Demetrice Hall did not grow up knowing he wanted to work in logistics. But after a successful military career, he’s launched his own business and become a transportation partner for the biggest brand in the world.
Hall’s company, VETSmart, was named a Nashville-area Amazon Delivery Service Partner (DSP) in August, operating with five delivery vans and eight employees.
In early November, the VETSmart team was delivering about 2,600 packages a day, operating 24 vans.
At the end of November, Hall had 30 vans and 55 employees. Together, the VETSmart team has delivered more than 63,000 packages with a 99.27% success rate.
Hall will likely soon hit the contract ceiling of 40 routes.
What’s a day like delivering for Amazon?
VETSmart, which makes deliveries in the Murfreesboro area, is one of 13 delivery companies working out of the Nashville hub.
Hall’s day starts at 9 a.m., when he arrives at the VETSmart warehouse to verify routes, get vans and technology ready and meet his employees at 10:35 for a safety and weather briefing. Drivers then convoy to the Amazon warehouse, load vans and depart on their routes by 11:30 a.m.
“It’s like every morning when you’re out there and see that last van leave, it’s like ‘Whew, we made it today,’ Hall said. “Because so many things can go wrong.”
Thanks to Amazon’s technology, Hall can track his drivers’ delivery progress and has access to detailed performance metrics.
DSPs like Hall receive a fixed monthly payment from Amazon based on the number of delivery vehicles, plus a rate based on route length and a rate based on the amount of delivered packages.
Hall said his biggest challenge right now is finding the team-oriented drivers to add to the growing VETSmart team. Drivers start at $15 an hour with benefits.
“When we’re out driving if your route is over, I expect you to go help your fellow driver,” he said. “That’s just how it is.”
Amazon Logistics has emphasized its DSPs be hands-on leaders passionate about hiring and coaching great teams. Hall said they emphasized experience managing diverse teams, which spoke to his leadership positions in the military.
Amazon estimates startup costs as low as $10,000 and a potential annual profit of $75,000-$300,000 for its DSPs. Amazon provides deals on Amazon-branded vans, comprehensive insurance, technology and in-depth training to its DSPs.
Helping Veterans become entrepreneurs
Hall credits his father’s time in the Marine Corps for teaching him a new way of life, work ethic and discipline. Ernest E. Hall, Jr. served for 20 years and passed away unexpectedly about three months ago.
“As I got older, I learned that it was hard for him to leave because his family and friends were here in Lonsdale,” he said. “And he knew that if he stayed here, then he would get into some of the same things his friends were doing.”
Hall joined the Air Force in 1993 and spent 24 years in places like South Korea, North Japan and Italy.
While in the Air Force, Hall led multimillion-dollar logistics, supply chain and facility management projects for the Department of Defense, and was president of the Air Force Sergeants Association at Misawa Air Base. He received six Meritorious Service medals during his military career and obtained an MBA.
“Growing up in poverty, you have to learn to adapt to things and just keep on going,” Hall said. “So I already had this mentality when I joined the Air Force because there’s so many things that you plan for that don’t happen, as far as missions go. It just re-instilled my resiliency and discipline.”
Hall had always dreamed of returning to the Lonsdale community, and so when he retired from the Air Force in 2017, the Senior Master Sergeant headed home.
Through his work in explosives logistics, he knew there was an opportunity in contract transportation. But it wasn’t until a lunch with his mentor, Jackie Whiteside, that he decided to start his own business, and not long after started the arduous Amazon screening process.
“It was very competitive,” he said. “People have made jokes about it being like hitting the lottery, it’s not quite like that.”
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Credit: Knox News