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Intro Female: (00:01)
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As we've seen with the devastation from hurricanes in the last few years trying to recover is a daunting task. Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas left an estimated 76,000 people homeless. The story was much the same in Puerto Rico two years earlier with hurricanes Maria and Irma. Those most impacted by these events often lack basic services including the access to medical care. One company is working on a remedy to that world housing solution is a design and manufacturing company that creates deployable composite structures. The Orlando based business has just come up with clinics on wheels. These are medical clinics that can be easily transported into various regions and stay there for as long as needed. The services they offer include x-rays an OBGYN medic, a pediatric care facility and a dentist office. Wharton alumnus Ron. Ben-Zeev is the CEO of world housing solution and he is joining us on the phone right now. Ron, great to talk to you again.
Ron Ben-Zeev: (01:10)
Same here. Thank you very much for having me.
Thank you. So I guess let's start with the idea behind Clinics On wheels and how it got started.
Ron Ben-Zeev: (01:19)
The challenge of being an entrepreneur is both trying to figure out challenges and how to solve them. In the case of the Clinics on Wheels, we were approached by the department of health in Puerto Rico, who after the devastation in Maria, were looking for what what is called expeditionary medical facilities. Something that could be moved, quickly put together and serve the population in the most efficient possible way. And they asked us, can you do that? And the answer of course, being an entrepreneur is yes. What we discovered however, was that, we thought others might have done something similar. It turns out that until then, no one had ever addressed that mass market and had to go their way. And what we ended up developing was a truly mobile solution that could be towed with a pickup truck that has ADA compliance. And because of the lessons that we learned by serving the department of defense, our troops was applying those lessons learned into an off the grid sustainable medical system that, can be easily deployed in a variety of different industries.
So how do these facilities, these clinics on wheels actually get deployed? You mentioned that they can be put right on the back of a pickup truck.
Ron Ben-Zeev: (02:39)
So in, so let's talk about what, what the current solutions typically are. So, so the GoTo are our tents. Uh, w what, what trends in the medical world called bouncy tents, uh, that provide medical of surgical capabilities or medical facilities. Uh, those are quick to deploy and then afterwards everything becomes hard cause we air conditioning the tents or we heat them or whatever it may be. Uh, the second solution that very often happens are containers. Containers are our, you know, obviously have a place within the ecosystem, but they take a, a major tender. They were made to challenged, to move around, set up, connect to power and so on and so forth. What we've done is, is we've expended that a little bit further and we actually put it on the wheeled base platforms. So think of it, uh, as a, as a very fancy trailer for lack of a better term, and that trail it gets connected and hooked up to, to a, a pickup truck that can um, move them around very quickly, set them in a location, you can literally anchor them to the ground. So now they have hurricane resistance, they bring their own power. So these have sustainable capabilities. So that brings solar batteries on a small generator to provide the ability to run off the grid for depending on, on the situation for four hours or days on end without having to rely on, on the ecosystem, which is often devastated after a disaster.
And that obviously is, is a very important Kubota when you're talking about a, what we've seen in the last couple of years with Puerto Rico and portions of The Bahamas where in some cases they truly are off the grid. They are disconnected from contact at least for the first several hours while the storm is going on. But also in the wake of the storm as well.
Ron Ben-Zeev: (04:28)
W w 100%. And those are challenges by the way, that happened not only on an Island situation but also in the United States. Um, the three things that that happens after after a disaster, uh, we lose power, we lose communication because it's connected to power obviously. And then, uh, one of the, the third challenges, uh, which is absolutely crucial to survival is, is access to water. Our platform delivers literally all three that delivers both connectivity. There's communications built into the system. Uh, there is power because we're ringing our own system. And then depending on the requirement, we can also integrate water filtration and water from air capability within the package. So that way when it arrives in the location, you get not only an equivalency of care. So it's literally, if you go on our website, on clinics, on wheels.com, you will see what the inside looks like. It looks like your doctor's office, but it actually augments all this capabilities by providing really, uh, different ways of, of, of extending the reach and, and, and increasing survivability OD.
So then in, in the deployment of these, of these units, obviously it's probably a little bit different here in the United States then say Puerto Rico or The Bahamas. But in those instances, you, I would imagine, and probably in many of them, you're working with the defense department to be able to try and get these, these units into various locations, correct?
