Kansas City Business Journal - by James Dornbrook
Date: Monday, May 14, 2007, 12:00am CDT - Last Modified: Thursday, May 10, 2007, 2:10pm CDT
A Shawnee manufacturer hopes to filter out profits with a line of carts that let contractors work in hospitals without harming the air quality.
After about four years of product development, HEPACART Inc. made its first product shipments in April. The carts, which sell for about $7,000, lock into place and create a negative air pressure that captures any dust or contaminants that might be stirred up from work above the ceiling.
HEPACART is a spinoff of TED Systems LLC, which does wiring for fire control, intercom, security and other systems. Herb Farnsworth, managing partner of HEPACART and co-owner of TED Systems, said the idea for the new company sprang from a job at Children's Mercy Hospital, where it was important to keep dust and other contaminants from being released into the air.
The contractor started to look for a cart to buy to handle air filtration but found it was better to build its own.
"There were people building carts who didn't have the tools, time or expertise to build carts, and everybody builds them a little differently," Farnsworth said. "There are no standards. Some are tested, and some are not."
The company set out to design, produce and sell a well-tested, standardized product that protects patients and speeds up work. Air Safe LLC of Liberty tests all of HEPACART's products.
David Becerra of Shaw Electric Co. bought one of the first carts produced.
"We have portable tents that do the same thing, but they are labor intensive, and labor is obviously something that you try to manage," Becerra said. "The cleanliness of this cart was huge to us because it easily wiped down. We liked all its features and its clean look."
Becerra said Shaw Electric uses the carts whenever it works at a hospital or medical center.
Clients appreciate seeing the carts used and contaminants contained, he said, even if the work is in an area where it is not required.
John DeWitt, facilities manager for Shawnee Mission Medical Center, said the hospital started requiring containment precautions this year. He said Children's Mercy led the way, instituting requirements several years ago. As a board member of the Kansas City Area Health Engineers, DeWitt said he thinks all hospitals eventually will require containment.
Farnsworth said new infection control standards are driving hospitals to institute containment requirements, putting HEPACART on the ground floor of a growing market.
Farnsworth said the local rollout is the first part of a three-phase plan to expand regionally, then nationally.