Originally founded in 1949, Medical Coaches Inc. was a New York City
marketer of portable medical vehicles to domestic and international public
health agencies. The firm sub-contracted the actual manufacture of the
vehicles to the Linn Coach & Truck division of Great American Industries,
which was located in Oneonta, New York.
Business increased to the point where Linn Coach created a separate
mobile health division to oversee the vehicle’s manufacture. When a strike
forced the closure of Linn Coach in late 1953, manufacture of the firm’s
Medicoaches was taken over by Linn Coaches successor, the similarly named
Lyncoach & Truck Co. Inc.
Medical Coaches relocated to Oneonta in 1955 in order to more closely
oversee the manufacture of their products and by 1958 business was
sufficient to justify the creation of their own plant.
Medical Coaches purchased the assets and intellectual property of
Lyncoach’s mobile health division and moved into their own factory.
Lyncoachs’ military vehicle and truck body division was unaffected by the
transaction and continued to manufacture trailers and truck bodies in
Oneonta through 1972 when the moved all of their operations to their plant
in Troy, Alabama, which had been established in 1959.
Medical Coaches Inc. remained in Oneonta, eventually establishing a
100,000 sq. ft. satellite facility in Albany, Oregon. Today, Medical Coaches
is the manufacturer of choice for complex mobile medical systems for both
military and non-military end users. The firm's various addresses over the
Medical Coaches, Inc. 1949-1955 - New York City, New York
Medical Coaches, Inc. 1955-1957 - 16 Dietz Street, Oneonta, New York
Medical Coaches Inc. 1957-1976 - 300 Country Club Rd, Oneonta, New York
Medical Coaches Inc. 1976–Present - 399 County Hwy 58, (Hemlock Rd.) Oneonta, New York
Medical Coaches West Inc. – 2000 - Present - 3750 Marion St SE, Albany, Oregon
Although a detailed history of the firm could be written today, the firm has
been so well-covered by the Oneonta Star (Oneonta, New York), that I'll let their reporters tell the
story of the firm from its early days through the present time:
September 24, 1956 Oneonta Star:
Firm Puts Oneonta on World Map By Bob DePlante, Star Staff Writer
"If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, then Mohammed will go to the
This ancient saying expresses the theory on which Medical Coaches Inc.,
16 Dietz Street, has built an international business. Specializing designing
and selling medical units on wheels, it has made the name of Oneonta known
in more than 40 capitals of the world, has been responsible for Oneonta
playing host to heads of foreign countries and plans on expanding its
business to many more countries.
Started about nine years ago, the firm has maintained offices here since
that time. The president, Ian M. Smith has lived in Oneonta a year and a
half. "My sales manager, Joseph Sanchez, and I decided to move to Oneonta
after we had operated a few years in New York." Mr. Smith said. "We found
the community, the workmen and the environment exactly what we think is
necessary for a successful operation. And we found in Oneonta a firm which
could manufacture our products to specification. This was an important factor
in deciding our move to this area." he said. "We
don't do any manufacturing, it is all done by Lyncoach."
"We build many different kinds of units." Mr. Smith said. "Our business
was originally started to design and sell medical units. We were successful
in this field and now design and sell units for veterinarians, sales
promotion, blood banks and educational exhibits."
"We feel proud of our units," Mr. Smith continued. He then displayed several letters received from heads of foreign
countries, heads of medical societies, Indian agents in the southwest, farmers and doctors,
attesting to the success they have had with the medical coach units
designed to meet specific problems.
Among the letters Mr. Smith displayed was one from General Motors stating
that the unit designed on a General Motors frame by Medical Coaches Inc., would be
used in literature sent to dealers throughout the world.
"This we consider a high compliment," he said. "It shows that the time we
take in making each unit a separate job is being recognized by the best in the
Mr. Sanchez, sales manager for the firm, told of many instances in which
he has been complimented by UN officials and foreign representatives for the
fine job that medical coaches do in designing units to meet specific needs.
“But our biggest measure of success is our growing business”, he said.
“We started out on a very small scale and in only a few short years the name
of Medical Coaches Inc. of Oneonta has traveled around the world.”
“We are proud to be from Oneonta”, Mr. Smith said. “We enjoy being able
to tell our friends and business associates that Oneonta is the home of
Medical Coaches Inc., and we hope to grow with the community.”
A Doorway or a length of wall? Ian M. Smith, president of Medical Coaches
Inc. selects a magnetized section to lay on the drafting board. After each
piece is in place a blueprint can be made on paper with a special light. The use of the board
saves the company many man hours each week.
Mobile Drafting Board Saves Designers Time and Effort
“You might call it a mobile drafting board,” Ian M. Smith, president of
Medical Coaches Inc, said in describing the unique board on which each of
his units is designed before blueprints are submitted to the buyer for
“Each of the items on the board are held in place by small magnets”, Mr.
Smith explained, “and Joe and I (Joe is Joseph Sanchez, sales manager for
the firm) can move parts around without the bother of erasing or drawing up
“After we complete a unit, and it seems to meet the requirements of the
buyer, we can easily make a blueprint by slipping a piece of sensitized
paper in this little drawer, and subject the pattern to a special light. It
takes only a few minutes and makes a blueprint as effective as those drawn
The unique drawing board, which still is without an official name, was
the brainstorm of these two businessmen who have been using it to design
medical coaches since they moved to Oneonta 18 months ago.
“We never really compared it to conventional methods of blueprinting,” he
said. “But we feel that it saves us several week s of work on each unit that
we design for manufacture.”
The unit is only one of the many reason why Mr. Smith and Mr. Sanchez
have been so successful in their business, and have become known the world
over as the two men from Oneonta who can solve problems in making portable
February 2, 1957 Oneonta Star:
High Argentine Officials Visit Oneonta To Investigate Utility of Medical
By Bob De Plant Star Staff Writer
A low priced new car costing $10,000; on the other hand a full course
dinner for about $.89 cents. These are the extremes of living in Argentina
as told by two high-ranking government officials of that country who visited
In the United States as part of an accelerated public works program for
Argentina, are Dr. Jose S. Pedrotti, director general; and Alfredo Pirro,
secretary general, both of the Province of Missions.
“Our work in the United States consists of purchasing farm machinery, new
and rebuilt, and planning for the advancement of medical services to the
people of our country”, Dr. Pedrotti said.
The two officials were guests yesterday of Medical Coaches Inc., officers
of which have been explaining the use of Medical Coaches and their
application for use in the Argentina health program.
Speaking through Joseph Sanchez of Medical Coaches, who acted as
interpreter, Dr. Pedrotti explained that following the end of the Peron
regime, the provincial government set up an intensified program of public
works, which would account for the expenditure of $186,000,000 during
1957-58. The program includes allotment for road construction, irrigation
and conservation and public health, he said.
He pointed out that Medical Coaches as designed by the Oneonta firm,
would be the best method of serving the people in their country. A third member
of the mission, Ing. Guillermo Jeckela is in Chicago on
another phase of the mission, Dr. Pedrotti explained.
Dr. Pedrotti, President of the trade council explained that in Argentina
living standards are much different than in the United States. High import
taxes on cars result in a 1937 car selling for $1,300, and a new car for
more than $10,000. On the other hand, he pointed out, a new suit of the best
material will cost about $25, and roast beef sells for less than .15 cents a
Meat is the chief product of Argentina, he said, with tea and lumber
“Rock and Roll” has not yet hit the South American country, but Jazz is a
favorite with the teenagers. The favorite type music though, is still the
tango, he said.
Last night the two officials were guests of Medical Coaches at a dinner
in the Elks Club. Present were Olaf Nelson, city clerk, who represented the
municipal government, W. Clyde Wright, who represented the chamber of
Commerce, Dr. Michael Lipari, of the State Health Department; Ian Smith and
Joseph Sanchez of Medical Coaches and a representative of The Star.
Both of the Argentina officials said they were amazed at the hospitality
of Oneonta, but were just as amazed at the difficulty in getting here. They
came by bus after flying to New York yesterday morning.
“We will return to our homes with a very warm felling for Oneonta,” Dr.
Pedrotti said. “For of all the communities we have visited, the reception
given us here was by far the most impressive.” They also thanked Mayor Roger
Hughes, who greeted them at the bus station. “It makes us feel welcome when
busy men will take time to meet us.” They said.
