Heroes of Huntsville: Barbara Stokes Brings Innovation to Disaster Relief

Barbara Stokes has been a part of the growing culture of innovation and technology in Huntsville, Alabama since 2008. It was at this time that she started Green Structured Homes, a module home manufacturing company working with FEMA to house displace people across the nation.

At first glance, mobile home manufacturing does not seem like a field that is particularly conducive to the utilization and innovation of technology. Barbara Stokes has spent the last eight years of her career proving otherwise. “GSH is very fortunate to have a talented design and engineering team in-house. I work closely with the team every single day to see that ideas are brought efficiently from concept to production,” says Mrs. Stokes, being sure to give credit where credit is due. But Mrs. Stokes personal journey towards building up GSH in Huntsville is one worth noting.

Showing proclivities in STEM related fields early, Barbara pursued her undergraduate degree from Mercer University in 2000. There she studied a myriad of focuses that ultimately laid the foundation for her professional success. While at Mercer Stokes studied Biomedical Engineering, Physics as well as applied learning classes like Manufacturing and Management, Technical Communication, Structures and Properties of Materials, and Thermodynamics. She may not have not realized it back then, but she was gathering the tools needed to break into the disaster relief field.

After graduating from Mercer in 2000, but before starting up Green Structured Homes in Huntsville, Barbara worked extensively with Boeing and the Pisces Corporation. During her tenure with these two companies she worked extensively in securing government contracts. Another skill that would come in handy when building up GSH. In fact, because GSH is a woman owned business, the company was able to take advantage of Small Business Administration programs which allowed the company to grow early on.

Working with the Small Business Administration was GSH first interaction with the U.S. Government, a relationship that continues today. In 2017, GSH won a $28.5 million FEMA contract which is only the latest in their competitive contract award winning streak. GSH has secured over $45 million in a few years span by working with the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

To keep up with the demand created by the 2017 FEMA contract, GSH has opened up manufacturing facilities in eight different states around the country. But no matter how much the company grows, it is clear that are deeply rooted in the city they call home. And this makes sense. Huntsville has a reputation of fostering advances in technology due to their role in developing the America’s space program back in the 1950s. Nicknamed, “the Rocket City”, Huntsville continues to be one of the South’s leading cities in tech.

For GSH to be headquartered in Huntsville is a natural fit. Building off the energy of innovation the city is known for, Stokes is keeping the cities traditions alive and well. Take the new fire suppression system that GSH now uses in their Mobile Home Units for example. Rather than settling on the status quo fire suppression system, GSH developed their own concept. Stokes explained, “Our team worked with local fabrication shops to design and prototype a functioning model before scaling it up to production. We are always looking for ways to continue to make our homes safer, more durable and more comfortable for their end users.” It is this DIY ethos that has Mrs. Stokes turning heads in Huntsville and the manufacturing world at large.

Increasing the local economy and introducing innovation is a big part of what Stokes does in Huntsville, but that list is not exhaustive. Giving back to the community is also a part of GSH operations. In the past two years, GSH has donated a considerable amount of building supplies to Habitat for Humanity of Madison County. Supplies like drywall, linoleum flooring, and Hardie Fascia will go towards Habitat’s current and future efforts. As of July 2018, GSH had donated over $100,000 in building supplies to Habitat. “Our entire team is looking forward to seeing the great work Habitat of Madison County will do this year and, in the future,” commented Stokes.

To learn more about Barbara Stokes, visit her LinkedIn page and recent interview on Ideamensch.





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