Heritage Bible College
Dr. Ryan Ralston
Meet Dr. Ryan Ralston, the president of Heritage Bible College of Savannah, GA. Dr. Ralston also serves as the pastor for the Savannah Holy Church of God. He and his wife have been married for 29 years. Together, they have 3 children, and the oldest of them recently got married and had Dr. Ralston’s first grandchild. Dr. Ralston loves to read, spend time with his family, travel, and shoot some hoops.
During our visit, we got to spend some time with Dr. Ralston, and we asked him about his experience with Affinity and modular construction as a whole. Keep reading below to find out what he has to say!
About the College
“Heritage Bible College is devoted to training young people from a Pentecostal Holiness worldview. The Bible College’s hallmark is a culture of training that bridges theology with practice, extends the learning environment beyond the classroom, and promotes student growth and ministry success. Faculty, staff, and students embrace core values expressed through integrity, civility, kindness, collaboration, and a commitment to a lifelong learning, wellness, and responsibility.” – www.heritagebible.college
The school is small and focused with roughly 40+ students. The school’s intention is to train its students to enter into full-time ministry positions right out of college, debt-free. It accomplishes this with small class sizes to provide a very hands-on learning experience and low-cost tuition to eliminate large student debt.
The campus offers several exceptional amenities to its students. On the school’s 46-acre campus, students have access to a staffed cafeteria for lunch and dinner, library, gymnasium, volleyball court, student housing, and the grounds to ride their bikes, exercise, or study.
Student Modular Housing
The housing on the campus is where Affinity comes in. So far, Heritage Bible College has purchased 3 modular dormitories from us, two identical 20-bedroom dorms for their male and female student population, and a 6-bedroom dorm that has been converted to office space for the school’s administrative staff.
We asked Dr. Ralston why he chose to go with modular construction over site-building methods, here’s what he had to say:
“…a few years ago, we built our K – 12 school building and life center. It’s about 20,000 square feet, so it’s a stick-built building. It took a lot longer to build. Just because you’ve got so many variables. You’ve got crews you are trying to maintain., general contractors you’re working through, things of that nature. So the cost fluctuated a little bit while we were building that building. It was around 2008 when we built that building, and there was a lot going on in the economy, and some of the demand increased, supplies were scarce. So, we really ran over budget.”
Evaluation and Consideration
“When we started talking about building buildings for the college, the modular market seemed to come back kind of strong. I know that early in the decade, around 2010 or so, was kind of a downturn for them as well, but it seemed like they came back pretty strong. We started talking about ways to control cost, and when we were talking about a way to control cost, that made us look strongly at the modular market.”
Speeding Things Up
“It kind of expedites the process. Our county seems to be, not anti-building, but it seems to get tough to build stuff in our county. So, that was another thing we looked at pretty hard because they’re not as business-friendly when it comes to building projects. The modular concept allowed us to expedite some things and roll things into one decision, instead of having decisions with multiple layers and multiple people involved. It was an efficient way to build and time-wise as well.” – Dr. Ryan Ralston
Benefits of Modular Construction
Dr. Ralston is a firm believer in modular construction, and he appreciates how easy the process is. With modular construction, you are able to streamline the building process and combine quite a few decisions into one.
Modular construction also allows you to control costs. Like Dr. Ralston stated, with stick-built construction, you are more prone to fluctuating prices. In site-built constructions, it is hard to judge material needs, and by the time you need to order more, the prices have gone up.
Modular construction is a much more efficient way to build. Because modular homes are built in a controlled environment where multiple steps can take place at once, it takes far less time to manufacture a modular structure than building on-site.
The modular industry also lends itself to green building. In modular construction, building materials are stored indoors and are not being damaged by the elements. A lot of material that would typically end up in a dumpster for a site-built home is re-purposed and used in other departments in a modular setting. This results in far less wasted material in modular construction.