They are returning to New York today, where they will meet with the third
member of their mission. Their next stop will be Washington. On March 1 they
will leave for Argentina, to carry material they have gathered to the
government of their country.
They were sent to the United States under the direct supervision of the
federal government of Argentina.
June 14, 1958 Oneonta Star:
Medical Coaches Opens Own Factory in Oneonta
Production Will Start On Monday By Pete Calisch, Star Staff Writer
A new industry starts factory operation in Oneonta this coming week.
Medical Coaches Inc. — only firm of its kind in the world — is scheduled to
begin production Monday at the Keyes estate lot on Country Club Road.
Offering a "Health-on Wheels" service, Medical Coaches has been distributing
health-mobiles to most of the countries in the free world for the past nine
Its work has been given to subcontractors. Now, president Ian Smith has a
plant of his own - on a lease arrangement with the Keyes estate.
The story of Medical Coaches pretty much is the story of Mr. Smith
himself — a dynamic man who has made friends from one end of the globe to
Born in Australia, Mr. Smith came to the United States before World War
Two, working for various business and advertising concerns. During the war
he helped the Australian government on lend-lease and nurtured the dream of
his own business.
Long familiar with Australia's "flying doctors," Smith wondered why there
were no facilities for bringing medical care to isolated areas in this
country. And so the idea of healthmobiles— of medical clinics on wheels—was
It came into full bloom in 1948 when he learned the Cuban government was
seeking some firm in America to produce vehicles equipped for mobile health
Without a factory or payroll, he agreed to undertake the contract. With
sharp business acumen and a working knowledge of medicine gathered through
the years, he went to work.
He designed the coaches and planned placement of equipment. After a
nationwide search, he found the old Linn Company in Oneonta was about the only plant
equipped to do specialized custom building of coaches. And, believe it or
not, within 55 days of the original order, Smith had 40 completed coaches
—ambulances, laboratories, living quarter coaches and clinical coaches—on
their way to Cuba.
That put Smith in business and earned him the reputation of a man whose
word is as good as his bond. "That's always been my philosophy," he says. Among the most
satisfied users of Smith's coaches is the U. S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, bringing
modern medical facilities to the remote reservations in Arizona.
Various state governments and health departments of nationally known
companies and major unions also use the health-mobiles. And chances are, wherever you
travel in the world, you'll find a Medical Coach. Like in South or Central
America or the Middle East.
More than 200 complete individualized units — designed especially for
each job—have been completed by Mr. Smith and sub-contractors. Now that he has his own
factory, to expand operations, he looks forward to even greater production,
which means greater health benefits to the peoples of the world.
Among the countries currently enjoying his services besides the U. S. are
Iran, Brazil, Turkey, Colombia, Indonesia, Puerto Rico and Ecuador.
As a sidelight, Smith even designed a mobile game coach for a gambling
house in Nevada. "Gambling is perfectly legal in Nevada you know," Smith
explained. And Australians are known to be great gamblers.
His medical units have a wide range of specialties: diagnostic health
centers, out-patient clinics, audio-visual testing units, laboratory and
research clinics and dental clinics, for example. There even is one for
They can come complete with power and water supply, interior heating, air
conditioning and the like . . ." supplied to meet your precise requirements within
His Health-on-Wheels units are self-propelled or tractor-driven semi-
trailer combinations, depending upon the type of terrain over which they
Medical apparatus and instruments are selected from some of America's
outstanding manufacturers. The same with drugs and Pharmaceuticals. Units
that contain x-ray equipment have special safety measures which eliminate danger of high
voltage and radiation to both operator and patient.
Public address and recording equipment, plus 16 m.m. movie projector and
screen are standard equipment for educational purposes.
Health-Mobile chassis are selected and adapted for local operating
condition, availability of service and individual preference. They can be Chevrolet, Ford, Mack,
International or other leading makes. Four-wheel-drive is used for rough terrain.
Electrical power is provided by a service inlet and cable from local sources
or from a trailer mounted "Onan" generator. Each coach has an auxiliary Onan
generator for emergency power.
Mr. Smith could have built his units anywhere. But he likes the people of
Oneonta. Also, his wife and four children and a nice home on Upper East contribute to
the picture. "It's people who count," he says. And he means it.
August 24, 1959 Oneonta Star:
Bound For Venezuela - This mobile veterinary clinic is going to the
University of Caracas, Venezuela, for use in field training of veterinarian students.
-Another like it went to Ecuador as a gift of the Rockefeller Foundation.
For Health In Ceylon - Two laboratories on wheels for human beings have
gone to Ceylon through CARE (Cooperative Remittances from America to Everywhere).
Two others like the above were ordered as a result of the success of the
first two. They are made by the Oneonta firm, Medical Coaches, Inc.
Compact Interior - This is the inside pf the veterinary clinic, the
outside of which is shown on-this page. It has a refrigerator, incubator,
electro-surgical unit, complete set of veterinary instruments, sterilizer, water tank and sink, 110-volt
generator and plug for outside power, storage for medicines and supplies,
power-driven ventilator, and a tent attachment for the outside, next to the outside basin shown in other
picture. Examinations can thus be made outside the mobile unit. The vehicle
has four-wheel drive and standard parts.
August 24, 1959 Oneonta Star:
For Better World Health Oneonta Firm Affects Far Places
"Made in Oneonta, New York, U.S.A."
Few Oneontans know how far and to what remote places this label has
traveled. In Egypt two beautifully and fully equipped mobile health units .
. .clinics on wheels . . . were turned over by CARE to the Ministry of
Health. Receiving them was Dr. Mohammed Nasser, who was named by President Gamal Abdel Nasser, to perform this
ceremony. The gift got good publicity in the Arabic press, for the
healthmobiles had been in demand for several years.
The two units were manufactured in Oneonta by Medical Coaches Inc.,
headed by Ian M. Smith, whose plant is now on the old Keyes airfield on
Country Club Road.
Rebels Used It
In strife-torn Cuba a mobile medical unit, gift of American church women,
was stolen by Fidel Castro's rebels and a Presbyterian physician was placed
in charge. It was used throughout the Castro rebellion, then returned to the
Presbyterian National Missions. Now the Missions has placed an order for
another just like it. It was made by Medical Coaches, Inc.
In Washington, D.C., a mobile health. clinic was displayed near the House
Office Building. It attracted so much attention that Rep. Samuel S.
Stratton, 32d District, New York, wrote a congratulatory letter to Mr. Smith. Again, it was made
in Oneonta By Medical Coaches, Inc.
Milwaukee . . City Health Department using a mobile chest x-ray unit; in
far off Ceylon . . . parents and children being examined at an Oneonta-made
healthmobile . . .
To Many Lands
The story could go further. To date, CARE (Cooperative American
Remittances to Everywhere), has sent ten of the health units overseas: two
to Egypt, four to the Philippines, one to Mexico, one to India, two to
Ceylon. They are ambassadors of goodwill to nations in want, and each bears
the label, "Made in Oneonta, New York, U.S.A."
But that isn't all. Since Mr. Smith started fabrication last September on
Country Club Road he has built 98 mobile units, which have been "delivered to 42
states and 40 foreign countries. He is now shipping out 33 ambulances to
Turkey. The sides of each unit are lettered in the Turkish language. Mr.
Smith held up a large piece of cardboard showing examples of Turkish script
and explained: "I had to do much research to determine which
was the top and bottom. You have to be careful. If you
get a word upside down it might be a bad word."
He turns out nine types of mobile units: dental, x-ray, veterinary,
ambulances, pre and post natal clinics, multiple screening, laboratory,
display and audio-visual. Mr. Smith, who designs and sells the units,
formerly jobbed out the manufacture but now he does that too. Job
classifications at his plant include plumbers, electricians, painters,
carpenters, welders, sheet metal workers, draftsman and engineer, sales
promotion and literature, secretarial and executive.
The extent of his personnel is not fully represented by the fulltime
employees at the plant, which number 35 or 40 now, for he jobs out-a lot of
work to individuals in Oneonta and immediate vicinity. He said he has more
orders than he can fill and that he needs more plant space.
