Episode 34

Changing Lives with Portable and Accessible Housing with RJ Adler

Our guest RJ Adler is Director of Growth and Business Development at WheelPad Inc., a Vermont company creating accessible housing for people with disabilities. When needs change due to disability, illness, or other circumstances, well-made portable housing can improve quality of life and retain some independence. WheelPad’s units connect to existing homes and utilities for streamlined installation and removal. WheelPad will even repurchase a unit once the owner finishes with it, continuing the cycle of housing solutions for all.

 

If you or someone you know is searching for a universal living space, visit wheelpad.com or reach out to RJ at rj@wheelpad.com

Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Accessible Housing Matters with Stephen Beard

The Definitive Guide to ADU Development

Episode 7 with Rosemarie Rossetti


Episodes are sponsored and produced by Isaiah industries, a manufacturer of specialty metal roofing systems and other building materials. Learn more at isaiahindustries.com



This podcast uses the following third-party services for analysis:

Podtrac - https://analytics.podtrac.com/privacy-policy-gdrp
Chartable - https://chartable.com/privacy
Transcript

RJ Adler:

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I might be fudging the numbers a little bit, but really what it is, is there's just been this vast increase in one and two-personhouseholds in the last 60 years. So basically the way that we're living is different, but the way that we're building is the same. So building smaller spaces that two people would be happy living in is one of the solutions to the problem.

Seth Heckaman:

:

Welcome to the Construction Disruption podcast, where we uncover the future of building and remodeling. I'm Seth Heckaman of Isaiah Industries, a manufacturer of specialty metal roofing and other building materials. And today, my co-host is Ryan Bell. Our goal here at Construction Disruption is to provide timely and forward-lookinginformation regarding the construction world. As part of that, we look at new innovations as well as trends in practices, building materials, the labor market, and leadership. If it's something that we believe will impact the future of building and remodeling, we go out and find a leading expert on that topic and invite them to the show as our spotlighted guest. Today, that guest is RJ Adler, the director of growth at WheelPad. Based in Vermont, WheelPad's goal is to make life easier for those who are faced with injury, disability, or chronic health problems. They offer personal, accessible dwellings for living and healing at home. When life brings challenges with mobility, WheelPad solutions avoid months of waiting for renovations to existing homes by offering home attachments as well as backyard tiny houses that can instantly make any property safe and universally accessible. RJ, welcome to Construction Disruption, and thanks so much for taking the time today.

RJ Adler:

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Thanks so much for having me.

Seth Heckaman:

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So here in just a moment, we want to ask you about the back story of WheelPad, and how it all came to be. But first, can you give us an overview of what you folks offer and also what the process is for someone to buy or lease one of your units?

RJ Adler:

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Yeah, I'd say you gave a pretty fantastic overview right there. But the basic idea is that we are another option when it comes to home accessibility or another option when it comes to universal design or helping folks live in the way that they want to in the place that they want to. So that is our bread and butter products are, you know, small home attachments that we build on wheels, 200 square feet of universally accessible space. A bedroom and a bathroom where if you want to age in place, if you need to recover at home after an accident, if you need to add on some space quickly so you can move your mom or dad in with you instead of moving them into a nursing home. If you just need to add some more space for a growing and changing family, you know, WheelPad can deliver and install a 200-square-footbedroom and bathroom in much less time than it would take you to do a renovation on site. So it's you know, I'd say your description was way more eloquent than mine this morning.

Seth Heckaman:

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Well, yeah, I had the benefit of pre-planning it out rather than being put on the spot. You know, yours was great, too, but such a beautiful concept. Anxious to learn more, can't imagine that in those quick transitions, often unexpected transitions, not having to deal with the emotions and stress of also having to change living arrangements in the process. We had one previous guest on the show, Rosemarie Rossetti, who was in a tragic bike accident and ended up going home to a house she realized was not equipped for life in a wheelchair. But she loved the house. So the extra toll that puts on someone in such a stressful time, I'm sure, is if we can alleviate that, it makes a huge difference.

RJ Adler:

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Yeah, Rosemary's Universal Design Living Lab is really fantastic and she's actually who introduced me to Isaiah Industries and this Construction Disruption podcast. She's the Ben Cohen or Jerry Greenfield of the universal design industry. For the folks that aren't in Vermont, too, that's Ben and Jerry's.

