Nick Milestone, a veteran of the European and United Kingdom mass timber markets and the current chairman of the Timber Research and Development Trade Association (TRADA), has joined Katerra as director of mass timber. Before Katerra, Nick was the director of offsite manufacturing at the William Hare Group and the managing director of B&K Structures, the largest mass timber construction business in the U.K.
What is your role at Katerra?
My role will focus on working with our commercial building platforms team to fully integrate our mass timber production within Katerra’s end-to-end process. Our team will help establish one model to efficiently service Katerra’s end-to-end new build, AEC professional services, and third-party sales of cross-laminated timber (CLT), while supporting full production at our Spokane Valley factory.
Why did you choose to join Katerra?
I have had my eye on Katerra since its founding and have kept a close watch on the trajectory of the burgeoning U.S. mass timber market. I was inspired by the opportunity to bring value to such an important undertaking: harnessing the sustainable, structural, and aesthetic benefits of mass timber by making CLT more widely available, efficiently produced and of higher quality than ever before. The market needs mass timber to succeed in order to meet ever-increasing housing and climate demands. I am honoured Katerra has brought me on to offer my 35 years of construction, including 15 years of mass timber experience, to the task.
What role does Katerra’s CLT factory have in the supply of mass timber in the U.S.?
As the largest CLT factory in North America, Katerra is making a significant contribution to the supply of mass timber in this market. Katerra is also applying technology at its factory in an interesting way to optimize production speed, efficiency, and quality. This includes the use of geometric and biometric scanning, advanced panel algorithms for layup placement, and whole-building temperature and humidity control to ensure consistent quality. It’s exciting to be part of a company that will play a critical role in ensuring that the U.S. and Canadian mass timber markets can accelerate as European markets have already.
What are you enjoying the most at Katerra so far?
I am incredibly inspired by the purpose and opportunity ahead of us. The mass timber market in the U.S. is still quite young – just about four years old. Katerra can be a leader in this country’s further adoption of a material that is more sustainable and cost-effective, and make it easier to create beautiful, high-performance buildings in the process.
I am also enjoying working alongside great leaders I have long admired in this industry, as well as getting an up-close look Katerra’s CLT factory in action. It’s the largest mass timber operation I have ever seen in my more than 30 years in the industry. It is smart, innovative, neat, and organized. And it is ideally positioned in the Pacific Northwest region where the raw material is based.
What do you see as the most impactful way technology can help to improve the construction industry?
Technology will – without a shadow of a doubt – upend this industry. Integration and disruption are ultimately what the global construction industry needs. There are three ways I see this happening:
- Technology platforms give us the ability to create a product’s digital twin. We can build it first in virtual model with fully integrated three-dimensional data. Those models can interface with client models to customize based on their needs, all while allowing for more accurate scheduling and cost modelling. Katerra, and only Katerra, has the means to do that in-house.
- Green technologies are enhancing our ability to create more sustainable solutions that also meet structural and aesthetic demands. Mass timber, and CLT in particular, is the only material grown for construction that offers incredible biophilic design solutions.
- Lastly, disruption in the construction industry is improving the vertical integration roadmap. For example, Katerra can own the in-house supply chain and deliver it more effectively with offsite technology. Mass timber is absolutely intrinsic to a vertically integrated approach based on its design for manufacture characteristics.