Got milk? an entrepreneurial story

Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA: Coronavirus has not been all bad news: Maple View Mobile milk delivery business experienced 500% growth during Covid-19.

The North Carolina business was literally stretched to near breaking points during the height of local quarantines and social distancing.

“Before Covid-19, I was servicing 100-125 customers. In a peak 30-day window during the pandemic, I had grown to 540 customers – I literally had to shut down our website for a while because I could not logistically do more,” said Jerry Richardson, (pictured above) owner of the home delivery business that started bringing locally produced dairy-fresh milk to neighbourhoods in the fall of 2016.

Richardson is the modern day milkman and his entrepreneurial story is included in Thermo King’s latest White Paper, Keep Home Delivery Fresh. It has advice on best practice, equipment selection and a host of other issues surround temperature controlled home deliveries and food safety.

Dowload the White Paper here

Maple View Mobile was one of the many Thermo King-supported businesses that found out just how essential his services are in times of need. “My original customer base consisted primarily of families who appreciated farm-fresh nutritious milk and the nostalgia of front-door glass bottle delivery that also supported environmentally-friendly recycling efforts,” Richardson said.

“As communities adjusted to new norms and were looking for more options in home delivery, they found me and the word spread quickly.” So quickly that he found his milk delivery sales exceeding total 2019 revenues by the middle of May. A good thing considering the other part of his business, which consists of ice cream sales at local festivals and events, became non-existent because of mandatory cancellations.

As milk routes grew, so did his working hours (12-13 hour days were not unusual) and so were the hours logged on his Thermo King V-520 SmartPower electric standby refrigeration unit, which performed like a champ, he said. “That unit was running nearly non-stop, cycling on and off over and over again with the many stops and did not let me or my customers down,” said Jerry. And neither did Temperature Control Solutions, Jerry’s Thermo King dealer in Raleigh.

Maple View Mobile was one of the many Thermo King-supported businesses that found out just how essential his services are in times of need

“I had two issues with the unit during this busy period and the dealership had everything taken care of within 24 hours. I can’t say enough how vital a guaranteed maintenance program is for peace of mind and uninterrupted service to customers.”

The decision to diversify his business from solely ice cream sales proved to be a good one financially – who knew that a pandemic was coming? Even more heart-warming was the way his customers supported his milk delivery efforts and his small business.

I had customers tell me to keep billing them even if they were out of town or sick. When the dairy that supplies the milk ran out of glass bottles for a while, no one complained or asked for discounts. Others urged me to add eCommerce capabilities so they could add tips. That support really kept me going those long days and demonstrated the community support for small business.”

Business has levelled a bit and a new normal is beginning to take shape in the community. Richardson expects to retain at least double the customers he had pre-Covid, and while both he and his Thermo King unit are enjoying the return to more normal working hours, there are no doubts about their ability to ramp up again if the demand escalates.

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