As the Christmas season comes to a close, gifts by the thousands will need to be returned to retail companies across the country. Some of those gifts might even find their way to Sunland Logistics Solutions’ Return Center on Wade Hampton Boulevard before being shipped back to the proper retailer.
The company was started in 1982 as Sunland Distribution Inc. by founder Sam Cole. He sought to become a successful local public warehouse provider.
“We’re a Greenville-based business, we love the Upstate, we love the manufacturing base here,” says current CEO Arch Thomason, who purchased the company in 2009. He adds that Greenville has been a great place to grow the company and that finding talent has not been a problem.
Sunland currently employs more than 500 workers across a little over 4 million square feet in facilities across the Southeast. Of that footage, 2.4 million square feet is located in South Carolina.
“[Sunland is] what’s called a 3PL or a third-party logistics company,” says Thomason. “We provide supply chain solutions to companies. We provide warehousing, we provide transportation services to a lot of big manufacturing companies.”
Those companies belong to a few different Sunland verticals including automotive, retail, chemical, industrial or consumer goods, according to Thomason. Many of Sunland’s clients are Fortune 500 companies.
The past year has been a challenging time for the world of e-commerce, Thomason notes.
“COVID has really affected or impacted the supply chain,” he says. About 15% of sales are done online. The pandemic has changed that dramatically. People no longer want to go to the store out of concern for their health, he says.
“When you buy something at the mall, or what I would call a general transaction, you’re probably 3 to 4% likely to return it,” says Thomason. “If you buy it online, you’re about 15% likely to return it. So think about all of that product coming back into the customer that sold it to them.”
This results in almost four times the amount of items now being returned. It’s this opportunity that Sunland has grasped as it turns to warehouse returns.
Thomason is also adamant that besides seizing an opportunity for a focus on returns is good business, so is a focus on diversity. He mentions the diverse leadership of Sunland and says that the business case for diversity is real and important and that he’s seen it in action. “It’s a different way to look at things. And I just think it adds value.”
He says: “We’re not just talking, we’re walking the walk.