Global engineering and construction firm Black & Veatch sponsored the 2023 Edison Awards Critical Human Infrastructure category – recognizing solutions that improve quality of life, spur economic growth, and prepare for a more resilient future. The company’s Digital Equity Bus won Gold in the Social and Cultural Impact category by bridging the digital divide through mobile workforce development infrastructure. Participating as both a sponsor and a winner of the Edison Awards supports Black & Veatch’s relentless commitment to innovation in the following ways:
- Provides a platform to bolster brand recognition, exemplify thought leadership, and
showcase innovative ideas
- Generates leads from prospective clients the company normally wouldn’t have
opportunities to interact with
- Develops mutually beneficial partnerships with established and emerging companies
After winning Gold at the Edison Awards, the Black & Veatch team sought additional ways to bring mobile and modular solutions to community-focused organizations. Following the successful delivery of the Digital Equity Bus to Evergreen Goodwill, the company began designing a mobile solution for Goodwill of Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas (MoKan Goodwill) in Black & Veatch’s hometown of Kansas City.
Nonprofit Growth Strategy Sparks Innovation
The U.S. secondhand clothing market maintains a strong trajectory, expected to reach $70 billion by 2027. Goodwill Industries is a nonprofit organization that proves an unassuming bag of secondhand donations has the power to change lives. Through Goodwill’s retail stores, sales from donations fund job training, employment placement services and other community-based programs.
MoKan Goodwill already has a very successful business operation, but they are always strategizing how to further bolster their operations and better serve their communities. The nonprofit had four main goals that sparked the integration of a mobile solution into their growth strategy:
- Extend the reach of existing stores. They wanted a mobile solution they could bring to
high-donation-potential areas (without existing retail stores) and deliver those donations
directly to those in need in other parts of the community (for example, collecting coats
and delivering them directly to unhoused individuals).
- Pilot test locations for future retail stores. MoKan Goodwill is strategic about where
they open new retail locations to ensure community interest and economic viability.
They needed a way to utilize temporary solutions to test out new locations, without
making major multi-year investments in permanent infrastructure.
- Identify more cost-effective ways to collect donations. Leasing retail space (or even
just parking lot space for Conex boxes) is expensive. Identifying cost-effective
alternatives to long-term leasing allows the nonprofit to re-invest any money saved back
into their education and employment programs.
- Increase competitive advantage in the retail space. With many other secondhand stores
entering the market, MoKan Goodwill needed mobile methods of gathering donated
goods to fill their retail locations. They also were seeking more creative ways to drive
brand awareness in the community.
Mobile Solution Inspired by Disaster and Health Crisis Responses
Black & Veatch’s mobile and modular units provide infrastructure for a variety of different community and commercial use cases. The team designed a custom solution to fit MoKan Goodwill’s needs — the Mobile Donation Collection Vehicle (MDCV). The Black & Veatch team was inspired by FEMA’s disaster supply distribution efforts (and the company’s own health crisis response innovations) and consolidated these concepts into a single vehicular solution. The MDCV uses a drive-through orientation to collect and organize donations at remote sites and transport them to MoKan Goodwill’s centralized hub for processing and distribution. The vehicle is designed to extend the overall reach of MoKan Goodwill’s existing stores, test locations for retail store viability, host pop-up donation events and more.
By the Numbers
- Each MDCV can process 100 to 150 donating customers per day.
- Since our mobile solution is a 30-foot box truck, no commercial driver’s license is required.
- The vehicle features a 5.5-kW generator (with internal and external power outlets), a 13,500-BTU AC and heat pump, and a 3,000-pound lift gate.
- For extra space and shelter from the elements, the MCDV is also equipped with motorized awnings on both sides and two 20×20 rapid-deploy pop-up tents.
Other vehicle features include:
- Office with internet connection and desk with secure storage
- Employee and volunteer lounge area with microwave, minifridge and bathroom
- Heating and cooling temperature controls and air purification system
- GRMS portable radio system for personnel communications
- Traffic control devices including cones, printed signs and digital signage option
- Industrial-sized containers for collection transportation
- Forklift or pallet jack
- Tie-down points for storage
Beyond design and construction of the MDCV, Black & Veatch provided additional support that includes financial analysis, deployment support and operational planning. Prior to MoKan Goodwill’s purchase of the vehicle, the team performed a financial analysis to prove that the additional revenue would offset the cost of the vehicle over time. Black & Veatch also worked with MoKan Goodwill leadership to plan how to most efficiently set up and run the vehicle, leveraging the company’s expertise in logistics and management consulting.
Black & Veatch delivered the first-ever MDCV to MoKan Goodwill in late May 2023, with its first official deployment in early June. The team is engaged in discussions with other Goodwill organizations about designing custom vehicles for them as well. As this solution continues to generate interest, the long-term plan is to develop a standard MDCV that can be produced quickly but still be customizable as needed. Download Black & Veatch’s free ebook to learn more about mobile and modular solutions: Five Ways to Rapidly Address Evolving Business and Community Needs