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 your donations fund job training, employment placement services and other community-based programs.
Black & Veatch has built relationships with various Goodwill organizations around the country. For example, Evergreen Goodwill of Northwest Washington already is using one of Black & Veatch’s award-winning mobile and modular solutions to bring workforce development skills (including English and computer literacy classes) to refugees. The mobile and modular solutions team is now collaborating with Goodwill of Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas (MoKan Goodwill) to design new solutions to meet their business objectives — all in Black & Veatch’s hometown of Kansas City.
Nonprofit Growth Strategy Sparks Innovation
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 20x20 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 plans to deliver 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. Learn more about Black & Veatch’s modular solutions here.