In an era marked by labour scarcity, a new company has devised a unique business model that employs people with disability in roles that empower them to make the most of their unique talents while guaranteeing top-flight 3PL services for its clients. MHD finds out more.
It’s long been the aspiration of companies – in the logistics industry as in others – to do well by doing good, as the adage goes.
Easier said than done, of course.
On one end, many companies who stand out for the products and services they provide are now scrambling to strengthen their broader corporate social responsibility credentials. And on the other end, there exist many organisations who are charities first and commercial ventures second.
But is it possible to combine the two? Is it possible to combine genuinely good business with genuinely effective philanthropic enterprise that makes a tangible and long-lasting difference to people’s lives?
Introducing Sendable, a first of its kind company and social enterprise that provides top-tier 3PL services while creating employment and career opportunities for people with disability in jobs that maximise their performance and potential – often outpacing the productivity of those without disability working the exact same jobs in an ordinary 3PL.
“We have an inclusive workforce that values individuals of all abilities,” says Declan Fischart, CEO of Sendable. “What’s surprising to many people – although it wasn’t a surprise to us – is that many of our supported team members can have the ability to outperform traditional warehouse workers. Their enthusiasm for their roles is a driving factor in that.”
Sendable offers its workers a wide range of tasks and roles to cater to varying abilities and aims to uplift their skills continuously. From sorting and e-commerce pick and pack tasks to handling bulky items to operating machinery, Sendable’s employees showcase a range of competencies – including talents either unavailable to or not valued in ordinary companies.
“Some of our team members have exceptional memory skills, enabling them to remember intricate product details that augment our processes,” Declan says.
“Our main aim is to challenge existing perceptions about what individuals with disability can achieve. We’ve seen our employees handle tasks that many deemed impossible for them – breaking barriers and assumptions along the way.”
According to Sendable’s Non-Executive Board Director, Archie Garcia, the company asked itself a straightforward question when framing its mission: ‘Why not?’
“Why not employ people with disability for the specific functions in which they can not only succeed as well – sometimes better – than workers without disability, but can continuously develop up the career ladder to have a successful and fulfilling career? And – in an era where labour scarcity is an ever-present concern – why not avail ourselves of a pool of very talented workers who have traditionally been overlooked?”
The ‘Why not?’ question was posed to Sendable’s founders – Declan and his wife Chloe Fischart, Founder of Sendable – in an acute and personal form when their son was diagnosed with autism and ADHD.
“We founded the company in 2019, shortly after our son’s diagnosis,” says Chloe. “Early on we faced a lot of negative feedback about his prospects in schooling and future employment. This prompted us to delve deeper into understanding the employment landscape for individuals with disabilities. We discovered numerous barriers, including companies unwilling to adapt to the needs of these individuals.”
Declan has deep experience in logistics and supply chain, including work for Louis Dreyfus Commodities, where he oversaw cotton exports for Australia, as well as experience in e-commerce high growth businesses and other B2B e-commerce ventures.
Chloe has strong technical expertise – with a resume including technology consulting for Deloitte and experience in an Australian based global fund management company.
Having identified – while considering their son’s future prospects – some obvious shortcomings in the ways contemporary society and organisations relate to those with disability, the pair resolved to be the change they wanted to see in the world.
With their combined expertise, Chloe and Declan saw third-party logistics as an obvious candidate for creating a commercial venture that also served a social enterprise initiative empowering those with disability.
Thus, Sendable was born.
THE HUMAN FACTOR
Running an effective, top-tier, commercial enterprise that can match performance levels of leading 3PL players while simultaneously catering to a physically- and neuro-diverse pool of workers might seem a tall order. But with seasoned pros like Chloe, Declan, Archie, and the rest of the leadership team in place, the operational side is less of a challenge than some might suspect.
“We know how to perform our roles efficiently,” Archie says. “Declan and Chloe have been doing this kind of thing for years. They know logistics like the backs of their hands. The key challenge for us initially was envisioning possibilities for a very diverse group of people.”
Once potential team members join Sendable there’s a rigorous process to ensure they fit the culture. After identification, Sendable focuses on enablement, which extends beyond mere training.
“Our aim is to cultivate long-term relationships rather than treating team members as disposable resources,” Archie says. “Declan and Chloe have fostered an environment where employees don’t simply have work, but also feel empowered to grow and become self-sufficient.
“It’s the human factor that sets us apart.”
Sendable is a young company, having only started in 2019 with just 154 pallet spaces in Tingalpa, QLD. But four years later, it presents a footprint of 63,000 square metres nationally, with multiple distribution centres across various cities.
“Our expansion is ongoing,” says Declan. “We’re exploring opportunities in Auckland and China. Our partners value us for the genuine value we provide as a 3PL, as well as the benefits we provide our employees and the broader community. This includes other 3PLs partnering with us.
“Part of the reason we’ve taken off is that we’re not a charity. Charities do amazing and necessary work, but we’re doing something different. We’re a top 3PL and we are developing capabilities that match and go beyond other major logistics providers. But our business model means we provide excellent value to clients at the same time we make a real difference in the lives of those with disability. That’s an attractive combination for our customers and partners.”
WHAT THE CLIENTS SAY
MHD asked the Sendable team whether there’s any difficulty in persuading those who might traditionally favour a standard 3PL to give Sendable a go.
Not at all, says Chloe.
“Recently, we met with a client who mentioned that we offer a unique proposition in the 3PL market – and most times, we don’t compete but complement,” she says. “Every company nowadays has some sort of ESG component they’re working on. We can be that social component in their ESG strategy, helping them advance their goals. Our clients’ reception has been overwhelmingly positive. They’re eager to collaborate with us not only because we provide a top-shelf logistics service but because we make a meaningful difference in their communities.”
For those seeking to incorporate better ESG practices into their companies, Sendable provides obvious benefits on the social responsibility front.
“To emphasise the social impact, we produce Social Impact Reports for our clients,” Chloe says. “This allows them to see how many employment opportunities have been generated through our services. It offers transparency, showing the direct benefits of their partnership with us.”
Or as Declan puts it: “Our performance and the numbers we produce are comparable to other industry leaders. We offer excellent service quality and – often – superior flexibility in our capabilities. So, our clients gain immense social value without any additional costs.
“The way we’ve structured our business allows us to scale according to our customers’ needs. Whether it’s expanding our distribution network in China or taking on other big projects, we believe in our capability to deliver. Our team is skilled, and we don’t see any upper limit to what we can handle. Our goal is to grow sustainably on a global scale.”
Closing out our interview, Chloe shares a story that gets to the heart of the difference the company is making on the ground for people with disability.
“One employee joined us in June last year, and his lifelong ambition had always been to drive a forklift. Within months, he not only achieved that but went on further to be certified to operate a reach truck and also become an inventory controller for one of our key clients.
“There’s no upper limit to growth for our team members at Sendable. Seeing our people meet and exceed their own goals and continue growing ever upwards in their career trajectory is inspiring and has positive ramifications not only in their lives, but for their colleagues – including me, Archie, and Declan, our customers, and the community at large.”
For more information on Sendable, click here.