The output of Medical Coaches Inc. is receiving a favorable press over a
wide area. An article in the publication, "Modern Veterinary Practice,"
termed Smith's mobile clinic "An answer to a veterinarian's prayer."
The article told of the experience of Dr. H. C. Harris of Lodi, Cal., who
has a Medical Coach veterinary clinic on wheels. Dr. Harris was quoted as
saying: "Because of sufficient storage space, adequate water, insulation and
refrigeration, it (mobile clinic) enables me, to give a cleaner, fuller and more nearly professional type
of service; I am particularly happy about having refrigerated transport for
the serums and vaccines. I am sure that all veterinarians would use them
more often if they always had them available."
The writer of the article appended an extra thought: "What he (Dr.
Harris) did not add was that failure to have them available constitutes an
incomplete service to the client."
The veterinary clinic to a degree represents the principles of the larger
mobile units: laboratories brought to the people.
Another article appeared in The Crusader, publication of Wisconsin
Anti-Tuberculosis Association. Dr. Maty Broadbent, director of the medical
department, in a separate letter, stated: "The unit is a beauty and being justly admired. We, at
the WATA, are still talking about the attractive colors and the
craftsmanship. I have also appreciated the excellent working relationship
that has existed. It is easy .to understand that your employees take pride
in the construction of the medical units and that they are glad to tribute
to better health in parts of the world."
February 6, 1963 Oneonta Star:
THE BIG ONE—Workmen at Medical Coaches Inc., review with, executive
John Christensen plans for a new mobile health unit destined for one of the
far places of the world. (L-R) Howard Kibel, East Worcester; Leonard Edwards,
Hartwick, Mr. Christensen, and David Hanor, Oneonta. (Star Staff Photo)
'AMERICA'S. IMAGE—This mobile health" unit, built in Oneonta, in, use
among Tibetan refugees in the high passes 'of north India, creates an image of
a sympathetic America, helping hand stretched across the miles. (L-R) Dr. Chaney,
successor to the late Dr. Thomas Dooley; Dr. Ualla Thamle, an Indian MD in charge
of the mobile unit; plus a Tibetan Lama and official.
Medical Coaches Publicize City
Sixty four countries around the globe grow more familiar with the name o£
Oneonta each day as they see coaches built at Medical Coaches Inc. perform
their miracles of mercy.
Every emerging nation, as it becomes a sovereign and independent
government, is the recipient of one of these units as a "birthday" gift from
the United States Government.
Medical Coach executive Ian Smith, reviewing 1962 for The Star, reported
that a unit (or more) made by Medical Coaches Inc., in Oneonta, is now in every one of
the 50 states plus the aforementioned 64 foreign nations. Secondary to the
widespread distribution of the units, Mr. Smith explained, but still most important on the local
scene, is a 25 to 30 percent increase .in business during 1962 as compared to 1961.
Medical Coaches operates two plants, Plant 1 on Country Club Road, and
Plant 2 in West Oneonta, where between 30 and 40 highly skilled men are
employed with an annual payroll near the $100,000 mark. Mr. Smith pointed
out that 1962 was the third year in which the U.S. Government had selected
Medical Coaches from Oneonta as the official U.S. gift to new nations.
He said, ". . . actually it is a credit to quality workmanship and the
materials supplied, a great deal of which comes, from businesses in Oneonta."
The Medical Coach executive lauded the quality of material furnished by
Oneonta suppliers along with the service by the business people. "Isn't that
Mr. Smith mused, "of all the multitude of products manufactured in the
United States they use our coaches for official gifts . . . it is a high
honor to have our products selected to represent Uncle Sam."
In particular, Mr. Smith singled out the area of India where the Tibetan
refugees have congregated. Hear, he said, the late Dr. Thomas Dooley in 1960
promised the Dalai Lama he would deliver two Medical coach units for use
among the refugees. The two coaches left Oneonta and were driven to San
Francisco where they went on display. Thousands of people paid a dollar apiece to autograph the sides of the unit in gold
leaf and so, when the coaches arrived in India and were delivered into the hands of
the Dalai Lama on January 17, 1962 they carried thousands of personalized
messages from Americans to the dispossessed people of Tibet.
"This is a gesture," Mr. Smith said, "that will never be forgotten".
Other units made in Oneonta are marketed by "blue ribbon" companies under
these firm’s brand names, Mr. Smith reported, saying further that GE Theater
is featuring a bit on the arrival of an Oneonta Medical Coach in Central America. Also, he reported, CARE has
prepared a half hour film already shown on more than 160 TV stations
explaining what happens to a mobile unit in Mexico.
With the use of Oneonta-manufactured equipment, he said, CARE has treated
more than, four million patients in more than 30 countries. The Medical
Coach executive praised the climate in Oneonta for "light industrial" use,
called it "excellent" and cited availability of highly skilled workmen for
this type of manufacturing.
Current big deal at Medical Coach is the construction of the largest
medical health unit ever built.
January 28, 1966 Oneonta Star
Medical Coaches shares in war against poverty; disease
Business; profits, climb approximately 12 per cent
MEASLES CLINIC — This independently suspended, self powered mobile
clinic is designed specifically to battle an expected world-wide epidemic of
measles. Medical Coaches have six of the four-wheel drive units in the building.
An important engagement of a vital battle in the world wide war against
disease has been joined at the Medical Coaches plants on Country Club Road and in West
Oneonta. No artillery shells are zeroing in on target; the whine of electric
drills and the whirr of power saws is heard instead of the rat-a-tat-tat of
machine gun fire, but the loss to the enemy of the engagement can mean a
toll in dead and maimed far exceeding many military skirmishes.
The enemy is time. The killer, that common childhood ailment, measles.
Because, Medical Coaches executive Ian Smith says, world health
authorities are certain that an epidemic of measles is due to rage through much of the world in
the next few months to come. At Medical Coaches workmen are hurrying the production of
six new immunization units which will be rushed to various parts of the
world, hopefully before the epidemic strikes, with six-man teams especially
trained in measles immunization. The crews of the units will be equipped
with a relatively new weapon against disease because the units will carry, not hypodermic syringes, but modern air-gun
injectors that actually blow the measles shot through the skin.
With such a unit and a limitless reservoir of serum, a team has been
known to immunize 400,000 people in a week. And, the Medical Coaches head said plans are to
build huge fleets of the 4-wheel drive, six man cab equipped units, each
with the independently suspended, generator powered immunization laboratory on the rear half of
Business at Medical Coaches has been excellent this year, Mr. Smith
reported, saying that he would estimate the increase at approximately 12 percent, both in sales
and profits. And he said he anticipates even bigger increases in orders for
the 1966 season.
Some of the more unusual coach, units built at Medical Coaches this year,
he said, are:
A 35-foot Hearing Test semi-trailer built for the United States
Department of Health, Education and Welfare for hearing testing surveys throughout the country.
A fleet of Demonstration and Training Coaches for the U.S. Bureau of
Mines. These units are designed as areas from which safety and accident
prevention can be taught to miners and industry on a nationwide scale.
A fleet, of Quality Control trailers for the Pepsi Cola Co. These units
are on the road visiting Pepsi Cola bottlers throughout the nation for the maintenance of
high product standards.
A Radiation Detector and Measuring Clinic for the U.S. Atomic Energy
Electronic Field Measurement and Test Vans for the U.S. Coast Guard
designed for transport by military aircraft. (Some units in use in South
Audio Visual and Education vehicles used to extend entertainment and
teaching programs in the Far East, Middle East, Africa and South America.
A mobile machine shop for the city of Washington, D.C., which will
provide welding, electrical power and compressor facilities for the repair
of bridges and buildings.
Mr. Smith said relatively little was done during 1965 in the line of
expansion at the Country Club Road plant where a new deep-bay wing was added
in 1964. But he said considerable equipment was added at the West Oneonta
plant where the principal welding and frame construction is done.
1-31-1967 Oneonta Star:
Medical Coaches Business Climbs
’66 year of the unusual order
Attention was drawn to the unusual for 1966 at Medical Coaches Inc., of
Country Club Road where Ian Smith reported on some of the radically different units
his firm was called upon to build. Perhaps the most unusual, he said, was a
trailer built for a major tire manufacturer containing instrumentation used
at Bonneville Salt Flats and the Indianapolis Speedway which costs $4,000 an
hour to operate.
