SO Modular impresses BBA chief with growth plans

Offsite construction was top of the agenda when senior management from the British Board of Agrément visited SO Modular, a leading UK timber frame and SIPs producer investing heavily in its South Wales manufacturing base.

BBA CEO Claire Curtis-Thomas, together with Wendy Ajuwon, Head of Marketing, visited SO Modular’s plant in Neath, South Wales, to find out more about its timber frame products and innovative BBA-Certificated Triso-Warm structured insulated panel system.

SO Modular is the largest timber frame manufacturer in Wales and recently announced plans to relocate its operations to the former 300,000sqft ‘Metal Box’ factory in Neath, reinvigorating the area with an investment of £6.5 million and using the location as an indoor offsite construction hub. The company anticipates doubling its workforce in the next year, allowing it to increase production from 1,000 to more than 3,000 homes per year, all thanks to growing demand for modular construction solutions. The new site will be re-named the JCG Buildings and bring JG Hale Group’s Hale Construction and Hale Homes together under one roof.

Jonathan Hale, chairman of JG Hale Group, and Charlotte Hale, director of SO Modular, accompanied Claire and Wendy on their visit to SO Modular’s manufacturing plant and the new JCG Buildings. The group also visited a Wales & West housing project in Llanishen, Cardiff, where the Triso-Warm system is being utilised in a £10 million development of 82 affordable housing units. All five blocks in the scheme include the Triso-Warm unique structurally insulated panels with factory fitted windows, doors, floor and roof cassettes and open panels, all manufactured offsite by SO Modular for delivery as complete units. The build technique allows homes to be built more quickly and cost-effectively.

SO Modular director Charlotte Hale said: “It was great to talk to Claire and the BBA team during their visit to our headquarters. We discussed the construction industry in its current state and modern methods of construction, as well as both businesses’ future plans and how we can work together more collaboratively in order to create far greater benefits from our working relationship and for the industry.

“We were also excited to be able to give Claire and her team a tour of our new planned £6.5 million investment the JCG Building, which is where SO Modular, Hale Construction and Hale Homes will be based, as well as show the BBA team the extensive work we are doing on one of our social housing developments using the Triso-Warm system,” added Charlotte, who was named Entrepreneur of the Year in the 2019 Welsh Women’s Awards.

Claire Curtis-Thomas also found the visit very positive: “It was fantastic to see how forward-thinking, creative and enthusiastic SO Modular is and we really appreciated the time Jonathan and Charlotte spent with us at the three different locations. It is great to see a UK manufacturer innovating product and supporting its locality – its investment and job creation at the Metal Box site is critical for the local economy.

“We also discussed how their business has worked with ours over time and some of the challenges they have faced and talked about the evolution of the work we are doing, for example how the BBA’s new website addresses the process of online application in a different way.”

The British Board of Agrément is the UK’s leading construction products Certification body, offering approval, certification and expert test services to manufacturers worldwide of products and systems. It also offers installer approval and inspection services across a range of sectors.