Williams Scotsman

The Big Stories of 2016 (Part 1)

“The only thing that is constant is change.” – Greek philosopher Heraclitus

No matter your industry, change is indeed constant. Whether due to technological improvements, economic forces, political shifts, Mother Nature or simply the maturation of humanity, it’s a safe bet that very little about any business remains stationary for long. 

WillScot experiences all these forces of change, though we also exist to respond to them. Be it a construction project, hospital or school expansion, catastrophic weather event or new energy exploration, the modular business is built on the notion of providing customers with the space they need to quickly and cost-effectively negotiate market shifts and achieve innovative ideas. 

And as with every year, 2016 brought plenty of new developments in every industry with which WillScot does business. Here’s a brief recap of some of the biggest stories from a few of those sectors, particularly as they relate to modular. 


Technological advancements are very much impacting the construction industry. Developments in laser scanning technology, building infrastructure modeling and drone photography are changing how builders operate, while Dubai is predicting that by 2030, a quarter of their new buildings will be constructed with 3D printing. These technologies will play a large role in many future projects, and so will the lessons learned during the construction of new apartments at 461 Dean Street in Brooklyn, at 32 stories the world’s tallest modular building (though maybe not for long). The building’s unique architecture and size demonstrate significant product development advancements. The project also serves as a valuable lesson in process development for the entire modular construction industry

Disaster Recovery:

No matter where you lived in North America, you weren’t too far out of Mother Nature’s havoc-inducing reach in 2016: Hurricane Matthew. Destructive flooding in West Virginia and Louisiana. The Fort McMurray wildfire, the largest wildfire evacuation in Alberta’s history. The year was another reminder that all municipalities must remain vigilant in preparing for the possibility of epic disaster, and understand what is necessary to rebuild as intelligently and quickly as possible to minimize loss. WillScot is proud to have contributed a significant number of temporary space solutions over the years, including wash facilities, dorms, kitchens/diners, modular offices, guard shacks and storage containers to help people in Fort McMurray during and after the devastating fires there. 


The 30 percent growth in high school graduates our country experienced from 1995-2013 is coming to a halt, according to a December report that says we won’t see an increase again until 2023. While that could indicate a decline in overall education sector construction, there is an emerging trend toward privatization and designing schools for the real world – as Oracle has done by starting construction on its own high school. What’s more, the charter school movement celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2016. With 6,700 schools and nearly 3 million students across 43 states and the District of Columbia, charters are a powerful force. WillScot has helped solve space needs at such institutions as Magellan International School in Austin, Texas, and Profectus Valor Academy in Jacksonville, Florida.


A historic oil price downturn in late 2015 and in 2016 has Deloitte’s John England expecting a “slow path to recovery” for the oil and gas industry. Consumer use of solar power continues to rise as costs drop, while battery storage improvements portend a bright future for electric vehicle growth. The incoming administration’s America First Energy Plan promises to “Unleash America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves” and “eliminate all barriers to responsible energy production.” Oil and gas industry job prospects already showed improvement during the second half of 2016, as job postings rose by 50 percent since a low in August, according to employment site Indeed. Wind energy builders are also booming due to technology advancements that have lowered costs, and they’re pushing for infrastructure investment from the incoming administration. ConocoPhillips, which operates the Kuparuk River Unit, North America’s second largest oil field in Alaska’s North Slope, turned to WillScot for workforce accommodations in support of a variety of activities including capital project improvements, drilling operations and contractor fieldwork. We expect the demand to increase in coming months.

But wait, there’s more...

Be sure to read the second part of our 2016 rundown for the big stories in events/hospitality, healthcare, retail/commercial, security/public safety and transportation.

What do you think about these stories? Are there others in these sectors that top your list for 2016?

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