years ago. As some of the first adopters and developers, we’ve been able to excel and there still isn’t anyone out there who does exactly what we do,” says Benjamin.
The DIRTT construction system combines innovative processes and technologies, allowing solutions to be designed, organized, configured, and manufactured offsite, with final assembly completed at the job site. “It’s a unique model,” Benjamin continues. “Our software enables us to manufacture bespoke interiors in a range of verticals, from healthcare and life sciences to workplace and education, and deliver them through our construction partners. In a traditional model, the manufacturer does most of the designing, engineering, and building and then sends the product to a distributor who typically then distributes the structure to a subcontractor or third party for installation. Our construction partners, however, utilize our software to start the design, procurement, and proposal processes ahead of submission. Once files are submitted and the order is placed through our software, the custom design request can be manufactured within as little as ten days. The construction partner will then complete the installation.”
Sustainability is at the core of DIRTT’s philosophy. Leveraging industrialized construction and Lean manufacturing, DIRTT’s interiors use less raw material and generate less waste. But it goes beyond that; it encompasses behavioral sustainability, as DIRTT interiors can be adapted and evolved over time. Utilizing a construction system with a universal interface empowers the interchangeability of parts and maximizes the life cycle of products. DIRTT also subscribes to non-obsolescence, meaning new DIRTT components work with existing ones.
“Since our inception, we wanted to ensure that everything we manufacture will have an indefinite lifecycle. Conventional construction is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, whereas our manufacturing system enables considerably less waste. Critically, our processes and core philosophy also focus on the lifecycle of the space and in some cases, I’ve seen our products and solutions extend into their fourth generation of use or location. For example, one of our partners in London will shortly be relocating its DIRTT solution to Boston for use in a project that’s over a decade old. Additionally, solutions can also be repurposed in alternative applications rather than ending up in landfill, which for me, is one of the most exciting and encouraging aspects of our work. Likewise, our development team also innovates solutions that are compatible with products created 20 years ago. The challenge isn’t necessarily to create something new, but rather to create something new that speaks the same language as something that’s 20 years old, which allows customers to adopt new technologies, new innovations, and new solutions into their current deployed DIRTT solutions, knowing that for perpetuity, they will always be interchangeable.
“To facilitate our manufacturing efficiencies and short lead times, we ensure robust relationships with our raw materials suppliers. Our supply chain strategy sees us working with multiple suppliers in addition to our core network. In recent years, and particularly during the pandemic, it was interesting to see the difference between those manufacturing from raw materials and those assembling. Because of how we’ve designed and manufactured over time, we have visibility over our material sourcing availability and overall pipeline. When most of the world was experiencing acceleration fees and shortages, we still had raw materials in stock and the ability to continue manufacturing, which reduced our risk,” he shares.
Alongside its construction partners and supplier relationships, the company places a strong emphasis on its people. “DIRTT is a wonderful company to work for,” Benjamin enthuses. “From our line operators through to our field technicians, our workforce is fiercely passionate. Many employees have been with the company since its inception, but over the last five-to-ten years, we’ve also had several new faces join the old guard and they’ve contributed a fresh perspective. Between the two is a shared passion for what we do. When customers visit our facilities, many are struck by the tangible passion that permeates the culture and extends beyond our walls to our construction partners.
“I’ve been CEO of DIRTT for nearly two years and can happily say that for 2024, DIRTT is poised for significant growth. 2023 was transformational for us with some of our largest volumes in five years being delivered 99 percent on time and in full, with a third of the deficiencies that we would have seen at that same point just two years ago. We’ve proven that, from a capacity perspective, we can essentially double our size without any concerns for quality, efficiency or lead time challenges.
“I’d say we’re one of the few manufacturers projecting growth despite current economic headwinds. We have a significant amount of capital infusion into the business to help us accelerate that growth, in terms of both our construction solutions and technology. Over the next five years or so, alongside seeing greater adoption levels in certain verticals, I think we’ll see more adopters of our support platform. Naturally, diversification of our sales channels will also continue to evolve. Some of the partnerships we’ve announced over the last 18 months are significant. To participate in innovating to build better, partnerships are essential. While we don’t manufacture exterior structures that’s not to say we can’t partner with those that do to solve the larger puzzle for a customer. Prior to the last few years,” Benjamin concludes, “I don’t think there was an appetite for us to all come together to do that, but in the longer term, I think we’ll start to see more collaboration between multiple manufacturers to deliver these sustainable solutions.”