Recognizing a need emerging amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Napanee-based Venture Food Trucks (www.venturefoodtrucks.com) has expanded its business to include production of mobile medical and disaster relief units.
Similar to a food truck, the units are easy to sterilize, can be placed just about anywhere and can be customized to suit a whole host of needs. The idea was originally conceived as a COVID-19 testing unit (https://venturefoodtrucks.com/disaster-relief-containers/), but the father-daughter team of CEO Will Hodgskiss and general manager Niki Hodgskiss envision several practical uses for all matters relating to disaster relief.
“We’re creating a new brand of the company, we’ve done extremely well selling carts, trucks and trailers,” explains Will, who also owns Willy Dog, which specializes in custom hot dog carts. “We started making COVID testing units and related medical things, utilizing the customer’s wants which is almost as custom as the trucks. We hardly ever do the same thing twice.”
More than just food trucks, they’ve also built custom mobile dog-grooming salons and boutiques.
Last week they completed work on their first modular COVID testing unit. The trailer is complete with a window, sink, tables, fridge and plenty of storage. They plan to give the unit to a hospital or university as a sort of field test and then take any feedback from the medical professionals to add any tweaks to the final product.
“We’re going to let them have a say over what they need in it,” added Niki. “We’ve got it set up right now as a sterile environment for testing, we’re going to give them the opportunity to let us know if they need it with some different equipment or they may want us to install some of their equipment in it and cater it to their needs.”
All the work is done from their location at 212 Camden Rd in Napanee, inside a former Gibbard Furniture storage building.
“(The units) can be built really quickly, within a week or two we can have it ready in a trailer or a container or as a truck,” said Niki. “We can hit remote communities, they can be moved around easily. They are a good fit for a community in need. If there’s a demand in a community that doesn’t have the resources, we can set up a bunch of trailers or containers, you can basically use them for whatever you want.”
Aside from serving as an mobile testing unit outside a hospital to limit spread of an infection, they could be used as medical test and supply storage or even just a place to rest for workers in the middle of a disaster relief effort.
It’s because of its many practical uses that the company will continue to produce them even as several countries appear to be through the worst of the current pandemic.
“COVID isn’t going to be around forever,” added Will. “I’m confident within a matter of months or so we’ll be getting to the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s already the light at the end of the tunnel, it depends where you are. We plan to continue on with it beyond COVID.”
They’ll work with Queen’s Business and Engineering students to find their market.