Or maybe, Smith suggested, one could include the trailer built for the
Kennedy Space Center to carry a $l million computer. The Medical Coaches
executive said business climbed about 15 per cent in 1966 and the year ended
with about 58 people employed.
The firm is always hiring, he said, because of the continuing need of
workers such as plumbers, carpenters, electricians, and sheet metal workers.
Among the other more unusual orders filled in the past year, Smith said,
was a fleet of huge (40x10 foot) trailers that link into 20 foot wide
photographic laboratories for use in Viet Nam. Medical Coaches built some
mobile verification units for the space age administration which the Apollo
astronauts will use; a mobile color TV studio for the U.S. Navy; 51 medical
units for a new rural health program in a Latin American country, and a
series of portable dental x-ray units for various customers.
Among the less-than-usual was a video tape research clinic where
psychiatrists can interview patients and record conversation and action on
video tape while being observed in a clinically controlled environment.
Medical Coaches also drew national attention, Smith said, for the
construction of large, bus-type, mobile remedial reading units. In the year to come, the
executive explained, the same scale of progress can be expected. He reported
that the West End firm now has a backlog of orders counting up to
approximately eight months work.
January 30, 1968 Oneonta Star:
Medical Coach constructs addition at West Oneonta
By Ian M. Smith, President, Medical Coaches Inc.
In order to increase manufacturing space and to install new fabricating
machinery, we completed this month a 3600 square foot addition to our
fabrication Plant No. 2 in West Oneonta. During the last year, our business
has continued to increase in volume. Priorities and delays caused by the
Vietnam conflict have limited and delayed production to some extent. Normal
supplies of standard equipment which could reasonably be expected as "off
the shelf" items are now being quoted by suppliers for deliveries running
anywhere from 30 to 120 days. Many manufacturers have completed equipment
for delivery to us, but due to a particular component within the item which
may be subjected to a high military priority, it is not available and, in
consequence, deliveries of some purchased items are further extended.
During 1967, we continued to build a wide variety of unusual vehicles.
Presently, we have shipped our units to some 74 countries and to all the
States of the Union. The following vehicles may be of general interest to
readers of The Star:
ONE. A Mobile Video Tape Psychiatric Testing Unit.
We completed this fall, the first mobile unit of its kind in the world
which is being used in the New York City area as a sound-conditioned studio
in which patients can be interviewed throughout the metropolitan area under conditions which
rival the facilities within a fully-equipped psychiatric institute. Many health
agencies are emphasizing the need to treat mental health problems promptly. This
research vehicle is providing such facilities and is fully equipped as an air conditioned
and heated studio with complete video taping equipment to record a patient and psychiatrist
in a professional environment.
TWO. Many mobile coaches and trailers have been shipped to various parts
of the country.
In Great Neck, L.I., delivery was accepted this fall for a Mobile Study
Center which will serve as an in-service training clinic for teachers, remedial reading
studio, audio visual aids studio, work studies during the evening hours.
This unit has received national attention. It has been shown on national
television, with a write-up in the New York Times, Daily News of New York,
the London Daily Mail, and the London Daily Express. Various periodicals in
the school field are preparing articles concerning its unusual function for
solving teaching problems in suburban areas.
THREE. A Mobile Health Clinic and Eye Surgical Coach is being shipped
this month to a medical missionary in India.
This is the most unusual vehicle of its type, I believe, which has ever
been built. It is fully equipped so that up to 300 eye surgical, operations can be performed a
day in its interior, including the, equipment for grinding and preparing lenses for glasses.
It has an. area allocated for physical examination and family planning. The coach is
designed also to serve as living quarters for the surgeon and his nurse -
wife. This includes toilet and shower facilities, washer and dryer, stove,
sink, refrigeration, storage facilities. The large coach will tow a 37KW
diesel generator to provide the power for its operation. The chassis used for this bus unit is of English make, with a right-hand
drive, diesel engine, and took some 19 months to obtain from the Leyland
factory in England.
FOUR. A wide variety of mobile multimedia teaching coaches have been
shipped this fall.
One of the most interesting vehicles is going to Juneau, Alaska, for use
in the Southeast Alaska School System. Designed in conjunction with a professor of Boston
University, it will be driven to Seattle and then taken by ferry to Juneau.
It will operate along the waterways on scheduled ferry barges and driven
from pier side into the towns that have grown beyond the landing areas. It
is completely self-contained with its own generator, air conditioning and
heating system, and contains the latest audio visual, copying, projection,
video taping and TV studio equipment for use when it is placed into service.
During 1967, our company, in conjunction with other companies and the
Oneonta Chamber of Commerce, were responsible in conducting an institute at SUCO
which will, lead to the training of personnel who can satisfy job needs in this
The growth of many industries in this area is restricted due to the lack
of trained personnel which is available. While the emphasis may be on
college-trained graduates it is felt that industry and the State Labor
Department , together with the high school vocational and educational
authorities, at the university level must find some means of cooperation and
in providing courses and training programs to produce qualified carpenters,
welders, secretaries, service oriented individuals.
January 30, 1971 Oneonta Star:
Sales up, plant expanded
Completely self contained mobile television studio on wheels used
on-campus for teaching programs and special events at the State University
College, Binghamton. A Medical Coaches unit.
"Our sales in 1970 were the biggest in our history. The volume was such,"
said Ian M. Smith, President of Medical Coaches, "that we built an extension to our
plant in Country Club Road to handle the increase in orders."
Medical Coaches, located in Oneonta, manufacturers over 2,000 varieties
of mobile units designed to meet an almost limitless variety of needs. The Otsego County
firm sells this useful product — one that brings its services directly to the people — in
50 states and 85 foreign countries.
Medical Coaches are produced in two modern Oneonta plants by
approximately 50 employees. Equipment is installed in the main plant where
carpentry, electrical, painting and finishing operations are conducted. A
second plant in West Oneonta does the basic construction — fabricating,
framing, welding, etc.
Medical coaches are built from the tires up by Otsego County area workers
who take pride in what they do. From design to final paint job, it is all done in
Oneonta, and has been since the firm's inception here in 1952.
The variety of units produced by Medical Coaches is seemingly endless.
The firm's byword is: "Customizing unlimited ... Vehicles for every need."
The firm makes veterinary and dental units, visual education units custom
designed to bring sight and sound equipment wherever needed, bookmobiles,
display sales promotion units, x-ray units, laboratories for field research and testing, CARE health units,
rural health units, labor and industrial health information units and public and missionary
health clinics, as well as special purpose units such as blood banks, industrial darkrooms,
art galleries, refrigerated vans and travel homes.
Design and application of each mobile clinic is the result of years of
specialized medical and engineering experience. Each unit is built to give
efficient service at a moderate cost.
"We bring skilled personnel and service directly to the people," says Ian
Smith. "We provide the means whereby these needed facilities can be brought
everywhere, including some of the most remote spots on earth."
Medical Coaches has provided units for a number of humanitarian projects,
including one sponsored by the Alliance for Progress. This unit consists of a fully
equipped modem mobile kitchen, presented to the people of Peru to be used in
"Operation Ninos," a child feeding program being carried out in Latin
America under the Food for Peace program. Not just a mobile soup kitchen,
this unit also serves as a teaching unit, in which trained Peruvian
nutritionists show needy natives how to feed their families more healthful
meals at little cost.
On the home front, State University of New York's Orange County Community
College uses a Medical Coaches 12 ½ ton, mobile education bus to bring
information and exhibits on OCCC vocational, credit and noncredit career courses to high schools
and communities in Orange County.
The State University at Binghamton operates a new self-contained
television studio-on-wheels which enables video taping and program
monitoring on campus and at remote locations.
Another interesting educational use for Medical Coaches was found by the
Great Neck (L.I.) School District, which is using a self-propelled, self-contained
30-foot mobile classroom designed for children who need supportive help.
Equipped with a language laboratory, small library, four blackboards,
screens and projectors, the unit brings the classroom to students — both
children and adults — who have transportation or other problems.
Medical Coaches do their bit for drug prevention in the State. The State
Narcotic Addiction Control Commission uses a mobile community education
center that travels to communities all over the State to help launch drug
abuse prevention programs.
