An Iowa City company started during the pandemic as the “last mile” delivery service for Amazon will close next month.
GRIT Delivers LLC, which delivered Amazon packages in Amazon-branded delivery vehicles to the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area, notified the state it would close on Feb. 5 and lay off 62 workers.
The company’s website had been taken down, but a former driver described the company on a LinkedIn page as “a logistics company contracted by Amazon to perform Last Mile Deliveries.” The phrase “last mile” is used in the transportation industry to mean merchandise taken from the nearest distribution hub and delivered to the final destination, such as a home or business.
Owner Kira Sears-Elliott said her reason for closing GRIT was because she has “other businesses and chose to close to focus on other tasks,” she told Starting Line after this story was published.
GRIT Delivers opened just days after Amazon opened a “delivery station” in Iowa City. Delivery stations are smaller than the company’s fulfillment warehouses, but help the company with faster delivery times.
Amazon DSPs elsewhere under fire
Under a program launched in 2018, Amazon encourages people with $10,000 in start-up cash to become delivery service partners, or DSPs, with the company. More than 1,300 DSPs in five countries were up and running by August of 2020, including GRIT.
But the low pay and low-quality work environment compared to other delivery jobs meant DSP owners having to continually focus on hiring. (The last several posts on GRIT’s Facebook page, including its final one in October, were job applications.)
Strict rules on van rental and repair costs also ate into company owners’ promised profits, according to a Protocol article from March. A DSP owner from North Carolina even sued Amazon recently, saying the company designed the program so that DSPs couldn’t afford to leave unless Amazon forced them out.
For her part, Sears-Elliott said that “was (not) my experience” running a DSP.
by Amie Rivers
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