Two Birmingham area businesses begin an innovative partnership

Blox and Encompass Health employees cut the ribbon to begin their new partnership! Photo by Libby Foster for Bham Now.
Blox and Encompass Health employees cut the ribbon to begin their new partnership! Photo by Libby Foster for Bham Now.

Two Birmingham area companies, Encompass Health and BLOX, are embarking on an exciting new partnership. The businesses are working together to build higher quality and more cost-efficient hospitals. We visited Blox’s manufacturing facility in Bessemer to learn more.

How did the partnership start?

The Blox facility in Bessemer is producing ready-made hospital wings for Encompass Health. Photo by Libby Foster for Bham Now.
The Blox facility in Bessemer is producing ready-made hospital wings for Encompass Health. Photo by Libby Foster for Bham Now.

BLOX and Encompass Health have long and intertwined histories.

In the early 2000s, BLOX’s CEO Chris Giattina came up with an idea: why not apply assembly lines to the world of construction? After extensive research and design, he took his proposal to Health South, now Encompass Health.

Health South gave Giattina a shot at producing small bathrooms for their new hospitals. It was a success.

Blox and Encompass Health employees were invited to the ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo by Libby Foster for Bham Now.
Blox and Encompass Health employees wait for the ribbon cutting ceremony in Blox’s Bessemer facility. Photo by Libby Foster for Bham Now.

Both companies have grown by leaps and bounds since their original partnership. BLOX’s Bessemer facility was formerly the site of the Pullman Standard steel factory. It was left vacant for decades. Today, it’s a bustling and state-of-the-art facility that makes thousands of units for its clients. With this increased capacity, BLOX is able to work on bigger projects. Encompass Health is also growth oriented: they’re one of the nation’s largest providers of rehabilitative care, and they’re working on a massive expansion nationwide.

New and improved collaboration

Blox employees were in good spirits for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo by Libby Foster for Bham Now.
Blox employees were in good spirits for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo by Libby Foster for Bham Now.

Today’s partnership brings BLOX and Encompass Health full circle. The two Birmingham area businesses will be able to assist in each other’s growth like never before.

Encompass Health is looking for the right markets to build and deliver care across the U.S. As a part of that process, they want to build higher quality hospitals faster and at a reduced price. With BLOX’s extensive experience in health care construction, they were the perfect partner for this goal.

Thomas H. Boyle, the Vice President and Chief Design and Construction Officer at Encompass, was ecstatic about the new collaboration. He emphasized that BLOX’s Alabama roots help the partnership.

The Blox facility employs 150 Alabamians a day. Photo by Libby Foster for Bham Now.
The Blox facility employs 150 Alabamians a day. Photo by Libby Foster for Bham Now.

“You have a vested interest. You have people that you see day in, day out. It’s not a Zoom call. Whenever we come out to the plant, I see familiar faces. We’re all working on this together,” Boyle reflected.

BLOX and Encompass are working together to build hospitals faster, better and cheaper. In their new partnership, BLOX is building patient wings for Encompass Health. Each of Encompass’ new hospitals will use 20-30 of BLOX’s patient wing modules. By going to the module delivery method with BLOX, Encompass Health anticipates they’ll be able to solve problems ahead of time.

Good business for the greater good

Scissors were placed on chairs ahead of the ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo by Libby Foster for Bham Now.
Scissors were placed on chairs ahead of the ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo by Libby Foster for Bham Now.

BLOX held a ribbon cutting ceremony for their new patient wing assembly line on Wednesday, June 2. All of the speakers at the ceremony emphasized how this new partnership will benefit the greater Birmingham community.

150 people will be employed every day at BLOX’s Bessemer plant because of the partnership. These jobs could go to any of the 36 states Encompass operates in, but they’re coming to the Birmingham area because of BLOX’s unique experience.

Encompass Health employees celebrate after the ribbon cutting. Photo by Libby Foster for Bham Now.
Encompass Health employees celebrate after the ribbon cutting. Photo by Libby Foster for Bham Now.

Bessemer’s Mayor, Kenneth E. Gulley, thinks Jefferson County can thrive with more partnerships like the one between Encompass and Blox.

“Blox is the definition of a corporate partner in Bessemer. They continue to give citizens of this city a greater quality of life,” said Gulley.

This new partnership could set an example for the rest of central Alabama. If there’s one lesson to take from this story, it’s that corporate collaboration leads to innovation.

For more on BLOX’s business pursuits, check out https://bhamnow.com/2020/03/31/bessemer-based-company-fighting-covid-19-with-rapidly-deployed-mobile-icus/.

This partnership will bring progress to Birmingham! Follow @bhamnow for more updates on the Magic City’s growth.

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Libby Foster
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