Industry Mourns Loss of Modu-Tech's Ed Heil

Industry News,

Originally Published by: SBCA Magazine by Joe Kannapell — November 7, 2023
SBCA appreciates your input; please email us if you have any comments or corrections to this article.

Edwin Dean Heil was hands-on, job-done.  And his life’s work spanned the breadth of the building business.  He started building floor trusses because that was the only way he could stay ahead on framing jobs.  And he did it in typical Ed Heil fashion, taking a used finish roller, cutting it in two, opening the throat, and stitch-plating it back together.  With it he built hundreds of miles of trusses over several years.  Beyond framing and trusses, Ed’s incredible drive and positive spirit enabled him to master every challenge he undertook, including wall panel manufacturing, software programing and development, and even HVAC installation.  While Ed could be a one-man-show, he was also an excellent manager, and a delight to work for and with.     

Ed began by building apartments with his uncle in the hot Houston boom of the 1970s leading to his going out on his own, founding Ed Heil Construction in 1977.  After building multiple large apartment complexes, churches, and custom homes, he formed Heil Builders, Inc. in 1982 with Rick Hughes, who would become his lifetime business partner.  According to Hughes, the key to their company’s success was Ed selling jobs for as much money as he could get, and him framing them for the lowest possible cost.  As the Texas market dried up, they framed wherever they found profitable work, mainly along the East Coast.  To stay ahead of projects, they sometimes built wall panels onsite.  And as they had difficulty getting components on time from suppliers, Ed took over a shop in Baltimore that was going out of business.  There Ed and Rick brought in their lumber supplier, Scott Stevens, and forged a highly successful component and framing business known as Modu-Tech, which continues today.   

When Ed’s family needed him back in Texas, he applied his framing knowledge to a diametrically opposite trade, software programming.  Based on some wall panel drawings he had seen, Ed figured out how to layout and produce them on a computer, creating a program called Wall-Plus.  At a time when the industry was transitioning to whole house software, Wall-Plus met with increasing success as Ed demonstrated it in his booth at BCMC Shows.   Its appeal intrigued MiTek, prompting Ed’s invitation to their headquarters.  MiTek’s CEO, Gene Toombs, was so impressed with Ed and his work, that he not only bought Wall-Plus, but he also hired Ed as Senior VP of a newly formed Wall Panel Division.  There Ed continued his software development success, pioneering the first internet enabled plant floor software called ShopNet, which powers over a hundred wall panel operations today.   

From there, Ed applied his entrepreneurial spirit to several other ventures, and he continued his devout practice of the Christian Faith, with his wife Rhonda by his side.  He rebounded from cancer surgery with renewed zeal for several years before finally succumbing to its scourge.  Ed is sorely missed by all.  He always lit up a room and, most importantly, he lit up so many lives.