Ron Ben-Zeev: (05:57)
Yes. For, for the U S based items, no, for, uh, as soon as this case, The Bahamas has a foreign country, so we would go through different channels right now the DOD, but, but fundamentally, um, it's the logistical challenge of getting the help. There has always been the, the hard part. I mean, I think even then the U S Katrina, when it hit new Orleans, how long and how hard it was to provide the help within the continental United States. Those are challenges that, that unfortunately, are not going away in the design, uh, of these clinics. I'm guessing that you were consulting with various people in the health field and, and uh, and various other elements, uh, in terms of public safety to be able to put the items in these clinics that were the most necessary for, uh, for, uh, you know, dealing with these situations.
Ron Ben-Zeev: (06:50)
Yes. So we're fortunate that within our team, we have in medical expert that has been involved in, in the, uh, the design and implementation of, of surgical centers. Um, and uh, you know, so from that standpoint we have an internal capabilities, but we also lean on and leverage our, our connections both with ended you with the, on the, on the medical side as well as emergency response both within the state and as well within the, you know, different governmental agencies that provide us with feedback and guidance on what really matters when it and when you get in into those environments.
You mentioned before the, the aspect of innovation. I think this is a unique part to this story, especially when you're talking about trying to provide assistance to people in the wake of a, of a massive storm, a of some kind that the mindset of innovation really can open maybe some doors that that were not thought about in years past.
Ron Ben-Zeev: (07:48)
Again, it's, you know, sometimes you look at things and you go, Oh my gosh, of course it makes sense. Um, and in our case, where we try to look at is also what other companies have come up with. Things that make perfect sense on the integration. So for example, uh, we've integrated telemedicine within one of the units so that now the doctors or the nurses that are in the clinic and afford operating environment, um, that are providing assistance to people that are injured, if they don't have all the data or the capabilities, they can now reach back to people sitting in a hospital anywhere in the world and, and share with them information and ask for help. Those are things that didn't exist not too long ago, let alone in a, in a way that provides, uh, the ability to, to, to deliver the assistance.
Ron Ben-Zeev: (08:39)
And then when you think about it from a pure additional standpoint, because of the way we enter connect and with HIPAA compliance requirements that, that we meet, right, we can now capture patient data. So there is no break in the end, the continuity of care. So when the patient comes to the clinic and then for whatever reason he or she needs to be airlifted or, or, or just goes back home afterwards to their doctor, that data is still captured and shared. Did I have to worry? What did I get? What didn't I get? What was done? All that information follows the patient in a seamless manner.
So the deployment of these clinics started when and where are the locations that you've been able to, to help? Uh, in the early, in the early times now?
Ron Ben-Zeev: (09:27)
So the, the first deployment has been to, uh, to Puerto Rico of where the clinics arrived in the Island of [inaudible]. Uh, just a little bit of our air and yeah, probably a year and a half ago or so, uh, shortly after Maria and, and one of the greatest, uh, achievements that we think so far of, uh, of our, of our young companies life has been the fact that those units that were send as a temporary expeditionary solution have now been morphed into a fully accredited medical facility and are being used on the day to day basis by the people living on the Island of [inaudible], which is just out just in a South of, of, uh, of mainland, um, you know, in Puerto Rico. And that is, that is really the, the, the biggest success on the, and on the other aspects we've, we've loaned units, um, uh, to several disaster response entities within the state of Florida, uh, after the last hurricane that devastated North Florida. And then right now we're in conversation with several groups as to how and what they need and how we can deploy additional structures both within the DOD but also within the disaster relief world and some of the foundation world as well.
Well, I would think that this is also, as you're deploying some of these units out, this is also a time to be able to gain data, further data to be able to, to see where you know, where the benefits are being created, but also what potentially could be added to these, to these vehicles moving forward. Correct.
Ron Ben-Zeev: (10:58)
Yes. Uh, you know, obviously feedback from the customer on on this work, this didn't work or you know, it would be great if, uh, this was also added. Those kinds of things are, are invaluable, uh, and provide us with the ability to always see, improve and continue to, uh, to provide a product that the customer cares about. Uh, because as, as the adage goes, no one cares about your, your solutions. They care about their problems. And our key is to find ways to solve those problems.
Ron Ben's a of a Wharton alumnus. He is also the CEO of world housing solution joining us, talking about, uh, their clinics on wheels. And I would imagine that, that there are elements of this project, Ron, that, that do dovetail back into the work that you've been doing with world housing solution over the last few years
Ron Ben-Zeev: (11:45)
and with a a hundred percent and the lessons that we've been fortunate enough to learn through the work we've done with, with virtually every branch, the of the U S military has been absolutely crucial to our ability to, to work in, develop the clinics on wheels and, and vice versa. Certain things that we've learned from that have been transferred back into, in, in, into the solutions that we've delivered for the U S military.
