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Medical Coaches Inc.; Medicoach
Medical Coaches Inc., 1949-1955; New York, New York; 1955-present, Oneonta, New York; 2000-present, Albany, Oregon
Associated Builders
Linn Coach & Truck

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 years follow:

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 mountain."

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 business.”

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 approval.

“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 new blueprints.”

“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 by hand.”

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 trucking units.

February 2, 1957 Oneonta Star:

High Argentine Officials Visit Oneonta To Investigate Utility of Medical Coaches

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 Oneonta yesterday.

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 pound.

Meat is the chief product of Argentina, he said, with tea and lumber closely behind.

“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 years.

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 the other.

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 born.

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 units.

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 veterinary work.

They can come complete with power and water supply, interior heating, air conditioning and the like . . ." supplied to meet your precise requirements within budget limitations."

His Health-on-Wheels units are self-propelled or tractor-driven semi- trailer combinations, depending upon the type of terrain over which they operate.

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."

Nine Types

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."

Wins Praise

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 quite something,"

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 the chassis.

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 Commission.

Electronic Field Measurement and Test Vans for the U.S. Coast Guard designed for transport by military aircraft. (Some units in use in South Viet Nam.)

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 growing community.

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 facility.

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 addiction.

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 exclusive relationship.

“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 validated.”

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.

Innovative Designs

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 product.”

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 calibration.

Barbara Kram - Medical Coaches Delivers Siemens MRI to North Carolina Provider September 24, 2006 -

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 services.

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 of $600,000.

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 months.

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 unremarkable.

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 populations everywhere.

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 Rockhampton.

“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 other soldiers.

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 countries.

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 director.

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 in 1976.

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 Congo

1950's: Mobile Public Telephone, self-propelled, bus

There is an increasing demand for "mobile health care" in domestic and overseas markets.

1960: Care mobile health clinic delivered to the people of India

1961: Founder, Ian M. Smith inspects CARE Mobile Medical Clinic for India.

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 C.A.R.E program.

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 years.

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 throughout China.

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 kidney stones.

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 Siemens Medical.

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 disease.

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 processing.

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 accurate diagnosis.

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 company.

Medical Coaches-once generated sales in countries including Saudi Arabia and Iran.

"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 says.

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 sells.

"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 hospitals.

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).


Geoffrey A. Smith, President, Medical Coaches, Inc.
*Age: 61
* Education: Bachelor's degree from Lehigh University
* Residence: West Oneonta
* Family: Wife, son (Chad Smith, marketing director for Medical Coaches, Inc.)
* 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.


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 clinics
Specialized ambulances
Mobile Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and lithotripsy
Electronics and computer instrumentation trailers
Mobile kitchens
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.


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.


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.


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.

Picture Captions:

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 bodies.

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 completely independent.

© 2004 Mark Theobald -






Kristina Martino - Medical Coaches reopens door to Middle East - Central New York Business Journal. Jul 10, 2008 issue

Mark Simonson – Lyncoach of Oenonta (pp39) - Reminiscing Across the Valleys; Vol. 4

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Lore A. Rogers & Caleb W. Scribner – Curators, Patten, Maine Lumberman’s Museum – A National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark - Lombard Steam Log Hauler – August 14, 1982 - American Society of Mechanical Engineers – 8-pp brochure

Mark Simonson - Unexpected pit stop leads to major career change, Oneonta Daily Star,  March 20, 2000 issue

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Barbara Kram - Medical Coaches Delivers Siemens MRI to North Carolina Provider September 24, 2006

Laura Cox - Medical Coach Helps Citizens Of 110 Nations - Hometown Oneonta and The Otsego-Delaware Dispatch, Nov 21, 2008

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G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

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