Strength of Modular Structures
We asked Dr. Ralston about how he felt about the strength of our buildings. Although he is not a contractor or an engineer, he has had first-hand experience with our buildings during a natural disaster. When Hurricane Matthew passed over Savannah in 2016, a few of their buildings had to undergo some repairs, while the 6-bedroom dormitory that we supplied them did not endure any damage. “…when Matthew came through, we didn’t have any issues with the Affinity building. We are completely comfortable building with Affinity on the coast, no hesitations whatsoever,” said Dr. Ralston.
If you’d like to learn more about the resilience of modular homes, take a look at our blog post, Are Modular Homes Hurricane Proof?
Hurricane Irma (2017)
During the 2017 hurricane season, Hurricane Irma passed through Florida and Georgia. The storm devastated the west coast and the panhandle of Florida, as well as some of southwest Georgia. Unfortunately, it destroyed many homes and businesses in its path.
There were several Affinity modular homes that were located in the affected areas, and they remained standing after the storm had passed. Most of them sustained some damage, but the damages were minor. Damages ranged from missing shingles, damaged siding, and even missing fan blades from ceiling fans located on a porch. None of the homes suffered structural damage, and with a few minor repairs, were back to normal!
Working with Affinity
“We love working with Affinity. We feel that the quality is superior in the modular market. The concept and the quality of the Affinity building is why we came back,” said Dr. Ralston
Dr. Ralston’s response was very flattering when we asked him about his experiences with Affinity. He was impressed by the quality of our buildings and loved the whole modular process. One of his biggest praises was his experience with our building consultants.
“[Our building consultants] …serve as the conduit between us and the company. They really keep things moving on track, and any information I need, it’s available. That’s been a huge, huge plus for us and our relationship with Affinity.” said, Dr. Ralston.
Dr. Ralston has been a pleasure to work with, and we hope to continue our relationship with Heritage Bible College in Savannah, GA.
Full Video Transcript
Dr. Ralston: Hello, my name is Ryan Ralston. I serve as the pastor for the Savannah Holy Church of God, and I become the pastor in 1996. I am also the president of Heritage Bible College. We started 5 years ago. That’s who I am, married 29 years, three children and the oldest one got married last year, so now I’m a grandpa. My grandson just turned one, so that’s all good.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Dr. Ralston: I do a lot of reading. We spend a lot of time together as a family. We like to do some traveling. I do a little bit of writing. I try to exercise a little bit and play some basketball.
Q: Do you have any published works?
Dr. Ralston: Yeah, we published one. It’s about finding the will of God. Kind of one of the main questions that young folks want to know is “what is God’s will for my life.” So, we wrote a book entitled Unlocked: Keys to Finding and Following the Will of God.
Q: Why was the Heritage Bible College of Savannah created?
Dr. Ralston: It’s a very small school, it’s very focused. We have a K – 12 Christian school on campus, and we were having trouble staffing it and finding qualified Christian schoolteachers. So, a few years ago, we came up with the idea, let’s start a college with the hope of producing Christian schoolteachers. We have about 40 college kids that live on campus with us, and their intention is to go into full-time ministry. So, think of it kind of like a trade school for ministry. We offer two to four-year degrees, we offer Christian education and biblical studies, but the idea is they are going into full-time ministry. So, once they graduate, we help build that bridge to where they can get out of college and get into ministry, debt-free, whether it be as a youth pastor, missionary, senior pastor, or a Christian school teacher. That’s kind of the concept of our school. So, it’s like a training ground for ministry for folks that one to be in full-time ministry.
Q: What facilities/amenities do you offer to your students?
Dr. Ralston: We have our classroom space, and we have our cafeteria where the students eat lunch and dinner. As far as the housing, that developed our relationship with Affinity. A few years ago we were searching for modular concepts versus stick-built. We were weighing pros and cons, costs, and things of that nature. So, we’ve built three-building, and this is our third building with Affinity. The six-bedroom was the original building that we built. We loved the concept and loved the process so much that we followed with a 20 bedroom for the girls in 2018 and now a 20 bedroom for the boys in 2020. It’s a 46-acre campus, so the students have access to the library, gymnasium, the grounds to exercise, and ride their bikes. It’s a small school feel for sure, but they are going to have the same access as a kid going to another university would have, just on a smaller scale.
Q: Why did you choose to go with modular construction over site built?