What is this, what is the state of the company right now in terms of, uh, of the reach that you've been able to have, uh, with these different housing solutions in locations around the world?
Ron Ben-Zeev: (12:21)
Uh, so we've been very, very fortunate that, that our growth has, has, you know, been, uh, recognized by several, several entities. So last year where we made the inc 500 list at number 444 would actually put us, uh, as a number one fastest growing manufacturing company in the state of Florida and number six in the country. And this year we are a number two or six, I'm on the inc 500. Some growth continues, uh, interest continues unabated, which is a wonderful thing. Uh, obviously for so many reasons, uh, not without challenges mind you, right. Growth growth brings, uh, additional challenges that, uh, that need to be addressed, uh, on, on an ongoing basis. And what we've been able to do is deliver structures for the U S military, uh, throughout the world, uh, on virtually every continent with a fairly large concentration within the African comm. Then in particular,
this has been a company that I guess has been, uh, you know, working now for what, about a decade at this point? Maybe just shy of a decade, correct, Ron?
Ron Ben-Zeev: (13:27)
Correct. It's shy of a decade. We launched in 2011.
Right. So, I would imagine that that there are obviously challenges in terms of the development of the company as a whole world housing solution and obviously thinking longer term with something like clinics on wheels and maybe there might be a next venture that's already starting to percolate inside of you as to where you want to take your company next.
Ron Ben-Zeev: (13:52)
Yes. Um, it, you know, that the benefits and the ability to be able to interact with uh, uh, with the decision makers and, and the customers, uh, obviously always bring to light, uh, opportunities. So last week we were at the Pentagon where we had, uh, various meetings with, uh, with several folks, uh, and, and understanding some of the challenges and how, uh, both, both short terms and short term and longterm and, and ultimately how do we, how do we solve some of the challenges? And oddly enough, uh, for many, uh, the challenges that the U S military has, particularly when it comes to the logistical burden and the challenges of, of reducing, uh, the, the amount of energy that the structures on the camps utilize in their Ford operating environment trickles directly. And, and has the identical impact for NGOs, non-governmental agencies, organizations as well as nonprofits. So think of a UN high commission for refugees and have the same problems, the red cross doctors without borders, all those it, all those agencies and entities have similar challenges. And, and we look forward to taking the lessons that we've learned with and through and thanks to the DOD and apply those in, in those arenas as well.
We're joined by Ron Benz, a of CEO of world housing solution. Your comments are welcome at eight four four Wharton (844) 942-7866 or if you'd like send us a comment on Twitter app. Is radio one 32 or my Twitter account at Dan Loney 21? Actually a comment from Jane in Los Angeles who joins us on the phone. Jane, go ahead.
Call-in Speaker: (15:31)
Good morning. Um, it sounds like a great program and I wanted to know what your staffing needs were. This sounds like, um, something would be a great partnership with an academic medical center. You know, there are many across the country that probably would love to work with you,
Ron Ben-Zeev: (15:50)
Brian. Oh, it, you just, you just hit the proverbial nail on the head. Um, and you're exactly right. The ability to a, uh, provide an understanding of what our capabilities are because it is fairly unique and fairly new, uh, to, to agencies and companies that are out there providing help. But at the same time having an opportunity to reach back and especially through telemedicine and provide the ability for the, for the people on the ground to say, Hey, we can reach out to these doctors or provide these kinds of capabilities and knowledge without having to leave the comfort of their home or, or their, their hospital office are absolutely paramount to, to this
Jane, thanks for
Call-in Speaker: (16:33)
doctors and nurses. Staffing.
Ron Ben-Zeev: (16:37)
Yes. In an indirect fashion. So we don't necessarily deal with that directly, but it would be the ability to create a partnership or, or, um, some kind of a relationship with entities that can provide an augment the, uh, the ability to, to do that.
Jane, thanks very much for the call. So run. Then in the, in the instance of Puerto Rico, you're working with a medical, uh, professionals that are, that are there on the ground in Puerto Rico.
Ron Ben-Zeev: (17:05)
Yes. So the clinics were, were acquired and implemented by the department of health or Puerto Rico, who, uh, who then staffed them and is utilizing on, on use, on utilizing them on the day to day basis, uh, to provide the healthcare needed by, uh, by the, uh, the citizens and the people living on VA case itself.