Seth Heckaman:

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So such a neat program she has over there with the Universal Design Lab in Columbus. Encourage anyone to look it up and take note of the beautiful Oxford shingle metal roof that's installed on top of that that we're very proud of. But so thank you for that overview. Now let's dive in. Tell us the story of how this came to be. Who's brainchild was WheelPad and how did it all come together?

RJ Adler:

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Yeah. So WheelPad was born out of necessity and the short, long story is Riley Poor was in a traumatic accident in 2015 that resulted in quadriplegia. At the time, he was about to head out to Portland, Oregon to start a new job, and he thought, okay, I'm just going to find myself an accessible apartment. No big deal. I'm going to live my life and go on. Well, it turns out finding an accessible apartment was a big deal. He couldn't find one. So he spent nine months searching for one while living in a hotel. Then he decided, I can't find it. I'm just going to buy a house and renovate it to suit my needs. And he reached out to his godparents, Julie Lineberger, and Joseph Cincotta. And at the time, they had been running LineSync architecture for 25 years down in Wilmington, Vermont, which is in the southern part of the state. And they went through this design process to design Riley's house in a way that he was going to be able to live in it. Within that, that was another nine months Riley had to stay in the hotel, and then he finally got to move into his own space. Within that timeframe, there was this discussion of, Gosh, what if there had just been this box that you could have attached to your house or attached to your mom's house or attached to a rental that would have had all of the bits and pieces that you needed in order to independently live your own life. Well, gee, that would have been a great thing to have. Well, gee, what a great idea. And then, you know, that's where WheelPad was born. And from there, we are currently looking to build our own manufacturing because we've sort of worked with great construction partners and contract manufacturers to help us build the product, and build the brand. And now we're taking off our training wheels.

Seth Heckaman:

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Fantastic. Thanks for sharing that story. So the customers you're working with currently, is it most often a, you know, a transition solution or a permanent solution do you find? What's the mix there?

RJ Adler:

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It's really up to the customer. I, as much as possible, don't want to prescribe my product or prescribe anything. So, you know, we try to be as flexible as possible. WheelPad can come on wheels and it can stay on wheels for folks that only need it for a short period of time. Say, if they recovering at home after an accident that they expect to make a full recovery. They're not going to need it forever. They can lease it from us. Or maybe it's a diagnosis of a certain disease like ALS, where, you know, it's a temporary need, but you don't know what temporary means.

Seth Heckaman:

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Sure.

RJ Adler:

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WheelPad's happy to buy a WheelPad back from that customer if they decide to buy it, install it, and maybe ten years later, they don't need it anymore. Well, we're going to be paying to build the next WheelPad anyways, so why not, you know, pay our customers back, refurbish that, be able to put that back out into the world serving another family?. It's really up to the customer in that way. We can also put it on a permanent foundation type, being a foundation or full foundation to make it just part of a house. Not to give a non-answer, but it's really up to the customer and the way that they decide to use it. We've had customers that have gone in both directions.

Seth Heckaman:

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You know, when I was reading about WheelPad ahead of our conversation, you know, top of mind or the kind of the reference I was thinking of with your services was someone who went through, you know, a health crisis or challenge that resulted in this accessible living need. But in your introduction, you listed a whole lot of other scenarios that you're finding. People are, you know, finding a use for this type of unit. So bringing a parent in or just living in space. So you're finding that all across the board, there's multiple, multiple scenarios that people are finding a need for this type of solution.

RJ Adler:

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For sure, especially if you look at WheelPad as a part of the accessory dwelling unit industry. So for listeners that are new to the construction industry, right, this is a newer part of the construction industry where the modular unit that can be delivered to a backyard and installed has its own kitchen facility, sleeping facility, bathroom facility, that is just flexible space that can be used for a whole number of different things. And so whether a family, again, is looking to house a parent, maybe they have a child that uses a wheelchair and they're getting a little bit too big. They want their own space. They want their own room. This is a way to get that without having to make all the decisions that come with designing something specific. Or, you know, without especially if you live in the North like we do without having to have your backyard be torn up as a construction site for the four days of summer that we're lucky enough to have. So, you know, focusing, you know, focusing on that time element. There are a lot of benefits that come with modular construction. So there's yes, the quick, chief just got in the car accident and we need to and he needs to find a way home. But there's also the flexibility, and that's really what I like to focus on as I talk to people.

