Flexibility Underlies Our COVID-19 Response

by Brad Jacobs, Chairman and CEO, XPO Logistics

Like businesses worldwide that are grappling with the COVID-19 crisis, our capacity to adapt to fast-changing circumstances is being tested in ways we never imagined. In response, we’re tapping the resourcefulness of our employees, customers and others whose ingenuity is helping to fight the spread of the virus and keep vital shipments moving.

We welcome the responsibility we carry as a designated provider of essential services. That responsibility has showcased the agility required to address my top priority: protecting the health and safety of our frontline employees whose job functions typically don’t lend themselves to social distancing. The team at our Kennesaw, Georgia, facility designed physical barriers with PVC piping and replaceable plastic wrap, and set them up between workstations. We’re replicating that idea in other parts of the business. To deal with the country’s shortage of hand sanitizer, our supply chain operation is working with contract manufacturers to produce tens of thousands of gallons and distribute it to our facilities.

Improvisation is enabling responses to needs that might otherwise go unfulfilled. Partnering with Burton Snowboards in Ohio, for example, we’re helping to supply goggles to hospitals in Pennsylvania and New York. Our great partners in the automotive industry have begun using much of their manufacturing capacity to produce masks, and we’re helping ensure they’re being delivered where the need is most critical. Our Expedite operation is flying shipments of masks to the epicenter of the pandemic, New York City. In fact, we’re handling 40% more shipments to hospitals than we did prior to the crisis, shifting resources to deliver desperately needed personal protective equipment, ventilators, and other vital supplies.

That same flexibility has proven key as we’ve redirected resources and ramped up capacity to keep grocery shelves stocked. One of our customers, a large wholesale grocery chain, expects to need 50% more capacity over the next several months. Another called on us to increase pasta shipments from 5,000 tons to 8,000 tons per week. The aim is to help make more non-perishable food items available as quarantines and shelter-in-place mandates multiply.

Across our industry, flexibility is winning. It’s a difficult time, no doubt, but the resolve of our frontline employees to adapt to an unprecedented challenge makes me proud. My own commitment to giving them the support they need is unwavering, as is my confidence that together, we will make it through this.

That confidence is bolstered by the inspiring stories I hear every day of people who are determined to do their part, both inside and outside XPO. Volunteers are sewing cloth face coverings at home in response to the recent CDC guidelines. People are spontaneously delivering food to exhausted healthcare workers. Generosity and kindness are spreading as stubbornly as the virus. That’s the on-the-fly spirit most worth emulating, and the key to getting us to the other side. It won’t be easy, but we’re going to do it. I have no doubt about that.