In early March, Michael Moss was watching a news segment that highlighted the nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical professionals working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. After learning about hospital nurses who were forced to make their own face shields and hearing President Trump urge companies to do their part, Moss knew he had to act.
In searching for ways to help, Moss, President and CEO of Sweet Shop USA, realized that the rigid, clear plastic used in some of Sweet Shop’s chocolate boxes was similar to that of the face shields needed by medical personnel. In about a week, he and his team mocked up a design, asked their longtime plastic vendor to cut sheets to size, and pivoted 25% of the factory into a shield-making assembly line.
The shipping challenge
Although shipping chocolate is difficult, Moss and his team quickly learned that shipping face shields was harder. Pandemic restrictions made it impossible to secure guaranteed ground delivery, and sending partial truckloads became prohibitively expensive, even though the face shields didn’t weigh much. “A whole pallet of shields might only be 200 pounds,” Moss said. “But it could cost $800.”
The need to ship the face shields efficiently and at a lower cost led Moss to Uber Freight. As an early user of Uber rides, he was intrigued that the Uber concept had been applied to logistics. While Moss doesn’t typically handle Sweet Shop’s shipping needs, he himself was able to quickly onboard, create loads, and schedule them using Uber Freight’s shipper platform.
“I love the [dashboard],” he said of the shipper platform. “It’s super easy to use.” In fact, Moss and the Sweet Shop team were so pleased with the service that they also began using Uber Freight to get their inbound supplies, like the plastic, Velcro, or foam needed to craft the shields.
Beyond the platform’s ease of use, Moss has also been pleasantly surprised at the personalized service he and his staff have received from the Uber Freight team, specifically from account executive Charlie Coghlin.
“When we first started with Uber Freight, I never expected to ship as much as we did,” he said. “And I certainly never expected to get an agent or representative that would be as attentive to our needs as Charlie has been. If I need him, I’ve got him. And that has made all the difference.” Although most shipments have gone smoothly, there have been some COVID-19 related challenges that did require the kind of personal attention that Charlie and the team provide. When sending face shields to Gallup, New Mexico, for example, the truck was held up at a checkpoint. There were barricades around the entire town, and no one could easily get in or out. Moss called Charlie, who sprung into action and made sure the shipment got there on time.
A slow return to normal
As Sweet Shop’s chocolate operations begin to resume their pre-COVID pace, Moss has plans to continue using Uber Freight moving forward to ship its chocolate—just as the company surpasses its 1 millionth face shield. “We had never used Uber Freight for our chocolate business [before],” Moss said, “but we find we’re using it [now] for our regular business, which is great.”