Gulf Coast Supply Helps Provide Housing for Earthquake-Stricken Haiti With Easy-To-Build Kit Homes Shipped in Crates

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John Sherrill and Jeff Reed of Gulf Coast Supply & Manufacturing Inc. ( were on a mission trip to Guatemala when they were inspired to design a cost-effective kit home. The result, which they call the International Relief Home, may be just the thing to help provide housing for families in Haiti who are homeless as a result of the recent devastating earthquake.

A Florida company is poised to help provide economical housing for the earthquake-stricken country of Haiti, with 80 kit homes already under construction and more to become available as that country struggles to re-build.

Gulf Coast Supply & Manufacturing Inc. ( is based in Horseshoe Beach, FL, and has been making for several years what the company calls International Relief Homes. The company, which started in 1995, is a leader in the metal roofing industry and also manufactures metal buildings.

The inspiration for the dwellings came while its founders -- brothers-in-law John Sherrill and Jeff Reed -- were on a mission trip to Guatemala, where they saw a need for economically feasible housing. When the two men returned, they began to design just such a home, said John's son, Jonathan, the company's general manager.

"To address the significant need for relief housing and permanent dwellings in foreign countries, Gulf Coast Supply has designed a 15 by 18 steel house kit," Jonathan said. "These low-cost homes make it easy for you or your organization to provide a needy family with the shelter they need."

That initial parameters for the home kits evolved over time. The break-through for the current design came when Jonathan went to Texas in January, 2009, to be trained on a software program that would help expedite the fabrication of the dwellings. The result was a lighter, but still strong, product that was easier to manufacture, ship and build on-site with a minimum of tools.

"Our International Relief Homes feature two rooms, one door, two windows and two skylights," Jonathan said. "They're insulated, and can be equipped with a gutter to capture rainwater for drinking -- an important feature in areas where local water is polluted with bacteria."

Each International Relief Home costs about $2,000 and is shipped in two sturdy wooden crates. (Shipping cost varies, depending on destination and number of units purchased.)

The shipping crates have a second function: The wood is designed to be re-purposed as bunk beds, tables and shelving.

The hardship in Haiti has had a personal impact on Jonathan who previously made six mission trips to that country, most recently about four years ago. He said he was startled by the images he saw on the Internet, particularly the all-but-destroyed presidential palace.

"Unbelievable," he said, "Because I had been there so many times. It's unbelievable how much damage there was."

Upwards of 150 of the International Relief Homes have been installed since the company began offering the units. About 80 kits are currently being fabricated and scheduled for eventual shipment to Haiti. The company is gearing up for more orders as the relief work gradually shifts from rescue efforts to re-building

Gulf Coast Supply & Manufacturing Inc. is located at 4020 SW 449th Street in Horseshoe Beach, FL, 32648. For more information about the company and its products, call (352) 498-0778 or visit . The company's toll free number is (888) 393-0335.

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