Ryan Bell:

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It sounds like it's pretty customizable as far as you guys being willing to work with the customers. Is there kind of a one-size platform that you build these on or are there different sizes available and options when it comes to that based on what their needs are?

RJ Adler:

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Yeah. So there's, you know, there's different sizes. Our smallest is 8 1/2 by 24 and then we also have a slightly larger model that is a little bit longer. It's 8 1/2 by 28 and that has enough space for a kitchen. So, you know, depending on what the customer needs are, there's certainly the ability to customize the interior. You know, it's really easy for us to switch which sides the doors are on where the window is, that kind of thing. It's a little bit more difficult to move the bathroom around because that's designed in a certain way. But we've had customers that have said, well, we're going to get the smaller pad, the smaller WheelPad, and added on to our house with a kitchen in that connector, or with a laundry room in that connector. So you kind of get the flexibility of building on-sitewith the predictability of modular construction, and that makes that dreaming process a little bit easier for the customer.

Seth Heckaman:

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So as that part of that process, are you engaging in the conversations with the local contractor that the customer has brought into the conversation? And what does that relationship look like?

RJ Adler:

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That's a really helpful relationship for us. So once we deliver a WheelPad, we kind of move into the role of architect and the local construction partner, that's the person that's on the ground, you know, making the connection to the house. If it's something that's going to be connected to the house or coordinating the connection to utilities if it's going to be in the backyard, that person also, presumably, if they've been a contractor in their community for a long time, they have a good relationship with the folks in the zoning and permitting offices so they can help us as well with getting that permit through if a permit is required. That's sort of one of the known unknowns about WheelPad, is what are towns going to think about it? Some towns like the wheels, some towns don't. So working with that local knowledge and that local connection helps us grease that project through. But also we're putting in a medical necessity for folks. So towns understand like this is to get Bob out of the nursing home. This is not to get an Airbnb up in the backyard. So we're telling a good story and that's really helpful. Of course, one day we're going to run into a town that doesn't want more housing built in it. I you know, I haven't run into one yet, but we work with those local construction partners because that way we have an on-the-groundtrusted resource that's able to put everything together.

Seth Heckaman:

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Yeah, and we've been brought in on a couple of conversations. Customers of our products wanting to use it on a tiny house and running into zoning and permitting issues because the town's looking at it like a permanently parked RV, which most neighborhoods aren't too excited about. But you all obviously have a much bigger story and conversation around what you're actually accomplishing. For folks that's got to help during that process.

RJ Adler:

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It certainly does help. I'd say what also helps is that towns are opening up their eyes to what tiny houses, and accessory dwelling units can do for the housing shortage. As those laws become more progressive, we're able to put these in more and more communities.

Seth Heckaman:

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You mentioned WheelPad getting set up for manufacturing, bringing this to scale. So what's the vision for that there in Vermont? Regional manufacturing? What's the plan right now?

RJ Adler:

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Planning right now in down in Wilmington is to start our manufacturing down there. Exactly how it's going to go, we're still working out those details. It may start with having our construction partner build the shell and then we finish it with our own WheelPad employees working with local construction partners in Wilmington, eventually getting to the point that we can do everything ourselves. But what's great is that we still have these contract manufacturing relationships with folks across the country. So if we do get a big order, we can reach out and say, Hey, can we get five? Because we're working with the Idaho Office of Refugee Resettlement or something like that, and they want a whole bunch of them.

Seth Heckaman:

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Very cool. Doing some research ahead of our time, watched a video on YouTube of one of these being built or maybe it was the prototype. But it was really neat seeing this, you know, all of your architects involved kind of bridging this gap between art and function so it doesn't look like a utilitarian hospital room on wheels. So tell us some of those neat design elements, both functionally and artistically, that go into a WheelPad structure.