The Oneonta firm provides CARE with mobile health units that travel the
world bringing medical services to isolated areas. Medical Coaches can be found in some
very important places — the John F. Kennedy Space Center, for instance,
where a unit called a Digital Control Trailer houses a million dollar
computer for measuring rocket engine thrust. Or the Naval Training Devices
Center in Orlando, Florida, where a Medical Coaches Mobile Electro-acoustic
Laboratory trailer makes field recordings in areas of sonar and electronic
countermeasures under simulated battle conditions.
Other users, in addition to those mentioned, include the U.S. Air Force;
the Department of Health, Education and Welfare; National Institutes of
Health; the New York State Mental Hygiene Department; the Bureau of Mines; the Office of Economic
Opportunity; the Department of Defense, and many more.
Satisfied customers are the key to Medical Coaches' success. The "Made in
Oneonta" label on a Medical Coach means a quality product constructed with
individual care to customer specification and possessing the unique
characteristic of being able to bring those two very important products —
health and education — directly to the people.
1-29-1972 Oneonta Star:
Medical Coaches, Inc.
More orders mean need for space
"In 1971, Medical Coaches enjoyed its biggest sales year," said Ian
Smith, President. "The volume of orders on hand and the business apparent in the
foreseeable future have made it necessary for us to expand our present fabrication facilities so
that both our sales volume and work force could be increased."
Starting February 1, 1972, our new 160 ft. long by 100 ft. wide
Fabrication Plant No. 2 will be in full production. This new facility
permits us to run five or six production lines, each 150 ft. in length.
Hence, we are in the position of handling volume business in this modern
During 1971, we continued to build a variety of very specialized coach
and trailer vehicles. These included a fleet of 23 mobile Medical and Dental
clinics for President Luis Echeverria Alvarez of Mexico. The President had
pledged that, if elected, he would provide essential health services in the
11 desert states of Mexico for those people in remote areas who were denied
the benefits of medical or dental care. Dr. Fermin Reygadas, Chief Dental
Officer of the Mexican Ministry of Health, who is in charge of these 23 units,
has stated that they will operate 12 months of
the year and will be staffed by medical and dental students completing their
internship in public service.
Another interesting market has developed in providing multiphasic health
screening vehicles for employees at their place of work. Doctors in industry and
government have long thought illness could be substantially reduced by the
easy detection of disease through periodic examinations.
For many Americans this day has come in the form of multiphasic health
screening — a term which covers the administration of a battery of medical tests by
paraprofessionals where patients pass from one test station to the next until all tests
have been completed.
The concept of periodic health examinations is gaining a wide acceptance
in the industrial community through use of mobile screening centers which
brings trained professionals with sophisticated equipment and facilities
directly to plant sites.
Employees entering a climate controlled, attractively furnished trailer
every 5 minutes receive such tests as visual acuity, tonometry for glaucoma,
blood pressure, spirometry, chest x-ray, hearing, ECO, blood chemistry. For women, a Pap smear is
included. Clinical laboratory determinations are made in hematology and
chemistry, e.g., serum, albumin, total protein, cholesterol, hemoglobin,
uric acid, red and white cell counts, glucose and urinalysis.
Health test results are sent to the employee's personal physician with
letters explaining the importance of their role in the company's preventive
maintenance program. It is the employee's physician who diagnoses any
illness. The testing program provides him with the results of the tests. In
New York State and Puerto Rico, Medicoach bus units are being used by
concerned administrators to extend effective education and counseling
programs to schools, colleges, cities and rural areas to combat narcotics
In Puerto Rico, the Department of Social Services initialed a program to
provide essential services for family planning, narcotics education, and nutrition
demonstration. Medical Coaches built a series of mobile units which can extend these services to
cities, towns and villages throughout the island.
The International Trail v.27-29, 1957-59
1965- Medical Coaches, Inc., Oneonta, NY will produce 60 customized
vehicles (at prices between $6500 and $30000) this year for use in 80 nations as
traveling medical and dental clinics, laboratories, and especially for
remedial reading, science classes, even gymnastics. “Mobile education units
are developing into a real industry,” says Ian M. Smith.
1984 AP News story – Hoegh-Ugland Ships Ambulances to Saudi Arabia
Hoegh-Ugland Auto Liners made a special call at the Port of Albany
recently to load 50 ambulances designed for Saudi Arabia. The ambulances,
manufactured by Medical Coaches Inc., Oneonta, New York were drive the 870
miles to Albany. The shipment was the first of two, totaling 110.
Dan Harvey - Who’s Driving? Radiology Today Vol. 8 No. 18
Typically, mobile unit manufacturers—such as Calutech, Medical Coaches
Inc., Genesis Medical Imaging Inc., and Oshkosh Specialty Vehicles—are
certified to work with two or more radiology equipment manufacturers.
Companies from the two factions aren’t inextricably tied together in an
“We have done a great deal of work with Siemens since the 1980s,” says
Geoffrey Smith, president of Oneonta, N.Y.-based Medical Coaches. “Looking
at sheer volume, we’ve done more with Siemens than with any other vendor.
But that doesn’t mean that we can’t or won’t work with GE. In fact, we do
quite a bit of PET/CT work with GE.”
“We have a new, dedicated mobile PET/CT, and we decided to partner with
Medical Coaches in developing the scanner,” says Barry Scott, Siemens’
marketing manager for PET/CT. “We’ve always worked with other companies and,
in the future, we’ll work with them again. However, at this point, we
decided to pick one company and work with them exclusively to provide our
customers with the best quality possible. This way, we can put the new
PET/CT system through the many hours of rigorous testing to get it
Medical Coaches, for instance, is a family-owned business with more than
50 years of experience. Founded in 1949, the company initially provided the
Cuban government with 40 medical coaches, specifically for tuberculosis
screening. Since then, the company has evolved into one of the larger
international mobile medical unit manufacturers. “In the mid-1970s, we built
the first mobile CT brain scanners,” says Smith, whose father, Ian Smith,
established the company. “Since then, we’ve kept our foot deep in the water
with high-tech radiologic technology.”
The company has manufactured more than 10,000 highly specialized mobile
units located in more than 100 countries, including PET/CT, MRI, PET, CT,
and cardiac catheterization labs.
In developing its mobile units, Medical Coaches first designs the units
using computer-aided design (CAD) stations and 3-D solid modeling. Following
that, the company constructs an actual unit in one to two months. Units are
built from the ground up with input from customers and radiology equipment
manufacturers. “We consult with both users and vendors to make sure our
products are friendly to both,” says Smith. “We spend a great deal of time
in advance consultation with equipment manufacturers, especially their
service people, asking them what is most difficult to service about the
The company constructs the unit framework with aluminum C-section wall
panels that are more durable and lightweight than typical trailer panels. To
increase flexibility and strength, the panels are bonded, not welded,
increasing resistance to outside forces such as rust and vibrations. This
framework is then filled with technology supplied from the equipment vendors
or the healthcare facility. Once this installation is accomplished,
equipment vendor representatives perform the follow-up steps, including
Barbara Kram - Medical Coaches Delivers Siemens MRI to North Carolina
Provider September 24, 2006 - dotmed.com
The idea for Medical Coaches' business began in the Australian bush
country in the 1930s where founder Ian Smith traveled with his dad, an
itinerant minister. Smith saw the dire need for medical attention on the
part of the indigenous people and dreamed of providing mobile medical
The Smith family emigrated to the U.S. in the 1940s and Ian was promptly
drafted into the Army. After World War II, he teamed with an old Army buddy
who had become a commercial attache to the Cuban government (Joseph
Sanchez). Sure enough, Cuban president Carlos Pro Socarrs had promised to
bring health care to the people and Ian was the man to do it. In 1949 he
designed, manufactured and delivered 36 mobile units for his first contract
It was the beginning of a company that has found numerous applications for
mobile medical equipment around the world. Medical Coaches has built units
for CARE and ambulances for service the Middle East. They crafted mobile
trailers for such diverse applications as drug-sniffing dogs and their
trainers in Pakistan and mobile communications units for NASA. Working with
a coach body manufacturer near its headquarters in Oneonta N.Y., Medical
Coaches has built 10,000 units, including approximately 400 mobiles with
medical imaging equipment.
