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How 3PL Symbia Logistics is Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Monday, April 6, 2020  
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Megan Smith, CEO of Symbia Logistics, a third-party logistics (3PL) service provider headquartered in Colorado, says that transparency and communication have been key to keeping employee morale high while addressing customer concerns as her company works to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. With locations across the country and more than 150 customers to serve, Smith quickly initiated the practice of sending a daily email of quick updates about the status of her operations to both groups.

Additionally, on March 11, Smith started a blog entry dedicated to sharing information about nationwide developments in the COVID-19 pandemic; its impact on warehousing, logistics, carriers and various modes of transportation; and how Symbia is continuously adapting and responding to the fluid situation. Smith has been both candid and open in her daily updates to the post, even going so far as to post direct cell phone numbers for herself and her leadership team.

“Our customers, understandably, have been concerned about our capacity and ability to operate in this constantly changing environment we’re all living in right now,” she says. “In addition to the emails and the posts, we put together two separate documents that explain how we will handle a known or suspected exposure of one of our associates to COVID-19 and what our protocol is for managing a temporary suspension of service — before, during and after — at a location due to that circumstance.”

Smith and her team have shared those documents with customers, as well as internally, to tremendous positive response. “Customers obviously want to know what’s going to happen to their products if one of our facilities has to shut down. Employees need to know what to expect as well.”

She’s also sharing them with her WERC peers as an example of some the things they may wish to consider if they don’t have similar plans in place. As a third generation WERC member (her grandfather, Tommy N. Smith, was among the first to join the association), Smith feels strongly about supporting and helping others in the field.

“Every company should absolutely develop their own planning documents that work for their unique operations,” she advises. “But we recognize that for organizations who don’t have plans in place specifically for a situation like this, it helps to see what others have done to get ideas. It’s incredibly humbling that people in the industry are turning to us as a resource.”

One of Smith’s biggest concerns is protecting the confidentiality and privacy of a sick employees. “We’re in a situation where, if someone coughs or sneezes due to spring allergies, everyone freaks out. It’s important to be sensitive to that, which is why — in our document for handling a known or suspected COVID-19 exposure — we specifically note that facility employees should not be notified until an exposure is confirmed,” she cautions.

As of yet, Symbia’s COVID-19 response planning documents have not been needed. “We get a report in daily by 9:00 a.m. mountain time from every location answering a few key status questions, then we compile it into the daily email and blog post,” says Smith. “Absenteeism is one of the metrics we’ve been following closely because if it spikes at one location, then something is going on that we need to investigate. But, so far, we haven’t seen that. And we’re very grateful.”

Her next task is rolling out an internal, employee-wide morale boosting program named “You Are Essential.” It includes care packages for team members as a way to thank them for their extra efforts during this time. “I think it’s important to share with our associates that they are very essential to our nation and to the continued progress of our country as we all work together to get through this crisis,” she concludes.


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