Amazon can’t depend on Santa and his reindeer to deliver its countless holiday packages this month. That’s why it relies on its delivery service partners to do the job.
Kristina Curry is chief operating officer for 315 Logistics, one of the more than 15 companies within Hampton Roads contracted all year long to complete the “final mile” for Amazon.
Weekly totals for Hampton Roads can be upward of close to 1 million packages per week with many delivered the same day they are purchased or within two business days, Curry said.
Delivery service partners, called DSPs, are responsible for delivering about 85% of that volume with the rest delivered by independent contractors as part of the Amazon Flex program, she said.
And they dub the holiday season as their “Super Bowl,” Curry said.
“During peak season, our team itself is responsible for delivering out of two Amazon stations, Chesapeake and Hampton, with a daily volume of roughly 12,000 packages delivered by a team of more than 50 drivers each day,” she said.
Previously working in tourism in Virginia Beach, Curry got involved part-time in the delivery service industry in June of 2020. Curry said she picked up an Amazon Flex shift on the weekend delivering packages to make extra money for the house she and her now husband were buying at the time.
When John Lugo, a retired Navy logistics officer and CEO of 315 Logistics, saw Curry in action, he commented on her organized system and offered her to come on board full-time to oversee his operations.
Curry said she knew there were different facets to logistics, but she didn’t understand how involved it actually is.
“It’s not only managing the people, the day and the routes, the packages that have to be delivered, but it’s managing a fleet of vehicles that have to be serviced,” she said. “There’s personnel and vehicles and boxes galore, but every day, it’s just a little different. And then, of course, there’s recruiting involved.”
Curry said her drivers, consisting of a pool of 140 including about 40 seasonal employees, work 10-hour days during the holiday season to ensure delivery of anywhere from 200 to 360 packages a day.
Packages delivered through this subsection of Amazon’s logistics top out at 50 pounds, which Curry said helps to enable more women to join the team.
While the company’s bread and butter is servicing the Chesapeake Amazon location, Curry said that for the second year in a row, the business was asked to create a second team to support the Hampton station on West Mercury Boulevard.
The real magic, Curry said, is going to be on Christmas Eve.
“We have what’s called Operation No Package Left Behind, and that is that every package will be delivered that night,” she said.
Phone calls, texts and even late night white glove deliveries will ensure each package is handed over to its rightful owner in time for Christmas, Curry said.
Faced with inclement weather, dogs, traffic and more, Curry said her drivers are some of the most inspiring people she’s ever had the pleasure to work with.
“It’s strenuous work, and it’s thankless work a lot of the time,” she said.
There are small things customers can do to make the deliveries smoother, she said, including turning on a porch light, keeping pets inside, providing snacks and saying “thank you.”
Keeping employees motivated and engaged during the holiday season, especially in the 12 days leading up to Christmas, includes a giveaway.
“Last year, we gave away $12,000 in prizes, cash and gift cards,” she said. “We want to make them feel like they’re part of a team even when it can be very isolating to be on the road by yourself all day.”
While some may be overwhelmed to deliver upward of 300 packages to doorsteps each day, Curry said the right people with the right attitude can do well in the job.
Agnieszka “Aga” Przesniak is one of those who excels. She became a delivery associate for 315 Logistics in April.
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“I enjoy this type of work because I like being on the go in a fast-paced environment,” she said.
Przesniak is also on the 315 fleet team. Fleet team members come in two hours earlier than other driver associates to take care of routine maintenance of vans, inspect vehicles and attend to emergency issues to make sure drivers have a safe and successful day.
The most challenging aspect during the holiday season is the increased number of packages, she said, but keeping the right mindset helps get the job done.
“When you push that ‘buy now’ button or you add it to your cart, you don’t think about all the things that go on behind the scenes to get that to your doorstep and in two days no less,” Curry said.
Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836, firstname.lastname@example.org