What's been the feedback that you've gotten from them about having these types of, uh, of facilities and the benefits that they, you know, seemingly are providing?
Ron Ben-Zeev: (17:32)
Uh, you know, the, what, what the, the, um, one of the best feedbacks that we've read, feedback that we received was from actually people living directly on the Island who have looked at this and said, I no longer have to take a ferry to go and get a, um, you know, dental care or have to go and take an airplane to get a medical care. It's now, right. They are, they obviously the, the, the infrastructure was decimated after Maria and they had to shut down their clinic. This now provides them with, with the similar care, if not better in some instances as what they had. And then by the way, your day, you were talking about technology, um, we incorporated a battery operated extra machine, uh, that utilizes very low energy on an ongoing basis but provides, you know, full capabilities that you would have in a traditional office but on a, on a much lighter footprint. Uh, and, and, and that data and that information can now also be shared through telemedicine, uh, with, uh, a radiologist somewhere to take a look at things. So fairly interesting approaches.
Well, I think the element of solar incorporating it with the clinics is obviously an important component. When you think about it, as you said before, in certain sense instances, these clinics are in locations where you won't have electricity because of the storm. That a, that a, especially in Puerto Rico that decimated the electric grid, uh, in that, in that part of the world when, uh, when Maria went through. So having solar is really the only way to be able to have that energy source, to be able to run some of these devices
Ron Ben-Zeev: (19:11)
it correct and, and provide and provide safety and, and, and uh, uh, when it comes to, to operating the equipment itself. So, uh, the, the biggest challenge and Puerto Rico and other places for that matter is when the grid is affected is how or, or logistics are impacted. How do you bring fuel to run the generators for an ongoing period of time? Those are all the problems that you face. And that's why we bring the lessons that we've learned through the DOD on reducing the energy requirements of those platforms in those, in, in the end, those forward operating or austere environment, uh, that, that are caused, uh, after a, a manmade or natural disaster.
So the relationship with the department of defense has been, has been vital for moving this forward.
Ron Ben-Zeev: (19:57)
Without a doubt, without a doubt.
What is, what are the greatest lessons? You mentioned one right there, but what are some of the greatest lessons you've learned over the course of a, of your relationship with the defense department in terms of building out both world housing solution but also these clinics as well?
Ron Ben-Zeev: (20:12)
So going back to to the, to the story of world housing solution itself is we've, we manufacture structures that uh, so think of us as Ikea meets construction. So it all comes in and in, in, in a, in panelization form. And it can be assembled by own skilled labor on almost any terrain because we bring a, our own foundation. It's a leveling like foundation. And once you're inside, because of the level of insulation, it reduces dramatically the need for, for energy to air conditioning or heat the structures. Um, those things that were, that were driven hard into us by the department of the fence in order to solve the challenges that they were having. And, and then interfacing and working with them end to end, you know, hand in hand for, again, for almost the last eight years or so. And understanding of those challenges and being able to understand and realize that those challenges also translate back to the commercial world or to the disaster relief world has been invaluable.
Uh, Ron, as I mentioned, obviously you're a Wharton grad and I wanted to take the last minute or so to, to talk about your experience in being involved with world housing solution and opening the company and working with the defense department and obviously now the clinics. And what do you think that, that you would say to, to current Wharton students and current business students in general about your experience and being able to bring these, uh, these, these ideas forward?
Ron Ben-Zeev: (21:46)
You know, what, if there's, there's one thing that I've learned both through obviously, uh, my undergrad years I warden and then my, my life in the world of business is that you cannot fall in love with your solutions. You have to take a look at what their real challenges are and, and if your solutions don't apply, pivot. So again, we are name is world housing solution. We were an odd born to, to work with originally and deal with challenges within the DOD, but we fail miserably at first in that world. We did not win or achieve any success in the disaster relief world at the beginning, but were discovered by the DOD. So we pivoted, we took lessons learned here, applied them there, and continue to grow. And then the key obviously is that you're not alone. It requires teamwork. It requires people around you that are smarter, that bring other forms of, of capabilities. And then last but not least, we've been extremely fortunate to also partner up and learn from other companies in things that may be completely outside of our realm of expertise, but we can bring their expertise and what they've learned, developed and engineered and incorporated that and connect dots able to be successful.
Ron, great to talk to you again. All the best with that, with both of these. Thank you very much for joining us today. I appreciate it. Ron. Ben Zay of CEO of world housing solution and also a developer of clinics on wheels. For more insight from knowledge at Wharton, please visit [inaudible] dot Wharton dot U penn.edu