Transporting store products has been difficult for many small and local businesses during the pandemic.
A Southfield-based delivery service, called I’ll Go Get It, saw an opportunity to change that — and grow its own business.
Their plan? Build partnerships with local and small brick-and-mortar businesses to help them quickly get products from shelves to consumers — still aware of COVID-19 risks — so they can compete with stores like Amazon and Walmart.
What’s special about the company, known as IGGI, is that they train their most recent hires — mostly interns — to become full-time employees.
Jon Johnson, co-owner of I’ll Go Get It, started the delivery service with Tonya Carter and Tim Hall. The idea for starting the company came about in 2018 and it focuses on Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.
“We actually got the idea from reading a lot of newspapers a couple years or so ago and watching a lot of small businesses close their doors,” said Johnson, who also owns Potty Products, which sells toilet paper to retailers and wholesalers.
“I had an aha moment,” Johnson said. “Some of the partners who are affiliated logistically, we had conversations about it and decided one way to help retailers would be to give them the opportunity to deliver same day and next day.”
By visiting the company’s website, illgogetit.com, retailers can sign up to utilize the delivery service. Retailers must have a web store to utilize the service in addition to having a brick and mortar store.
The company has 10 technology employees and 20 delivery drivers. The company is continually hiring new employees as it builds connections with other businesses, including shopping centers and malls.
‘My bosses really care whether I succeed’
Kelvin Blakes Sr., Nia Adams and Devin Dubose all started as interns in the summer of 2020, when they trained for eight weeks then were hired as full-time employees in mid-October.
“Upon entering and meeting my fellow coworkers, I started to develop a close bond with them and being able work and learn, too,” Dubose said. “I think that was one of the best benefits of this job. You learn new things each and every day. This job is more than just a job — it’s a life experience.”
The internship program is special to Adams because of the caring that the former interns receive. With the delivery business being Black-owned, Adams, who is Black, says the company takes the extra steps to make sure she and the other employees learn life skills and how to do the job.
“I feel as though I’m in an environment where my bosses really care whether I succeed or not,” Adams said. “Yes, I have to do my job, be good at it and follow the rules. However, they would like me to be successful. It’s a very caring and nurturing environment and they want us to grow.”
After the first group of interns left college, they all found the company as a great learning resource — the perfect place for their first jobs. Blakes said the inclusive environment brought in people of all backgrounds.
“They are fostering leaders,” said Blakes. “With this company, it’s more than just focused on revenue. It’s focused on the employees — creating opportunities to help increase the skills and the capabilities of each employee.”
Expanding delivery for local businesses
About 40 stores have signed on for services from the company, and the delivery operations started Dec. 1.
Johnson has a goal to get more customers to shop locally instead of purchasing from stores such as Walmart or Amazon. He said people shop at those stores because they deliver fast, so it’s important for IGGI to assist local businesses in the same process.
“If we could have that same kind of speed and service in our local communities, I think more people would support their local environment,” Johnson said.
Amid COVID-19 safety concerns, Johnson said he feels that the delivery companies will be vital to the continued success of local businesses.
“I think with the pandemic, a lot of retailers and mall owners have to realize, moving forward, there’s a certain percentage of the population that’s just not coming,” said Johnson. “For some owners, the notion is that delivery decreases traffic in the mall because they want people to come. Again, there’s a certain percentage that’s just not coming, even when things open back up.”
He said local businesses will see sales rise by using the delivery services.
Susan Kurzer, customer service representative at IGGI, said things are changing for retailers, and the company is hoping to assist with that.
To capitalize on those changes, IGGI hopes to expand delivery north and west of Southfield, and eventually make their delivery service available in all 50 states.
“When it comes to COVID, everything is going online,” Kurzer said. “We’re that resolution of keeping the small businesses and the brick and mortar stores still open.”