Amazon orders 20,000 vans for small businesses
In June, Amazon announced its Delivery Service Partner (DSP) program, an offering aimed at aspiring entrepreneurs who want to build private businesses delivering Amazon packages.
The DSP program offers individuals, even those with no logistics experience, an opportunity to create their own business knowing they will have delivery volume from Amazon, access to the company’s sophisticated technology, hands-on training, branded vans, and more.
The public response to the program’s unveiling was humbling. Tens of thousands of applicants from across the U.S., from a hugely diverse applicant pool, poured in. Candidates included military veterans, serial entrepreneurs, former NFL players, husband-and-wife partnerships, father-and-sons, and brothers, each interested in teaming up to make deliveries on Amazon’s behalf. As the extent of the public’s interest became clear, Amazon quickly rolled out the program in hundreds of additional cities across the country.
So on Wednesday, just north of historic Charleston, South Carolina, at the opening of a Mercedes-Benz manufacturing plant, the mood was particularly buoyant, as Dave Clark, Amazon’s Senior Vice President for Worldwide Operations, surprised the Mercedes- Benz team with an order increase of Sprinter vans.
It makes me very proud to know that we’ve created a program that will make it possible for hundreds of people to become entrepreneurs.
“Thanks to the tremendous response to Amazon’s new Delivery Service Partner program, we are excited to increase our original order of branded vans to 20,000 vehicles, so new small businesses will have access to a customized fleet to power deliveries of Amazon packages,” said Clark, as he spoke to a crowd that included hundreds of local Mercedes-Benz workers, and Governor Henry McMaster. “Coming from a family of small business owners, it makes me very proud to know that we’ve created a program that will make it possible for hundreds of people to become entrepreneurs.”
The Amazon-branded vehicle will be the first Sprinter vans to roll off the manufacturing line at Mercedes-Benz’ North Charleston auto plant. Each van includes features ideal for delivery vehicles – they’re equipped with a high roof so drivers can stand in the van, a bulkhead, customized shelving in the cargo area to prevent packages from moving, and a suite of safety features that make package delivery even more secure.
Amazon’s order not only makes it the largest customer of Sprinter vans in the world. It also will have an important economic impact in the Charleston area where the vans are made.
More than 900 people are currently working at the North Charleston Mercedes-Benz plant, and Mercedes has announced it will soon employ up to 1,300 at the plant within two years. The iconic German car manufacturer invested around $500 million in the plant. And, according to estimates, suppliers working with Mercedes-Benz will create an additional 6000 new jobs in the North Charleston area.
“We’re proud to partner with Mercedes-Benz Vans to contribute to local economies through the order of Amazon branded Sprinter vans produced at their new plant in North Charleston,” said Clark.
For Amazon, the partnership is another example of its growing involvement with the Palmetto state. Amazon already has two fulfillment centers and employs more than 2,800 people in full-time rolls across South Carolina.
The opening of the Mercedes-Benz plant also included a uniquely Amazonian twist. Amazon is taking part in a #GoGold campaign to raise awareness about childhood cancer. The very first Sprinter van that came off the assembly line was painted gold to celebrate Amazon’s Goes Gold campaign. The van will be driven across the country, raising awareness about childhood cancer, collecting children’s gold-colored hand prints. When the van arrives in Seattle, it will be displayed at Amazon’s headquarters.
The gold van and Amazon’s donations to local children’s hospitals, underscore Amazon’s commitment to local communities where the company operates.