RJ Adler:

:

Yeah. So folks can see some pictures of the interior on our website, to get a better understanding for those that are just listening. But Joseph is an architect first when it comes to the room, he wants to design the coolest room in the house. He doesn't just want to have this space where we're going to dump our family member, right. So making it feel like home is just as important as making it functional for the person that's going to be living in the space. So that means not having, you know, not having the drab gray that comes with so much, you know, so much mobility equipment. So the walls are an unfinished plaster, a skin coat of plaster, which gives it a feel like a home, not like an institutional setting. Hardwood ceiling, hardwood floors. There are those pieces. So that's sort of that sort of for the feel. And, you know, he's I've heard him say, like, when I first became an architect, I was all about function, not form. And very quickly, I realized that if people don't feel good in this space, it doesn't matter how well it functions. So, you know, the other benefit of that is these are all-naturalproducts that we're using, which is, you know, has a universal design function to it as well, because a lot of folks that have mobility challenges also have adverse reactions to certain toxins. So having a low toxicity environment is really important for them. So that's sort of a hidden universal design feature we have. You'll see if you look atinterior pictures on the website, there's some wainscoting on the walls and that's just plywood, right? But it's cut in a way that it looks good, it looks interesting. It fills the space in the right way. But also, new wheelchair users often bring up the walls because of, you know, they're learning how to get around again. And it's a whole lot easier to replace a piece of plywood than it is to replace a hole in the wall. When I used to tell that story, I would say a $20 piece of plywood. But then I can't say $20 piece of plywood anymore.

Seth Heckaman:

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$50 piece of plywood, unfortunately.

Ryan Bell:

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How do the heating and cooling and plumbing work? Does that all tie intothe current home in some way, or does it come with its own solution for that?

RJ Adler:

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Yes to both of those questions. So heating and cooling, we use a heat pump and that just uses 50 amps of electricity, which is the biggest electricity use that comes with the pad. So what we do with that, with the electricity and then the water and wastewater is hooked up to the host home and as much as possible, try to use the systems that are already on site. So if it's connected to a sewer, great, go through the basement, and connect to the sewer. If we have to, we can make a new connection to the road. But that's a pretty big project to undertake. With water and electricity and wastewater, these aren't proprietary technologies as to how to make the connections. It's something that a licensed plumber or a licensed electrician they're going to do in their sleep so that that heat pump is all installed, ready to go, just needs to be plugged in.

Seth Heckaman:

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You're obviously passionate about WheelPad's mission and business. So tell us a little bit about your story, how you came to be in your position there and what your role is.

RJ Adler:

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Yeah. So I got I started my career as a high school teacher and I loved teaching. And I was teaching in Wyoming at the time. I moved back to Vermont because my family was here and I also had a keen interest in green building and found my way to a solar company here in Vermont. So here I was selling a new technology and sort of building a market and was like, this is a lot like education. You know, I'm just talking to adults as opposed to talking to middle schoolers and high schoolers. I would treat them the same way. I just wouldn't tell them because my goal is to help folks understand the new products more so than to sell them a new product, right. If somebody calls me at WheelPad saying, you know, I'm looking for this solution. I want to help them find that solution whether or not WheelPad is a part of it, right. So I spent my time in the solar industry and I really liked it. I got a call from my boyhood summer camp. They were looking for some help in their development office. And I thought, oh, gosh, I can't turn this down. So I went to work waiting for a couple of years doing fundraising, very similar to sales. And then things got more serious with my wife. I was living about an hour and a half away from her. I kind of became a boring person because my only hobby was driving to go see her. And I eventually moved to central Vermont from where I was living in western Vermont and made that career switch. And as I was making that switch, I thought, okay, I'm going to start a company to help Vermonters build backyard accessory dwelling units. There is a housing need and there's people that need housing and there's people that have money for housing. They're willing to pay rent. So it's like and there's people that have backyards. So what's the connection here? And that was an industry that was growing more out West than out East. And as I was doing my research for that, I found WheelPad and very quickly realized that it's going to be a lot easier to start that with this team than it is to do it on my own. My coming to WheelPad was more from that side of things. And we're, we're just, just starting to roll out our first designs for what an accessory dwelling unit WheelPad is going to look like. They're not yet ready for prime time. We're still talking with manufacturers. But I'm looking forward to the day that someone says, huh? You know, that makes sense. Like, I'm gonna install one of these in my backyard and you know, for the next ten years, I'm going to use it as a rental for people in my community. But then, you know, at that point, like, maybe my kid is going to want to move back to back to Vermont, you know, and their family can live in in the main house. And I can live in the WheelPad and live on the family compound again. So it just goes back to that flexibility of space. And similar to the solar industry, I think the ADU industry is looking at the housing crisis and saying, how can we provide a market solution here? And that's, you know, the solar industry figured out an easy way for people to put solar on their house as a market solution to the energy crisis. And this is, again, looking at the housing crisis to say what's an easy way for people to build housing in their backyard? And following the same trend, banks are starting to open up loans specifically for accessory dwelling units. Towns and cities, as I was saying earlier, are opening up their permitting similar to accessory dwelling units. So you're seeing this similar track as to where the solar industry was ten, fifteen years ago. And it's a good roadmap in terms of how we can continue to solve problems in this way.

