SEATTLE – March 27, 2020 – After a year of significant milestones including the acceleration of our development pipeline, a partnership with NREL, the closing of $23 million Series A funding, and our expansion into California, Blokable has now been dealing with the rolling implications and fall-out from the COVID-19 spread throughout the West Coast. We have offices in Seattle and Sacramento and a manufacturing facility in Vancouver, Wash. – all areas hit early and hit hard by the virus. We moved quickly to remote work for product development, engineering, finance, and real estate development teams, and on March 16 we made the decision to temporarily stop work on our factory floor. We are seeing major disruptions in the real estate market, supply chain, transportation, and logistics, and of course disruptions in the lives of those around us, in the communities where we work and live.
In early March, we were contacted by the Washington State Department of Health, who were in the process of planning a quarantine site. They had secured RVs but needed an accessible housing unit that would serve an individual in a wheelchair. We quickly responded that we had a demo unit that we had been using to showcase our building system, quality of finishes, and unique design elements, as well as to measure ongoing energy efficiency and air quality. The demo unit or “Blok” was sitting in the back lot of our Seattle office after having made trips to San Francisco for a Kaiser Permanente event and to Redmond, Wash., for a demo with Bill Gates. We immediately offered up our Blok to the Department of Health at no charge, and the team got to work organizing the logistics of craning, transport, and siting the Blok at the quarantine site in Centralia, Wash. On March 25th, our Blok was installed at the quarantine site and connected to temporary power, water, and sewer and fitted with an accessible entry ramp, so the individual in need will be able to move in right away.
Even in these tragic and challenging circumstances, it is inspiring to see how quickly our region’s healthcare leaders and the broader business and technology community have mobilized to respond to the pandemic – by scaling up testing sites, procuring protective equipment for healthcare workers, fast-tracking the development of treatments and vaccines, and securing food and shelter for at-risk individuals. We still have a long way to go in fighting this pandemic and mitigating future outbreaks, not to mention addressing the economic damage to our country. While this is uncharted territory for the real estate and construction industries, it reinforces our core belief that housing and public health are intertwined, and that housing should be broadly accessible and affordable to all. We need to develop high-quality housing, at significantly lower cost, and faster than we ever have before.
Blokable is looking forward to resuming factory operations as soon as healthcare experts advise that it is safe to do so, and in the meantime we stand ready to help our communities in any way we can.
Craning the Blok over top of our office and onto the truck in Seattle
Blok arrival at the quarantine site Centralia, Wash.
Blok installation at the quarantine site in Centralia, Wash.
Temporary accessible ramp added on site for entry