Dr. Ralston: Like I said, I’ve been the pastor for 20 years, and a few years ago, we built our K – 12 school building and life center. It’s about 20,000 square feet, so it’s a stick-built building. It took a lot longer to build. Just because you’ve got so many variables. You’ve got crews you are trying to maintain, general contractors you’re working through, things of that nature. So the cost fluctuated a little bit while we were building that building. It was around 2008 when we built that building, and there was a lot going on in the economy, and some of the demand increased, supplies were scarce. So, we really ran over budget. When we started talking about building buildings for the college, the modular market seemed to come back kind of strong. I know that early in the decade, around 2010 or so, was kind of a downturn for them as well, but it seemed like they came back pretty strong. We started talking about ways to control cost, and when we were talking about a way to control cost, that made us look strongly at the modular market. It kind of expedites the process. Our county seems to be, not anti-building, but it seems to get tough to build stuff in our county. So, that was another thing we looked at pretty hard because they’re not as business-friendly when it comes to building projects. The modular concept allowed us to expedite some things and roll things into one decision, instead of having decisions with multiple layers and multiple people involved. It was an efficient way to build and time-wise as well.
Q: Being so close to the coast, can you speak about the rigidity of our structures?
Dr. Ralston: I don’t know if I can definitively answer that question. Engineers would probably have their answers, but mine just comes from an observation standpoint. I am not a builder by trade or an engineer by research. But, just from observation, when hurricane Matthew came through we had the first Affinity building, and we didn’t lose a shingle, and we didn’t have any trouble what so ever. Some of our other buildings, of course, their older, but they had issues that they encountered. We some repairs on stick-built buildings during that time. Again, they’re older buildings, but my experience was, during when Matthew came through, we didn’t have any issues with the Affinity building. We are completely comfortable building with Affinity on the coast, no hesitations what so ever.
Q: You’ve added another Affinity dormitory, is this due to the growth of your school?
Dr. Ralston: Yeah, it’s definitely growth. Of course, the pandemic has kind of shaken higher education in a lot of ways, but for us, we are very focused in who we reach. We are an independent Pentecostal Church, and so there’s about 12 or 13 states that represent our student population. All the way from Texas, California, Ohio, Indiana, and on down. Our student body is pretty secure. We try to take about 10 to 15 freshmen a year. That’s what we can handle as far as faculty, staff, administration, and housing. Since we started the college a few years ago and began to grow, as we’ve grown students, we’ve added housing. Now that we have housing we can come back and add students. It’s that chicken or the egg thing. You need students, then you need housing, then you need more housing to get more students. So we’ve tried to conceptualize how much housing we need for the student population. Right now we’re at a point to where this building will serve for the next two or three years for the male population of the school as we continue to grow. The campus plan, we met with the county and walked through our campus plan. This is our second dorm, and we actually have four dorms on schedule to be built. Every couple of years we’ll be coming back to building another dorm as the school continues to grow. The way the campus plan is laid out, it’s kind of a quad. There’s four dorms, same size, and all mirror each other, in a quad, that’s the campus plan. Hopefully, in a couple years, we’ll be back with Affinity doing the same thing.
Q: Any additional thoughts or comments?
Dr. Ralston: We love working with Affinity. We feel that the quality is superior in the modular market. The concept and the quality of the Affinity building is why we came back. When we built in 2018, we incurred some debt, so we went into a donor management program, and got that paid off and eliminated. When we were looking at the 2020 building, there were different companies out there that were pitching numbers and ideas, but we kept coming back to the quality of the Affinity product. Price point was secondary, these are college kids living in the dorms, so we wanted something sturdy and structurally sound that could withstand a hurricane. I don’t know about male freshman students though, but it’s proven to be a quality product, and we love working with the team. The Affinity team has been great to work with, and one of the biggest additions for me on this building was that your building consultants have been available the last couple of buildings. They weren’t in place the first time around, so they’ve added their role, and that’s invaluable to us because they serve as the conduit between us and the company. They really keep things moving on track, and any information I need, it’s available. That’s been a huge, huge plus for us and our relationship with Affinity.