Seth Heckaman:

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Yeah, it's exciting to see it trending that way and having that clear example of a coming into maturity industry like solar too, that it's tracking with or modeling currently. So can you maybe I'm totally off base, but I feel like middle-classAmerica and this idea of a housing shortage may be thought about as a very urban type of problem of homelessness or, you know, gentrification, you know, high housing costs in Brooklyn type of problem. But you're talking about this in Vermont, not not the state that comes to mind for most. So can you educate me? Give us the quick elevator pitch on what this looks like in your backyard and then nationally, obviously something you're incredibly passionate about.

RJ Adler:

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I have spoken with people all across the country about housing because it's my job, right. And there's nobody that says, oh, yeah, we don't have a housing shortage here. Right, I mean, it's there aren't enough houses for the people that live in whatever place it is, be it the middle of a city or the middle of the country. I don't want to I don't want to think in the way that, you know, if a hammer is your only tool, every problem is going to be a nail. But I do think that housing comes into many conversations about economic development in small communities because people need to live places. So I think it's. What I love is the name of your podcast, Construction Disruption. ADUs are a disrupter industry to the way that we've been building houses for the last 60 years. There's a great thinker, a great industry leader named Cole Peterson, who would be great for this podcast to come in and talk about ADUs, I'm happy to make the introduction. He wrote a book called Backdoor Revolution. He also has a whole series of classes about how you can DIY your own backyard accessory dwelling unit. The second half of that book is all about how city planners, politicians, folks that are making decisions can make it easier for folks to do it at home. And in one of his classes, he shows aseries of graphs, the first one being, This is how we build in America. And two-thirdsof the places that we build are for families of three people or more. And that's how we lived in 1960, but it's not how we live now. He shows the next graph, which is that, you know, less than a third of the households in America are three or more person households. And in the last 60 years, there's been this real increase in the number of households that are just one or two people. So, you know, in a lot of ways, the housing shortage is just that, like, we've got this space, we just are filling it with not enough people. So certainly in Vermont, you're seeing a lot of old Victorian houses that are being split up into smaller apartments or backyard accessory dwelling units, that kind of thing. But you don't have to have a ton of space in order to do this. Cole lives in Portland and Portland is the birthplace of a lot of progressive zoning laws. But the real density that comes around ADUs is something that he's been a, I mean, I don't think WheelPad would be able to be in the place it is today without the work that Cole did industry-widefor towns and cities out West. Was that a good answer?

Seth Heckaman:

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No, yeah. Lots of great information there. So thank you and obviously would love the introduction to Cole. I'm going to pick up his book when we're done here. But it's sort of let me make sure that I understood. So, less than a third of households in America are composed of three people or more.

RJ Adler:

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That's yeah. I mean, it's I might be fudging the numbers a little bit, but really what it is, is there's just been this vast increase in one and two-personhouseholds in the last 60 years. So basically the way that we're living is different, but the way that we're building is the same. So building smaller spaces that, you know, two people would be happy living in is one of the solutions to the problem. And it's funny because I say this and, you know, right now my wife and I are kind of part of that problem. We bought a 200-year-oldfarmhouse and we're currently making a roommate, but it's not here yet. So, you know, we're soon to be in that third. And but we also have some extra space and are actively working on building an ADU you back there, you know, in the planning phases of building an ADU back there.

Seth Heckaman:

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Very cool. Yes, for those listening, by the time this is live, RJ and his wife will be the proud new parents of a baby. So very exciting. So making time for us in the weeks leading up to delivery. That is a big deal, so obviously you care about what we're talking about.

RJ Adler:

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Yeah, we'll also, you know, just sort of to pull the curtain back a little bit. On every meeting that I'm a part of, especially recordings, things like this. I've got Julie, who's the CEO of WheelPad. She's kind of on standby in case I got to jump. But fortunately, knock on wood, baby's not born super early, as in three and a half weeks early, which would be this morning.

Seth Heckaman:

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Good. Yeah, well, fantastic. We'll be praying for you guys in these next new adventure. But thank you for that background through RJ. A little bit of a curveballtaking the conversation there, but very interesting. And you know, bottom line, it's safe to say if we've been doing something the same way for 60 years, it probably has room for disruption and innovation. We need to be thinking outside of the 1800-square-foot, three-bedroomhouse kind of box that we've been stuck in for a long, long time. So exciting that WheelPad and others are leading us in that direction. So do you have any favorite stories? You shared Riley's story earlier, but other stories of customers across the country you've worked with through WheelPad that they've been able to accomplish their needs with your solution?

RJ Adler:

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Yeah, so good story. This was happening just around the time that I was joining the team. We built our original model with the cadets at Norwich University and one of the folks that called us at that time, his name's Ed Little, and he had he was a veteran with ALS and he thought this is a great product, but I'm looking for you know, I'm looking for something where I can put a queen-sizedbed in it as well. With our skinny models and we make them skinny so you can easily pull them behind a pickup truck. And there's really only space for a twin, maybe a double. So he said, Hey, could you make something a little wider? So out of that was born what we call XL Pad. So it's 12 feet wide, so it is an oversize load. It does need to be delivered by a professional. And since he was a veteran, that project was funded through the specially adapted housing grant through the VA. So through that process,WheelPad became a recognized builder with the VA and now we can help out folks all across the country who want to use that grant. Actually really exciting, we're starting our second stage project here shortly with a family in Long Island. But Ed said, I've got ALS and I can't use my legs anymore. But that doesn't mean that I don't want to sleep next to my wife any longer. So he got the XL Pad. We developed that new project for him. It looks awesome, we put on a great siding that matches their house. It's up in Jericho, Vermont, and unfortunately, Ed passed away a couple of years after. And then we reached out to in and we said to his widow. And we said, Anna, are you open to, do you still want your WheelPad? We can take it back, right? I mean, we can it can serve another family. And she said, Oh, no way, this is the coolest room in the house and this is where I feel closest to Ed. So I, I never want you to take this away. And now there's, you know, now there's a house in one more house in the world that's universally designed for, for the next person. So, you know, that's a cool story in a lot of ways. But I'd say my favorite is just that like, you know, where she feels closest to Ed.

Seth Heckaman:

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That's beautiful. So as director of growth for WheelPad, what are your strategies for spreading the word about what you're doing and connecting with potential customers?

RJ Adler:

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I mean, I'd say you're listening to it right now is certainly making connections with other folks in the industry. But as I said earlier, I view myself mostly as an educator and WheelPad has the fortunate problem right now having more people that want WheelPads than we have available. So we're actively working to build more and get them out the door. But there's sort of this larger conversation about universal design and accessory dwelling units that I get to have with everybody every day. So and again, like when a customer calls, it's more about finding a solution that works for them. It's less about finding it's less about making a sale. Right? I'm not interested in selling boxes. I'm interested in helping people sell solutions. And when people say, I don't think this is going to work, I say, cool. Well, when you if you when you finish that addition, send us pictures type of thing, you know, I'd say all the traditional methods of outreach we're working on, be it social media, website, blog, being parts, you know, being connected with other industry leaders. Every time that I run into a cool podcast like Construction Disruption, you know, I'm telling other folks about it because we're this is such an early industry, right? Like, like we are, you know, any time that somebody puts in an accessory dwelling units, any time that somebody builds a universally designed space that is going to support everybody that's doing anything in the industry. So it's a rising tide raises all ships. And, you know, we're going to be singing that song as much as we're, you know, singing our own, if not more.

Ryan Bell:

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I love what you say about, you know, you consider yourself an educator and not a salesman. And I can't speak for everyone, but I know I'm guilty of this as far as not being very aware of the issues that people face when they have these things in their life come up. And one of my good buddies, his mom, was in a terrible car accident and was paralyzed. And, you know, I would probably never think about these things if it wasn't for talking to him and hearing his story and what he's, you know, him and his mom have dealt with and the issues he's faced trying, you know, simple things like getting a ride somewhere, you know, the amount of time she spends waiting for someone to pick her up or, you know, and living. She moved from where she was at to here in Columbus to be closer to him and his family. But the just the issues he had, finding an accessible place for her to live. It's just not it's not something I think all of us probably think about if we're not in touch with somebody that's affected by it. So the education part of it is huge and spreading the word. Is huge. So thank you for, you know, what you guys do to raise awareness about it. It's that's a huge key and huge part of all this I think.

RJ Adler:

:

Yeah. Thanks and I'm lucky to be able to do this every day. But there's also this idea that, you know, Joseph likes to say we wouldn't consider building a house for one, one type of religion. We wouldn't consider building a house for one race or one culture. But here we are building a lot of houses that are cutting out people that need universal accessibility. But then there's also the idea of like, what is accessibility and who needs it when? So certainly there's, there's a permanent disability where you need it all the time. But you know, what about when your wife's in labor and everyone in all your parenting classes are saying, if you have one of those shower handles that can come off come off the wall and you can spray her back while she's in labor. Like, that's really helpful. Well, damn, I wish I had a universally accessible bathroom at home so I could do that. I mean, we are like, we live in Vermont and we're not hippies, so we are having going to a hospital. So hopefully we're going to have that available to us. But even when it comes to like washing my dog, so wouldn't you know, it wouldn't spray water in his face even if it comes to me just having a headache in the shower and it's nice to have a handrail to grab on to something. Or maybe I'm going camping with a bunch of buddies and I've filled up my cooler with some beverages and some food and some snacks and all that kind of stuff. And well, I stood wrong for 25 years of my life, so I have a bad back. In my house, I'm going to have to lift up that cooler, shimmy it down the two or three steps that I got and then and then put it into the car. Whereas if it was a universally designed house, I could just roll it right out of there. So, you know, there's, there's permanent disability and, and temporary disability if you're recovering from an accident. But then there's also these situational disabilities that we find ourselves in. I mean, any time that I put on my headphones so I can talk to a customer and type at the same time I'm just using some accessibility equipment and it's, it's situational, right? And I have to do that kind of thing. So, you know, universal design is good for everybody. It's not just for this one population.

Ryan Bell:

:

It's a great way to put it.

RJ Adler:

:

Not my words. You know, are there other people that I've spoken with and have helped me understand this. Yeah.

Seth Heckaman:

:

Like Ryan, I took note of your story of education and where that has taken you in sales. So as a sales leader here need to be looking for disillusioned educators who are looking for a career change that can be good consultative salespeople.

RJ Adler:

:

That's not the takeaway. No, we need good teachers.

Seth Heckaman:

:

Very good. Well, RJ, this has been great. Thank you so much for the conversation. Now need to ask you, as we're reaching the end of our time and we'd like to end with maybe a little bit of a lighthearted note, with a round of what we call our rapid-firequestions. Where we have seven questions ranging from serious to silly to let us get to know you a little bit better. As always, listeners, RJ does not know if he agrees to do this, what the questions are ahead of time. But are you willing to participate in our rapid-firequestions?

RJ Adler:

:

100%.

Seth Heckaman:

:

Fantastic. Ryan, you want to alternate back and forth on asking him?

Ryan Bell:

:

Sure.

Seth Heckaman:

:

Cool. First, we have seven. So the first question, what is your most useless talent? That is awesome.

Ryan Bell:

:

That's the best response we've had to a rapid-fire question, I think you win the award.

Seth Heckaman:

:

So for those who are not watching, that was not just standard whistling, that was some sort of whistling through his hands where he can add some nice vibrato to the happy birthday. So that was fantastic.

RJ Adler:

:

Thank you. You spend enough time alone in college and you learn how to do that kind of thing.

Ryan Bell:

:

Are you most productive in the evening or morning?

RJ Adler:

:

Morning.

Seth Heckaman:

:

Yep. You fit in well with this group, I think. So we plan these questions ahead of time, not knowing you were a former teacher. So but third question, if you could teach a high school class on any subject, what would it be?