A partnership with Siemens began in the 1980s when the OEM decided to take
imaging equipment on the road. Most recently Medical Coaches delivered the
first Siemens MAGNETOM Espree trailer to Metrolina Neurological Associates
serving North and South Carolina. Its the first time this type of MRI has
been put on a mobile unit, said Chad Smith, marketing director. (Chad is the
grandson of Ian Smith and the son of company President Geoffrey Smith.) The
new coach [with its large-bore MRI] requires a lot of special shielding and
weight requirements and has special humidification systems on board. Theres
a lot involved to make it certified to fixed-site standards.
In addition to delivering equipment to more than 110 countries, Medical
Coaches has found the U.S. market growing. There are a lot of reasons people
go mobile. First of all the rising healthcare costs. Its hard for one
hospital to afford a brand new $3 million system. With a mobile unit, two or
three hospitals can share, Smith said. The hospital may also have outlying
sites they want to service which wont [otherwise] be able to see that type
of technology or would require patients to drive hundreds of miles to access
this type of equipment.
Another benefit is speed to market since it can take years to retrofit a
hospital to accommodate a new MRI but the mobile can be delivered within
Laura Cox - Medical Coach Helps Citizens Of 110 Nations - Hometown
Oneonta and The Otsego-Delaware Dispatch, Nov 21, 2008
Anything could be happening in that unremarkable cluster of warehouses in
the midst of 94 acres of farmland southeast of Emmons.
Looks can be deceiving.
Medical Coaches, which earlier this month unveiled Bassett Healthcare’s
long-anticipated $1-million Mobile Cancer Screening Unit, is anything but
For the past 59 years, it has manufactured more than 400 “doctors’ offices
on wheels” – that’s how founder Ian M. Smith liked to think of them – to 110
countries around the world.
Presided over today by Geoffrey Smith, the founder’s son, the company is
making a life-saving difference in the availability of healthcare to rural
What became Medical Coaches began in a boy’s imagination decades ago, when
young Ian Smith would go along with his grandfather on visits to
parishioners in rural communities in Queensland, Australia, around
“He saw parishioners asking questions about medical conditions and he
kept thinking, ‘Why doesn’t a doctor put his office on wheels?’” Geoff Smith
remembers his father recalling.
In the mid 1930s, Ian Smith moved to the United States, became a citizen,
and when World War II came along, he was drafted. Fighting overseas, he
continued to share his dream of putting doctors’ offices on wheels with the
After the war, the OSS – the Office of Strategic Services, the Central
Intelligence Agency’s predecessor – called.
A fellow soldier, then an attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, had shared
Smith’s idea with Cuban President Carlos Socarrás, who had promised to
deliver healthcare to rural areas.
Smith visited Cuba, talked with government officials there, and returned
home with an order for 36 mobile health clinics. He located an Oneonta
company that built the kind of coaches he would need, and in 1949 founded
Medical Coaches in an old dress factory off Oneida Street.
In the beginning, many of the company’s units were aimed at combating
tuberculosis. Customers included CARE and UNICEF, as well as various
missionaries. Medical Coaches also specialized in ambulances, although it
has since shifted its emphasis elsewhere.
In the early 1970s, Iran was the company’s biggest customer. Today, many
of its customers are in the Middle East, South America and developing
Ian Smith passed away in 1976 at age 60. By then, son Geoff had been with
the company for four years. Six years ago, a third generation came into the
business: Chad Smith, Geoff Smith’s son, joined the company as marketing
Mobile Coaches is the preferred manufacturer for Seimens, an electronics
and electrical engineering developer in the healthcare sector, building
coaches for its mobile MRI medical equipment.
“It has been a great relationship for both of us,” said Geoff Smith.
Oneonta Daily Star on 6/14/2006
Friery Sr., James M. - James M. Friery Sr., died Tuesday, June 13, 2006,
at A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital in Oneonta after a long illness.
06/22/06 Oneonta Daily Star by Geoffrey A. Smith
Smith was `Father of Mobile Medical Units’
First, I would like to emphasize that I am not an insensitive person by
commenting on James Friery’s obituary. I’ve known the Friery family many
years and I offer my deepest condolences.
There are some glaring inaccuracies, inadvertent I’m sure, that need
clarification to honor the legacy of my dad, Ian Smith.
As a young Australian boy, my dad had a dream of putting "doctors’
offices on wheels." In 1949, after receiving his U.S. citizenship and
serving in World War II, my dad was awarded a $600,000 contract from the
Cuban government for a fleet of 30 mobile health coaches. This was the first
such order in the world, and Medical Coaches Inc. was born.
He located Linn Coach in Oneonta and contracted it to build the mobile
units he designed. In 1953, Jim Friery and Frank Humphries resurrected the
bankrupt Linn Coach as Lyn Coach. Medical Coaches continued to provide them
with orders to build mobile medical units, according to Ian Smith’s designs.
The Smith family moved to Oneonta, and Medical Coaches operated from 16
Dietz St. (now Getman Law Office).
Medical Coaches and Lyn Coach parted ways in 1957. Medical Coaches began
manufacturing its own mobile medical units on Country Club Road (currently
Colonial Plumbing and ARC).
Medical Coaches relocated to its 100,000-square-foot Hemlock Road factory
Ian Smith is universally recognized as the "Father of Mobile Medical
Units" and the company he started with a dream is recognized as the pioneer
and the current leader in the mobile medical industry.
None of these facts is meant to denigrate James Friery. Without his
initial confidence in my dad, the Smith family would never have chosen
Oneonta, a place that enriches my life every day.
Michael Friery, Oneonta 6/29/06
Medical units predated Smith
I would like to thank Geoff Smith for extending condolences to my family
in his recent letter. I appreciate his offer to correct "discrepancies" that
may have appeared in my father’s obituary. However, I disagree with certain
points Geoff raises in his kind letter.
Linn Coach & Truck manufactured mobile medical units before 1949. Arthur
Perkins, Linn’s president, included them in his line of vehicles. During
World Ward II, Linn manufactured the G731 mobile Army medical unit. Soldiers
like Ian Smith and Jim Friery must have seen them everywhere. When Geoff’s
father came to Oneonta, Linn had long been manufacturing and designing
medical units in their extensive engineering facilities.
Ian Smith was a sales agent sourcing a product for a customer. He knew
that product was available at Linn in Oneonta. My father, Linn’s
comptroller, acquired the assets in 1953 and reopened as Lyn Coach. Linn’s
Frank Humphries, became vice president and continued to design vehicles.
Medical Coaches didn’t have design capabilities in those days, nor did it
have a production line until 1976. While Lyn/Linn was supplying thousands of
medical vehicles, Medical Coaches was building one or two copies at a time
in what was essentially a craft shop. The orders that Smith brought to
Linn/Lyn up to 1957 were a small part of its medical business. The designs
were drawn by Linn/Lyn engineering staff and not by customers. I don’t know
who the "father of mobile medical units" was. It certainly was neither
Friery, nor Smith. The idea is as old as the custom coach industry. I’m sure
that medical institutions were ordering bus conversions early on. However,
Linn, under Perkins, was probably the first to mass-produce them from
standard blueprints. The honor of "father" should go to Frank Humphries, who
was likely responsible for the original designs.
Medicoach Sales Brochure circa 2008
It all started in 1949 when Mr. Ian Smith had an opportunity to provide
the Government of Cuba with 36 multi-phasic health clinics, thereby paving
the way for what would become one of the largest specialized mobile medical
unit manufacturers in the world.
1949: The photograph above shows the first order with the Government of
Cuba for 36 multi-phasic health clinics. This was the first large
multiple-mobile-medical-unit order of its kind.
This photograph shows a parade of Medical Coaches first order of 36
multi-phasic clinics through the streets of Havana in 1949.
1950: Delivery of a mobile health screening clinic to the Republic of
1950's: Mobile Public Telephone, self-propelled, bus
There is an increasing demand for "mobile health care" in domestic and
1960: Care mobile health clinic delivered to the people of India
1961: Founder, Ian M. Smith inspects CARE Mobile Medical Clinic for
Mobile X-Ray Clinic being loaded on a ship, headed for Panama, donated by
the Department of Wartime Veterans and the people of Canada, through the
One of the very first towable, mobile dental, semi-trailers, for the
Dept. of the Navy back in the early 60's.
