Amazon delivery truck drivers, honking as they entered the Amazon delivery station in South Hall, alerted workers of their arrival and that busy moments lie ahead.
Inside the facility at the Lanier Logistics Center, 5000 Lanier Islands Parkway, Buford, workers and drivers briskly pushed Amazon packages into vans, which then filed out of the building, on their way to area neighborhoods and businesses.
The process is what the online retail giant calls its “last mile” in getting packages delivered.
“Associates work in symphony with our back-end technology to sort packages by delivery route to maximize delivery efficiency,” Amazon spokeswoman Ashley Lansdale said.
Amazon, which gave The Times an inside look at the operation on Wednesday, Sept. 16, opened the South Hall plant earlier this summer as part of the company’s expansion in metro Atlanta in 2020. Mainly, the company was looking to speed up delivery of packages to homes and businesses.
Before orders head to buyers, they are filled and packaged up at fulfillment centers, such as one in Jefferson. Amazon trailer trucks, carrying more than 2,000 boxes at a time, bring orders from fulfillment centers to sortation centers, where packages are distributed by location and how fast they need to be delivered, according to the company.
From there, they are loaded onto anything from Amazon trucks and planes to carriers such as UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service. The ground delivery is handled by delivery stations like the one in Buford.
“As demand for deliveries grew, we saw an opportunity to empower small local and regional logistics businesses to deliver packages to Amazon customers,” Lansdale said.
Demand soared even before the pandemic changed shopping habits from trips to the store to tapping out orders on digital devices. The pandemic has only increased online buying, and that’s expected to ramp up during the holidays, Lansdale said.
The South Hall center, which occupies a huge corner of Lanier Islands Parkway/Ga. 347 at Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13, has about 150 employees now, working 10-hour shifts four days a week.
More employees could be soon filling up the building, as Amazon is "currently hiring for hundreds of full-time roles,” Lansdale said.
The company currently works with 10 delivery companies at the South Hall center – all of which hire their own employees.
Andrew Bostwick, who operates one of those companies, said the demand for deliveries is rising fast.
He has 82 drivers now, “and we’re going to be doubling that. We’re doing 40 routes and we’ll be doing 80 when we go into peak (months) going into Christmas.”
To find drivers, “primarily, we go to job boards,” Bostwick said. “Amazon does a good job of doing hiring events, as well.”
Those interested can apply through Amazon.com/apply.
Work at the center is performed with COVID-19 precautions in mind. Employees are required to wear masks, and social distancing of 6 feet or more is part of the culture throughout the building, down to the spacing of tables in the company breakroom.
While other companies have been downsizing or laying off during the pandemic, Amazon has been pushing ahead with hiring, even offering a $1,000 “sign-on bonus” in some locations, according to its website.
Dana Holbrook, who monitors people’s temperatures as they walk in the door, said she was able to move from a part-time job to full-time with benefits after her husband, an auto mechanic, lost his job in May.
“It’s been like a godsend,” the Monroe resident said of the opportunity.