We deal with shipping challenges every time we receive an order for custom metal work.  Especially with large pieces.  This blog post explores recent challenges and opportunities we’ve encountered.

Shipping Challenges

When we started our business, the majority of our sales occurred at craft and art shows.  We had a few orders through our website, but the majority of custom orders were local.

Forward to today.  About 95 percent of our business comes from the website, as we no longer do shows.  When we calculate costs for larger custom pieces, we have to look at dimensions.  The difference between ground and freight shipping is cost prohibitive.  We will decrease the size of a piece to keep it within ground limits.

The other shipping challenges we face is how to package our custom metal art and signs.  Until recently, we never had an issue with damage.

Shipping Surprises

Within the hundreds of packages we shipped, we only had a couple of damage instances.  A pair of pliers corrected each case of damage.  And, we learned through the process.

The biggest surprise occurred earlier this year.  A piece of art sent to the Chicago area suffered a bent corner.  Now, we are talking 16 gauge steel that looked like it was dropped from two stories up.  We couldn’t have inflicted that type of damage if we tried.  We submitted a claim to FedEx and crossed our fingers.  And, we created a new piece for the customer and shipped it off.

The same exact issue occurred, only another corner was bent.  We submitted another claim to FedEx and double-crossed our fingers.

We refunded the money to our customer.  This experience did not bode well for shipping to this particular address.  They agreed.  Maybe in the future we would try again.

The big surprise?  We received checks from FedEx to cover our losses.  We were shocked and pleased.  And, that also told us they probably had an issue with a distribution center.

Shipping Opportunities

So, on to the opportunities.  We are always on the lookout for large pieces of cardboard.  We buy many of our boxes through Uline, but we usually end up altering them.  And, it takes Mike more time to box up the custom sizes.  We found a local Bend company that discards heavy cardboard.  And, they use a Redmond based supply company for custom boxes.

We contacted the company and hooked up with their rep.  His idea of how to ship our varying sized pieces made sense.  So, we toured the company yesterday and brought home some free material to try out.

Our first box created with the new method ships today.  We look forward to talking to our customer about how it worked for them.  If all goes well, this opportunity turns into success!

And, it takes less time to create the box.  And, a little less money.  A definite winner!