Chest X-Ray survey mobile trailer, for the State of Nebraska Department
of Health, used to screen for Tuberculosis.
Movie star, Joan Crawford, visits a Medical Coaches mobile health clinic
back in 1962.
1972 Mobile Sports Trailer fully equipped with locker rooms and showers
to help support local athletics while their new gymnasium was constructed.
1973 Mobile Heath Clinic used to support rural communities around certain
parts of the country.
1974 One of the many mobile blood laboratories built by Medical Coaches
back in the early 70's. This coach served in the Rochester, NY area for many
Emergence of mobile mammography as a breast-examination tool to find and
treat cancerous tumors at early, curable stages.
Introduction of mobile chest X-rays to view patients lungs and to
determine a host of respiratory diseases, including tuberculosis and cancer.
1975: This mobile clinic was a NASA project with Lockheed as a prime
contractor. Their goal was to replicate conditions on the first Space
Shuttle should an astronaut have a medical issue. They designed this unit
with the first full medical telemetry system allowing physicians in Phoenix
Arizona to receive data from Native Americans screened by tribal physicians
and health professionals through a roof mounted microwave transmitter.
The mobile unit included a full exam room with x-ray, diagnostic
equipment, developing room and full working lab. Transmissions could include
x-rays, microscope images, lab data, full-video and voice transmission.
According to NASA, the success of this program conducted on the Papago
Indian Reservation in Arizona was critical in NASA's confidence that
astronauts could be provided state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment while
on their missions.
As a part of the design phase, Medical Coaches and Lockheed, engineers
and medical personnel met over 50 times to discuss all phases of design and
program implementation. A full working wooden prototype was built in the
Lockheed facilities prior to release of Medical Coaches bill of documents.
This was probably the first mobile unit ever to be designed using modern CAD
technology only available to NASA in the 1970's.
Medical Coaches was very proud and honored to be selected as a vendor on
this very important project after Lockheed interviewed over 50 separate
vendors. Every employee of Medical Coaches was and still is proud of their
contribution to the United States manned space program.
After Ian M. Smith's death in 1976, his son, Geoffrey Smith, took the
helm as Company President
1977: The mobile unit pictured above was built in 1977 and was the
world's first mobile CT scanner used for head scans.
Summary of 1970-1979 Introduction of mobile computed tomography (CT) as
an advance in X-ray technology that produces cross-sectional, multiangled
images of the body's soft tissue, especially the brain and heart.
Mobile Communications trailers for N.A.S.A used to monitor the takeoff
and landing of the space shuttle
Introduction of mobile ultrasound to perform risk-free diagnostic tests
on pregnant women and to examine the heart, breasts, liver, and gallbladder.
One of the very first mobile MRI's being displayed at the R.S.N.A
(Radiological Society of North America) in 1985 by Siemens Medical Systems
and Medical Coaches.
1985: Medical Coaches partners up with Siemens Medical Systems to build
one of the first Mobile MRI units. Since that date we have built over 300
mobile MRI semi-trailers.
Introduction of mobile magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as a
revolutionary advance in imaging technology that produces multi-dimensional
visual images of internal body parts in any plane to diagnose abnormalities
of bone, joint, and soft tissue - as well as injuries or tumors located in
the chest, abdomen, pelvis, brain and spinal cord; without the risk of
harmful exposure to radiation.
Twin mobile battle simulator trailers built for the U.S. Navy to help
train soilders throughout the country.
Medical Coaches produced thousands of ambulances for the middle east,
Africa, and the far east. This particular order is for Aljomaih in Jeddah.
Medical Coaches have produced mobile units for over 110 countries and all
50 states. This particular blood donation unit went to Hong Kong and served
Medical built this for Goddard Space center outside of Washington, DC.
It was used for satellite and space shuttle tracking. It was our first large
expandable sided trailer.
Medical Coaches pioneered the introduction of the newest modality for
removing kidney stones; Lithotripsy. Equipment manufacturers (primarily
Siemens and the now defunct Dornier) used electronically generated shock and
sound waves to break up kidney stones that would normally require surgery.
This technique revolutionized this medical procedure saving time, painful
surgery and money. Mobile units were used extensively to bring treatment to
hospitals and Urological Centers without enough patients to justify in-house
units. The mobiles were in both trailer and self propelled modes and served
virtually every state in the union. The advent of smaller and less
expensive lithotripsy devices have reduced the mobile market dramatically as
most hospitals now perform the procedure in-house.
Introduction of mobile lithotripsy as a non-invasive technique to remove
1991: Medical Coaches was the first company in the world to introduce the
Mobile P.E.T Imaging System in conjunction with Miller Medical Systems and
Introduction of mobile positron emission tomography (PET) to view organs
and their functions, to study focal seizure disorders, to evaluate brain
tumors, dementia, and myocardial viability, and to detect coronary artery
Introduction of mobile single positron emission computed tomography
(SPECT) to trace blood flow and to diagnose a patient's metabolism,
especially heart function.
Introduction of mobile "infectious waste disposal units" for on-site
Introduction of truck-mounted x-ray inspection equipment to scan cars,
vans, trucks and trailers for illegal drugs, explosives and immigrants.
April 15, 2003 - CTI Molecular Imaging, Inc.(Nasdaq: CTMI) and Medical
Coaches, Inc., a privately held firm based in Oneonta, NY, announced today
they have completed the manufacture and sale of the industry's first ever
mobile PET/CT unit, which utilizes CTI's REVEAL ® RT PET/CT scanner.
Introduction of the first-of-it's-kind, mobile ready, PET/CT,
semi-trailer. This mobile scanner is a major health care advance that allows
medical specialists to see both the structure and molecular activity of
various diseases and health disorders.
June 2007 Medical Coaches introduces the first ever mobile ready High
Definition mobile PET/CT trailer with Siemens TruePoint technology thus
allowing a much sharper P.E.T image and allowing clinicians to get a more
Introduction of the mobile High-Definition Television Trailer for various
sporting events such as the 2008 Olympics in Beijng.
Introduction of the world's only Mobile Linear Accelerator trailer at the
Society of Nuclear Medicine in Philadelphia, PA in June of 2004, The Linear
Accelerator system is a reliable, low-cost solution to the growing need for
positron emitting isotopes and tracers, particularly for the fluorine-18
used to produce FDG.
Due to the increase of homeland security in the United States, Medical
Coaches partnered up with Smiths Heimann to build mobile Baggage Screening
Vans to be used at various ports of entry and airports.
September 2008, in partnership with Xoft Inc., introduced the world's
first mobile brachytherapy mobile van, called the Axxent Xpress, which
delivers non-radioactive, X-ray-based radiation treatment directly to cancer
sites with minimal exposure to surrounding healthy tissue
From that beginning, Medical Coaches went on to build more than 20,000
custom-designed special-purpose mobile service units for over 110 countries
and all 50 United States. After Mr. Smith's death in 1976, his son, Geoffrey
Smith, took the helm as Company President.
This privately held company continues to operate under the basic pledges
Ian Smith made to his employees and customers many years ago, "to build
products that we would be proud to own ourselves" and "to treat our
customers and coworkers as family." He insisted that Medical Coaches' word
was always its bond. Medical Coaches' traditions and core beliefs continue
to be their cornerstones today.
As each of the following medical advances were in the research and
development stage, Medical Coaches was closely aligned with developers and
manufacturers to introduce them to the world in mobile form. Many of the
initial concepts of using mobile only as a platform for prototype
development expanded to become significant percentages of equipment sold
(e.g., CT, MRI, mammography).
Kristina Martino, Central New York Business Journal, Jul 10, 2008
Medical Coaches reopens door to Middle East
ONEONTA - Medical Coaches, Inc. stopped selling its mobile medical
equipment to the Middle East market in 1973 when the region cut off oil
exports to nations, including the United States, which supported Israel in
its conflict with Syria and Egypt.
But after experiencing flat domestic sales for several years, the
59-year-old Oneonta-based mobile-product manufacturer is preparing to reopen
the door to the Middle East to generate sales that once accounted for 40
percent of its revenue. Medical Coaches makes mobile facilities such as
mobile medical offices and television stations for health care, high-tech
equipment, environmental, industrial, governmental, and nonprofit markets.
