John Colucci, Westchester Modular
John Colucci, Westchester Modular

John Colucci was just trying to make it through college.

When he took a job in sales with a home building company while studying at Montclair State University, he had no idea his career would evolve along with an innovative part of the construction business. After going to school full time in New Jersey and selling stick-built homes on weekends, Colucci was offered a job at the Kaplan Organization as it dove into modular building. He was fascinated by the concept, noting that he felt it was “the wave of the future.” Kaplan offered 20 models, most of which were ranch-style.

About 35 years later, Colucci, current vice president of sales and marketing at Wingdale, N.Y.–based Westchester Modular Homes, has come a long way and so has modular building. But there’s still more potential to grow.

Starting Out

By 1989, Colucci had established himself as an aggressive salesman when he was recruited to work at Westchester Modular by a former colleague, Steve Kerr. Colucci started as a sales manager and eventually moved into the marketing side of the business. When Kerr left Westchester in 1996 for another opportunity, Colucci stepped into his position.

“The best thing that he does is honestly gets people’s expectations in line with the reality of what Westchester is doing,” Kerr says.

Colucci’s experience has provided him with real perspective on what the firm can deliver. In 1987, the company’s first year of production, the facility produced about 1.5 homes each week, he says. By 1991, it was up to three homes per week and during the upturn, the company cranked out five homes per week until the recession struck trending production down.

During the housing boom, the modular housing industry was evolving quickly. Traditional builders began to see that having an 80% finished home delivered and set on site wasn’t such a bad idea, Colucci says.

“It really wasn’t until the mid-90s when we saw a very big pick up in housing starts that the stick builders all of a sudden saw our industry as a possible solution to some of their problems,” he adds.

The Recession’s Impact

Every upturn has a downturn, and the Great Recession delivered a beating to the home building industry, including prefab. Westchester was forced to reduce its staff in 2007, when it was producing fewer than three homes a week. Business didn’t turn around until after Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012.

“We’ve done about 125 homes for Sandy victims because of the storm,” he says. “And now the market as a whole is starting to recover.”

Today, Westchester’s production is back in full swing and rolling out an average of five homes per week.

“It makes me feel very good about being part of an industry that, in my opinion, is still in its infancy stage,” Colucci says. “There’s so much more room for growth in our business.”