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As the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) soared in response to the coronavirus pandemic, an unlikely source stepped up – a footwear manufacturer. Oliberté, a global manufacturer of handcrafted footwear based in Ontario, Canada, solely produced footwear before the pandemic. However, as the world changed, the company’s goal of putting people first remained as it prepared to meet North America’s demand for PPE.
President and Founder of Oliberté, Tal Dehtiar, quickly decided to put the company’s handcrafted boots on the back shelf when the pandemic began and started making changes to his manufacturing business to instead produce safety masks.
“We shifted business and partnered with safety mask manufacturers overseas,” says Dehtiar. “When it was safe to do so, we redeployed employees in other parts of the world to start producing the masks, then began navigating how to transport the masks into the United States and Canada.”
Dehtiar says Landstar was his first call because of his previous experiences with independent Landstar Agent Yevgeny Vishnever in moving the company’s shoes via Landstar’s less-than-truckload (LTL) and truckload services.
At the height of the pandemic, together, the Ontario-based agent and Landstar’s international services team planned the transport of 15 expedited air shipments aboard three chartered flights for Oliberté.
“The first air freight shipments of the safety masks from China happened in March 2020 at the beginning of the lockdown in the United States. Landstar’s international and air logistics team worked closely with Oliberté and the agent to coordinate each shipment for its final destination,” explains Alberto Maldonado, vice president of international and air operations at Landstar. “Even with unique challenges posed by the lockdown, the Landstar team executed an around-the-clock plan to handle these essential shipments. We scheduled expedited air freight on chartered flights, performed the necessary customs clearance, and then readied each truckload of masks for transport into the United States and Canada.”
“More than 10 million safety masks were moved in March and April from our facilities overseas into North America thanks to Landstar’s support,” explains Dehtiar. “The shipments provided protection to U.S. and Canadian essential workers in the restaurant and services industries, government buildings and in long-term health care facilities.”
Shortly after the initial shipments of safety masks were delivered throughout North America, Oliberté began executing its plans to shift its business further by outfitting a manufacturing facility in Canada to produce safety masks.
“We arranged a transportation plan to ship everything they would need to outfit the new facility,” says Ron Kuperberg, vice president and general manager of Canadian Operations at Landstar. “Equipment, machinery and all of the raw materials from all over the world were shipped by cargo vessel and then transported by truck into Canada.”
“As our Landstar non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC) specialists planned the logistics, transport and customs clearance for the freight overseas, we were in close contact with Landstar Agent Yevgeny Vishnever who simultaneously planned the truckload capacity needed to support the shipments. When the cargo vessels arrived in the United States, they were immediately transloaded onto trucks to cross the border into Canada,” says Maldonado. In just four weeks, the Landstar team planned the international logistics for eight shipments aboard five cargo ships, provided complete customs clearance for the shipments, and coordinated the transloading of four shipments trucked into Canada.
Having experienced nearly all of Landstar’s North American and global services, Dehtiar says the support Oliberté received with every air, ocean and ground transport was pivotal to the company’s success with shifting business during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The road isn’t always easy and perfect, but the Landstar team found a way to make it work despite the obstacles,” says Dehtiar. “Landstar has been a critical part of making every shipment a success through to its final destination.”
Oliberté’s New Normal
In addition to the 10 million masks Oliberté imported at the beginning of the pandemic, the shoe company has produced more than two million medical and non-medical safety masks at its manufacturing facility in Canada.
As the focus on mask manufacturing continues at Oliberté, the company plans to purchase the machinery and materials needed to produce even more safety masks, and has asked Landstar to facilitate the shipment of the products into Canada. The new machinery will allow Oliberté to produce up to 5 million safety masks every month.
“We are proud to support Oliberté’s growing business with Landstar’s transportation solutions,” explains Kuperberg. “Especially knowing that our efforts put Oliberté at the ready to support people who need personal protective equipment.”
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Watch as the international flights Landstar chartered for Oliberté are loaded for delivery: