Sanford company creates 'Ikea meets construction' housing for US troops

Structures can be assembled quickly, moved, CEO says

SANFORD, Fla. – A Sanford company is helping the U.S. military by making portable housing structures for the troops when they are deployed.

Ron Ben-Zeev is the founder and CEO of World Housing Solution, which makes the Rapidly Deployable Structures.

Ben-Zeev demonstrated to News 6 how durable the material is by having an employee hit it with a sledgehammer.

"This shows you how it reacts to a blast, potentially," he said.

The composite material is used to produce pieces of various sizes. All of the pieces have a tongue-and-groove configuration that allows them to snap together. The structures are also environmentally friendly, designed to last for decades and to be reused, according to the World Housing Solution white paper.

"Think 'Ikea meets construction,'" Ben-Zeev said. "The structures can be built, sent out and assembled on-site by virtually unskilled laborers, then taken apart and moved again."

They are designed to handle hurricane force winds, sweltering desert temps, frigid landscapes and are fire-resistant. Ben-Zeev demonstrated this by lighting a blowtorch to a sample of the material.

"Once I remove the source of the flame, it will put itself out," he said.

The biggest benefit is that the structures can be assembled quickly, according to Ben-Zeev.  A time-lapsed video shows a 16 by 16 foot structure going up in about two hours. World Housing Solution structures give the military the ability to set up entire villages in a short amount of time, Ben-Zeev said.

"We can provide the U.S. military a new way to house, create offices, create bathrooms, create dining rooms for the soldiers while they're out," he said.

Ben-Zeev did not create the company six years ago with the military in mind, but adapted his product when the government came calling.

"We started our lives in the nonprofit, disaster relief, first responder world and did not succeed," he said.

When U.S. Navy officials called, the company was close to calling it quits.

"We would have closed shop. We would not have been here, if they had not shown up," he said. "We never thought, 'One day we're going to sell to the military.' Never, ever."

Ben-Zeev said he is optimistic about the company's growth and the need to hire more people and glad to be supporting U.S. troops.

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