"We were heavily concentrated in the Middle East during the '70s," says
Geoffrey A. Smith, president and owner of a controlling interest in the
Medical Coaches-once generated sales in countries including Saudi Arabia
"Iran used to generate one-third of our business," Smith says. "Then we
lost one-third of business in the snap of a finger. We lost a lot of
business in the Middle East from the oil crisis."
During the 1980s and 1990s, Medical Coaches decided to counter those lost
sales by focusing on domestic sales.
Whereas in the 1970s, when the company exported 85 percent to 90 percent
of its goods, during the 1980s and 1990s domestic sales generated 90 percent
of revenue, Smith says.
"During that time period, our international business became less
important and our domestic business became our primary focus," Smith says.
In 1984, the company formed a joint venture with Siemens Medical
Solutions USA, Inc., based in Pennsylvania, to manufacture its mobile MRI
(magnetic resonance imaging) units. The agreement still exists today, Smith
But the 2005 federal authorization of the Deficit Reduction Act altered
Medical Coaches' domestic business plan with the medical industry - one of
its largest sources of clients. The 95-employee manufacturer now looks to
generate sales in the Middle Eastern market. The Deficit Reduction Act saves
federal dollars by slowing Medicare and Medicaid spending, which has trimmed
medical reimbursements for procedures on machines that Medical Coaches
"This [Act] has had an impact on reimbursement for procedures on mobile
units - mainly MRI and PET/CT [Positron Emission Tomography Units]," Smith
says. "We have seen a downturn in those."
A PET/CT is a scanner that detects cancer at an early stage, Smith
describes. Each scanner costs about $2 million.
Medical Coaches generates about $25 million in annual revenue, but sales
have lagged since the changes in federal law.
"It has been a bit flat over the past three years with the changes in
reimbursement. This has slowed our primary source of income down," Smith
says, declining to disclose more details on sales.
As the company works to balance its domestic and international sales, it
has focused its domestic sales on non-MRI and PET/CT units, such as mobile
mammography units and highly technical television units.
Smith says that currently about 30 percent of the company's sales are
exports and 70 percent of revenue is generated domestically. He expects that
percentage to balance out with the company's active marketing in the Middle
East and from a large sale generated from the Venezuelan Army that he
couldn't describe in detail.
In the international market, a majority of Medical Coaches' clients
include governmental entities. In the United States, some clients include
Siemens, Lockheed Martin, and entrepreneurial firms that lease units to
The company also manufactures mobile units for the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security, medical-waste processing units, mobile dental clinics,
mobile bookmobiles, and mobile labs.
Medical Coaches operates facilities in Oneonta and in Albany, Ore. The
company owns its 100,000-square-foot facility at 399 County Highway 58 in
Oneonta, which employs 85. Its Medical Coaches West, Inc. division in Oregon
leases its space and employs 10.
The company name, Medical Coaches, resulted from the company's first sale
in 1949 to the Cuban government, which purchased 40 medical coaches (buses).
2008 BOTW PROFILE
Geoffrey A. Smith, President, Medical Coaches, Inc.
* Education: Bachelor's degree from Lehigh University
* Residence: West Oneonta
* Family: Wife, son (Chad Smith, marketing director for Medical Coaches,
* Year became president: 1976
Medical Coaches, Inc., 399 County Highway 58, P.O. Box 129, Oneonta, N.Y.
13820 Phone: (607) 432-1333
Fax: (607) 432-8190
* Type of business: Mobile-product manufacturer for medical, high-tech
equipment, environmental, industrial, governmental, and nonprofit markets
* Year founded: 1949
* Employees: 85 in Oneonta; 10 in Albany, Ore.
* Headquarters square footage: 100,000
* Company officers: Geoffrey A. Smith, president; Leonard Marsh,
executive vice president; Al Collins, vice president of sales; Richard
Mattice, vice president of engineering; Chad Smith, marketing director
* Annual revenue: About $25 million
Medical Coaches brochure, circa 2008
Medical Coaches is a designer and manufacturer of special-purpose mobile
medical and general-purpose units for military and civilian applications.
Since 1949, Medical Coaches has designed and built a wide range of
special-purpose mobile units for military and government customers
throughout the world. Our vast experience, high level of engineering
competence, modern facilities on both East (New York) and West (Oregon) USA
coasts, and contemporary construction techniques make Medical Coaches the
manufacturer of choice for complex mobile medical systems. In addition,
Medical Coaches is ISO 9001 certified and CE certified, and units shipped to
Europe receive TUV certification.
MOBILE UNITS (TRAILERS, CONTAINERS AND SELF-PROPELLED)
Typical mobile units (trailers, containers and self-propelled) built by
Medical Coaches include:
Mobile hospitals – single and multiple units
Mobile emergency disaster and surgical / trauma
Mobile health exam and X-ray
Mobile blood collection and labs
Mobile Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and lithotripsy
Electronics and computer instrumentation trailers
Mobile training and classroom units
Mobile car / truck X-ray inspection systems
Medical Coaches' customers buy from us time and time again because they
know our mobile units work the first time and for many years to come; they
know we use state-of-the-art design and production techniques; they know our
unequalled experience prevents costly mistakes and embarrassing delays; they
know our prices are fair and competitive; they know we provide technical and
service support for our products; and, most importantly, they know Medical
Coaches is a good company to do business with.
MEDICAL COACHES IS AN EXPORT SPECIALIST
Our mobile units are on every continent and have been delivered to over
107 countries. Customers include kings, presidents, military organizations,
the United Nations and some of the world's largest corporations (Siemens,
General Motors, General Electric, Philips, Pratt & Whitney, Mitsui, etc.).
Medical Coaches understands the unique needs of our overseas customers.
We don't try to push standard US products that may be inappropriate for our
export customers. We consider local road laws, electrical requirements,
service issues, climate and terrain, to name a few.
Many of our customers purchase our products without visiting our factory.
They trust in our reputation and past experience. They know that a handshake
means something at Medical Coaches.
MODERN FACILITIES ON BOTH COASTS OF THE USA
Medical Coaches' main office and facilities in Oneonta, New York, are
located in a modern 100,000ft². building complex located on 100 acres. All
phases of production – including aluminum body construction, insulation,
plumbing, electrical wiring, painting, cabinetry, and complex equipment
installation – are carried out on site. Medical Coaches' west coast facility
in Albany, Oregon, also contains 100,000ft² of floor space and can perform
duplicate production procedures.
One of the hallmarks of Medical Coaches' long-term success has always
been our talented and experienced engineering department. Poorly engineered
designs, costly 'learning curve' mistakes and failure to properly interpret
customer requirements can spell disaster for a mobile program. This cannot
happen at Medical Coaches.
Medical Coaches' half a century of engineering experience is combined
with the most-sophisticated computer engineering available to our industry.
Pro/Engineer and CadKey software allow our engineers to develop solid 3-D
models, perform stress and load analysis, and confirm fit and function
before the first piece of metal is cut. Our detailed pre-engineering
streamlines the production process and eliminates many of the pitfalls
associated with 'half-engineered' mobile units.
MILITARY MOBILE UNIT EXPERIENCE
Medical Coaches has built for all US military departments along with
hundreds of overseas military customers. Mobile units range from simple
first aid to complex mobile hospitals and instrumentation vans. We
understand the special requirements of our military customers.
Mobile surgical hospital / first aid and patient ward trailers for the
Venezuelan Army; fully self-contained systems allow rapid deployment for
military action and natural disasters.
Mobile dental clinic: one of a fleet of five two-chair mobile dental
clinics utilized by the US Navy, fully self-contained with its own chassis,
generator and air conditioning.
Mobile surgical unit: interior of self-propelled battlefield mobile
surgical clinics; fully independent of outside support, the unit provides
sophisticated trauma and surgical care.
Mobile PET, PET / CT and MRI, provide the most advanced diagnostic
screening equipment in a mobile environment; Medical Coaches – certified by
Siemens, Philips, GE and CTI – provides state-of-the-art all-aluminum
Mobile laboratories: this fleet of mobile labs provide field monitoring
and evaluation of nuclear, biological and chemical agents; sophisticated
on-board lab equipment provides rapid identification, and all units are
© 2004 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com