Regions Central Virginia

Ready Corp. sees opportunity in Haiti

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce

William G. Hancock sees Haiti, a country devastated by an earthquake in 2010, as a prime location for the inexpensive but sturdy homes developed by Richmond-based Ready Corp.
At the recent Building Back Better Communities Housing Expo in Haiti, Hancock pitched the benefits of Ready’s homes to Haitian officials and a number of nongovernmental organizations such as the Red Cross and Food for the Poor.

“It’s a large shopping mall for new housing,” explains Hancock, Ready’s CEO. “You have all the buyers in one location.”

Richmond native Charlie Daniel founded Ready Corp. in 2007 in Indianapolis in response to housing problems that arose on the Gulf Coast after it was hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Many trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency had hazardous levels of formaldehyde. Daniel developed an alternative, environmentally friendly shelter and eventually was awarded a contract with FEMA, selling 100 units.

Hancock joined the company in 2009 after Daniel moved Ready to Richmond. Hancock had a 34-year career with the Richmond law firm Troutman Sanders. The company has expanded to four product lines: disaster-response housing, military housing for field locations, job-site worker housing and permanent housing.

Ready’s homes are made from light-gauge steel framing systems and panels from compressed agricultural fiber (CAF). The structures can withstand earthquakes and wind of up to 140 miles per hour.  “Straw is agricultural waste from a rice or wheat harvest,” Hancock says. “The straw is converted to panels. The result is a hard and structural panel that is also sustainable and eco-friendly.”

While the basic design of the homes was developed by Ready, Patrick Farley of Watershed Architects in Richmond created specific designs for overseas markets such as Ghana. Lionel Pressoir, a Haitian builder, modified the basic model for use there. Each home is built on site at costs ranging from $5,000 to more than $45,000.

Hancock notes that one of Haiti’s priorities beyond housing is the development of its agriculture. “This all fits with Ready’s approach to housing,” he says. “When the demand exists, Ready would set up a CAF plant in Haiti creating new jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and housing.”

Ready already has sold five units that will be used in Haiti. It also has about 10 units in the U.S. and a spec/model home in Ghana.

With recently discovered oil and a resurgence of its gold production, Ghana appears primed for significant growth. “Its current president, John Atta Mills, is committed to providing affordable housing for Ghanaians,” Hancock says.

The Ghanaian president also advocates boosting the country’s agricultural industry. “Africa is viewed as a food source for the world,” Hancock says. “We want to get in on the economic development. We are working with a Ghanaian developer who is set to sign a contract to work with the government of Ghana to provide affordable homes.” 

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