RJ Adler:

:

Psychology. I was a psych major in college and if I could go back to teaching, it would be to teach psychology. That's also the class where I took AP Psych when I was in high school. I was I got into it by the skin of my teeth and I came home. I would come home every day and I would tell my mom, Oh, this is the cool thing we learned in psychology. This is a cool thing we learned in psychology. And around December of that year, my mom's like, No, I got to say, I was a little bit worried about you before you started talking about psychology. I was like, What do you mean worried? And she was like, Well, you're a little bit dimmer than your brothers. I don't think that's not exactly what she said. And she says that's not exactly how this story happened. But I remember it's a better story regardless.

Seth Heckaman:

:

You just need to find something interesting enough. There you go.

RJ Adler:

:

Yeah.

Seth Heckaman:

:

So what did you teach? Did you teach psych or what other subject did you teach?

RJ Adler:

:

I got to teach, it was a one-semesterelective psych course. It gave me a better understanding of psychology than I've ever had as a student. And I was also an intern teaching middle school history and high school English throughout that year.

Ryan Bell:

:

I was just going to add, I think there's a little bit of a pattern here. Seth isn't he maybe the second or third person that has answered that question was psychology as what they would teach?

Seth Heckaman:

:

Yeah, it's pretty common.

Ryan Bell:

:

It is, yeah. Interesting.

RJ Adler:

:

It's cool. It's cool stuff.

Ryan Bell:

:

Okay, next question. Who is your favorite band or musician right now?

RJ Adler:

:

I'm going to say Lake Street Dive. They're just groovy.

Seth Heckaman:

:

I'm not cool enough to know who that is, what's the genre if it can be defined?

RJ Adler:

:

They're like funk meets a rock band. The lead singer is a woman named Rachel Price. She's this, like, amazing alto. And but all of them together, just make a fantastic, fantastic group. They've got a great song about selfies called Bad Self Portraits.

Seth Heckaman:

:

We'll be looking them up. A favorite question here on Construction Disruption. Do you prefer the top or bottom half of the bagel?

RJ Adler:

:

Top, I want the flavor and plain bagels are ridiculous. I don't understand why anyone would make a plain bagel. It's like making a cider donut without sugar on it.

Seth Heckaman:

:

A plain bagel is the perfect cream cheese delivery device. Maybe that's why I like the bottom, I guess. I don't know.

Ryan Bell:

:

I like everything bagels.

Seth Heckaman:

:

There you go.

Ryan Bell:

:

What is your bucket list vacation?

RJ Adler:

:

I'm going to say going to the Azores, because that's where my wife and I were planning to go on our honeymoon. And we had we're planning our wedding for the summer of 2020. And then, well, that didn't work. Fortunately, we were able to have a wedding last summer, but we skipped the Azores piece.

Seth Heckaman:

:

So I'm embarrassed to ask, where is where's the Azores?

RJ Adler:

:

There there are a series of islands right off of Portugal. It's only like a five-hourflight from Boston. And apparently,we've had a few friends that have gone there. I guess my bucket list vacation is really just my honeymoon. I would love to be able to take one someday, but now that we're having a kid, it won't happen for another 20 years.

Seth Heckaman:

:

So last question. Number seven, what is the worst advice you've ever received?

RJ Adler:

:

Oh, man, I don't know that I remember. I'm going to go with smell this.

Ryan Bell:

:

That's a good answer.

Seth Heckaman:

:

Yeah, for sure. RJ, thank you so much. This has been great, a real pleasure. Is there anything we haven't covered today that you'd like to share before we wrap up?

RJ Adler:

:

No. I mean, I'd say, you know, obviously, if folks are interested, feel free to reach out. WheelPad.com, rj@wheelpad.com Is where you find me. Thank you guys so much for putting this podcast together. I'd say disruption is one of the things that I'm most excited about. And so a podcast that's all about disruption in my industry is, is super rad. And I'll be singing your song as much as I can to other folks. And I look forward to being acontinued listener.

RJ Adler:

:

Seth Heckaman: Well, thank you will be singing yours. Really appreciate and inspired by what you all are doing. So thanks so much. And thank you all for listening today to this episode of Construction Disruption with RJ Adler of the Innovative WheelPad Company. This has been very informative to hear how you saw a need and set out to meet it. Please watch for future episodes of our podcast. We have more great guests on tap. And don't forget to leave a review on Apple Podcasts or YouTube. Until then, change the world for someone. Make them smile, encourage them. Two of the most powerful things we can do to change the world. God bless, take care. This is Isaiah Industries signing off until the next episode of Construction Disruption.