BURLINGTON — LDV, formerly Lynch Diversified Vehicles, has been building large, specialty trucks for many different purposes since about 1975.
But within the past five years, LDV, 180 Industrial Drive, has been focusing more of its attention and resources on building special trucks for the health care industry.
LDV, currently an employer of 240 people, has just finished an approximately 40,000-square-foot expansion, nearly doubling its size.
The growing company manufactures special vehicles that include bookmobiles, mobile command centers for law enforcement, Snap-On tool trucks, mobile medical and dental clinics, mammography vans, mobile labs for crime scene processing, haz-mat equipment trucks and explosive-ordnance-disposal trucks.
One example includes the Racine Police Department’s mobile command vehicle that is used during special events and for emergency situations.
Developing the finished product
LDV starts with a rugged chassis and plain, empty body and then a small crew converts it into a fully finished product, a process that can take anywhere from two days to six months.
The medical vehicles are usually 36 or 40 feet long but can be up to 45 feet, typically 13 feet tall from the ground, and 8½ feet wide.
New medical vehicles can range in price from $250,000 to more than $1 million.
“Or, you can get a used one for $85,000,” said Mary Lynch, LDV’s director of marketing and business development.
So far, said LDV’s Cory Weithaus, who does the medical-vehicle sales, the company has built more than 20 medical vehicles.
“The recent trend from the past 16 months, from the medical side, has been a demand for mobile mammography and mobile dental and then, obviously, mobile medical which we would call general medical,” Weithaus said. There are also audiology, or hearing, vehicles and “bloodmobiles.”
According to Mobile Health Map, a collaborative research community whose goal is to evaluate and demonstrate the impact of mobile clinics, they are playing a “vital role in the U.S. health care system. These programs achieve good patient outcomes, boast impressive returns on investment, and reach underserved communities that otherwise experience barriers to accessing health care.”
Competing on quality
Many other companies compete with LDV in manufacturing medical vehicles, Lynch said.
“Our reputation, in my opinion,” Weithaus said, “is in building a superior product. We’re typically the second build for an organization that bought strictly on price the first time around.”
“The educated buyer comes back the second time and makes a much different choice,” Lynch added. “And I would say that we have secured that choice because we have been doing this for a very long time, and we’ve done it in a number of industries. And we’re not the low-cost provider, but we provide an incredible product and incredible service.”
Medical vehicles comprise about 10 percent of LDV’s overall business, Lynch said. Both she and Weithaus think the company can increase that percentage.
“The market is there,” Weithaus said.
Mobile clinics are used in both urban and rural settings, and perhaps 60 percent are crossover vehicles used in both, Lynch said.
Meeting community needs
In the Chicago market where LDV is strong, “Their method of delivery (of health care) is schools,” Weithaus said. “… The kids, the people that come on board don’t normally get the treatment.”
“You’re reaching people that otherwise would never set foot into a clinic,” Lynch said. “There’s so much of it that is truly reaching the underserved.”
As an example, with dental vehicles, more than 40 percent of the children who are seen have cavities, she said. “These are kids that are not getting dental care.”
For mammography vehicles, the average woman who is seen has not had a mammogram in five years, Lynch added.
“Now the flip side of that is: Your hospital system is probably acquiring that patient,” Lynch said. “But it’s not a money thing, because typically these people are uninsured or on Medicare or Medicaid.”
Weithaus said some health care providers will send a mobile clinic to a corporation to provide service to the employees. That ensures the employees will receive the health and wellness.
Some hospitals have two or three medical vehicles, Weithaus said; they may have medical, mammography and dental, for example.
In all cases, there’s a lot of sophisticated technology on board a medical vehicle and an incredible amount of careful calculating involved in building such a vehicle. LDV has three degreed electrical engineers, five mechanical engineers and a computer-aided-design staff of four.
“We’re an integrator,” Lynch said. “There’s a lot of factors at play when you put expensive equipment in things. And that’s what we’re really good at.”