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Dickinson Homes pushes limits on what modular homes can be

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THE DICKINSON HOMES construction project built on Mackinac Island. This was a modular home that was set from the water, via a barge, to the foundation on Mackinac Island. (Josh LeClair photo)

KINGSFORD — Evo Santoni started Dickinson Homes in 1970 with the desire to build people a better place to live.

Now run by the second and third generation of the family, Dickinson Homes design and builds custom modular homes in Michigan, Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota, expanding on what modular structures can be and expanding the green, sustainable and energy-efficiency benefits.

“We are never satisfied to remain where we are and we push our limits to become better as a whole. We are constantly looking for ways to improve and perfect the way we build, interact with clients and make the process as efficiently and easily as possible,” said Mario Santoni, Evo’s grandson and senior project manager for the company.

Evo’s son, Albert Santoni, now is president of the company. Another son, Paul Santoni, is the retired vice president. Grandson Anthony Santoni is head of engineering.

Mario Santoni said working within a family business is both rewarding and scary.

From left are Anthony Santoni, head of engineering; Albert Santoni, president; and Mario Santoni, senior project manager.

“Rewarding in the regard that you get to follow your family and make them proud of the work that you are doing. Scary in the way that following in their footsteps means living up to their standards and expectations. It’s an amazing thing, because it allows everyone to be held accountable and also have more incentive to do well,” he said.

Dickinson Homes recently finished a major build on Mackinac Island, setting up a two-story modular home shipped to the island via barge. Although Dickinson Homes built on the island as far back as 1980, this was the first time setting a house on land from the water.

“Dickinson Homes is setting new standards for the modular industry,” said Hamilton Watts, assistant project manager.

The six custom-designed and built modular units for the home were shipped over the Mackinac Bridge from Kingsford, traveling 219 miles to Cheboygan, where they were loaded onto the barge and sent 17 miles across the water of Lake Huron to the foundation on Mackinac Island.

Six modules and a crane were loaded onto a barge and anchored near the shore, then the modules were lifted from the barge and set on the foundation with the crane. A video of the build taken by Josh LeClair can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjzH6W1xZD0&t=3s.

Paul Santoni, retired vice president of Dickinson Homes.

Santoni says the most important factor a family should look at when building a home is the right person to oversee construction.

“It is important to work with someone who understands the family’s vision and also understands the building process,” he said. “Working with the right person will make the process a lot less stressful and much happier, bridging the knowledge gap.”

Parts of the Dickinson Homes modular home that was constructed on Mackinac Island are transported across the Mackinac Bridge. (Josh LeClair photo)

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