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Taylorsville Journal

How on Taylorsville City Councilman's Amazon connection led to 11,000 PPE kits for the city

Mar 15, 2021 02:32PM ● By Carl Fauver

Taylorsville City Councilman Dan Armstrong recently made a large donation of PPE to community schools and other locations, courtesy of online shopping giant Amazon. (Taylorsville City)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

When the undisputed heavyweight champion of online marketing, Jeff Bezos, said last month he will soon step down as Amazon CEO, the surprise announcement offered another opportunity for us to hear all the staggering numbers related to the company:  

  • 1.3 million employees
  • 12 million products
  • 150 million Prime members
  • $125.6 billion in sales, last quarter 
  • $1.7 trillion company valuation; and 
  • $188 billion personal wealth for Bezos

But in the midst of all those nearly incomprehensible numbers, Taylorsville City Councilman Dan Armstrong is fond of a much more modest Amazon number: two. That’s the number of his relatives—a son and a nephew—who are now earning a good full-time living through Amazon, thanks to his decision to “try something I had never even thought about before.”

The veteran Taylorsville elected official is a certified public accountant with his own successful business. He had no particular need to branch into a relationship with Amazon. But his relatives sold him on the idea. 

“We are what Amazon calls delivery service providers, or DSPs,” Armstrong said. “A couple of years ago, my son and son-in-law were looking for jobs and they began to look into this. I joined in as a mentor or adviser. We applied for it. Amazon flew me up to Seattle for an interview. And several months later, we got word we had the job.”

Their first deliveries were made, on the north end of the Salt Lake Valley, on June 26, 2019. By then, the son-in-law was out of the picture after taking a job on the East Coast. Replacing him in the family-owned company was Armstrong’s brother’s son, nephew Blake Armstrong.

“My son Josh is our HR manager, handling insurance, accounting and personnel,” Armstrong said. “Blake is our operations manager. We have since hired four dispatchers. Our number of drivers fluctuates depending on what Amazon needs. We had to lay off several drivers in January, when Amazon cut our delivery routes.”

Josh Armstrong remembers that first delivery day well, because one-third of the workforce (one of the three drivers) quit after half a day.

“Driving an Amazon delivery truck is hard work,” Josh Armstrong said. “Drivers are in and out of their trucks 180 to 200 times in a 10-hour shift. On that first day, I was driving, Blake was driving, and a third guy. After 5 1/2 hours, that third guy quit. Meantime, Blake and I drove delivery trucks for seven straight months, without a day off.”

Under their name Armstrong Logistics LLC, the company grew from three delivery routes on that first day to 25 routes by September 1, 2019. Fifteen months later, last December, the company peaked at 48 Salt Lake Valley delivery routes and more than 100 drivers. But after the Christmas rush, Amazon made deep cuts. 

“Amazon reduced our number of routes by more than half in January, from 48 to just 20,” Josh Armstrong said. “Unfortunately, we had to let a lot of drivers go. Our current employee count is 67; 59 of them drivers.”

Dan Armstrong’s association with Amazon provided a windfall recently to Taylorsville City. The company’s massive Salt Lake distribution hub (called “SLC1-Amazon Fulfillment Center,” 620 South 5700 West) ended up with more COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) than it needed.

“[Operations Manager] Blake was at the distribution hub when he heard they had thousands of leftover PPE kits and were asking if anyone wanted them,” Dan Armstrong said. “Amazon has been providing kits to their hubs weekly and they had extras. Blake called me, and I told him to gather them all, knowing we could distribute them to many places in Taylorsville. We ended up with about 11,000 PPE kits.”

Each so-called “kit” contains two masks, two pairs of gloves, a small bottle of hand sanitizer and dour individually wrapped sanitary wipes. Armstrong estimates the kits value at “$3 to $5,” making the total donation $33,000 to $55,000.

“We took a bunch of kits to Kearns Elementary, Eisenhower Junior High and Taylorsville High to begin with,” Dan Armstrong said. “We planned to deliver kits to all of the Taylorsville schools, along with police and fire stations, the senior center and other places.”

To assist with the PPE distribution, Dan Armstrong solicited help from Taylorsville Youth Council members and their adviser, Kris Heineman.

“The youth council has never distributed PPE before, but they were glad to help out,” Heineman said. “I know the people receiving these donations have all been very excited. Dan Armstrong and Amazon both deserve a lot of credit for putting this donation together.”

Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson was also excited to hear about the out-of-the-blue donation.

“These PPE kits are going to have an incredible impact, especially at our schools,” she said. “I just took a bunch over to the senior center. It is still closed, but they are handing the kits out as people drive through to pick up food. We’re just going to see how far the kits will spread. They are going to people from kindergarten to seniors. I think the donation is amazing.”

Perhaps it’s not Jeff Bezos $188 billion amazing, but the PPE donation appears to be a welcome boost in several corners of Taylorsville.

As for the future of Armstrong Logistics LLC, Dan and Josh say they are learning the ropes about product deliver and might one day consider expanding to serve other businesses in addition to Amazon. But, at the moment, that’s not yet possible.

“Amazon keeps adjusting our route schedules, and we also have constant delivery truck maintenance challenges,” Josh Armstrong said. “We are giving long-term thought to expanding our company but just aren’t ready to do it right now. We’ll see what happens down the road.”

Dan Armstrong is grateful for how this unexpected venture is working out so far.

“Josh and Blake are putting in all the real time (operating the company), while I just offer advice once in a while,” he said. “It’s fun to work with my son and nephew. It’s been a good project. As far as the future [of Armstrong Logistics LLC], that will be more up to them than me.”

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