Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, April 21, 2023

Couriers still serve in email world

A Blue Sky Couriers driver delivers a document to a Chattanooga law firm. - Photo by David Laprad | Hamilton County Herald

People sometimes ask Blue Sky Couriers operations manager Kevin Beirne if runners are still necessary in an age when documents can be broken down into bits and bytes and delivered at the speed of light over a fiber optic internet connection.

The fleet of 25 Blue Sky drivers in Chattanooga serves as an emphatic yes, Beirne says.

“There are things that can’t be delivered electronically. For example, we delivered a letter for a Chattanooga law firm yesterday. The attorneys had been having trouble contacting a certain person and they wanted us to deliver a physical note to a specific location and take a picture of it in the door if no one answered. They wanted the judge to know they made every possible attempt to contact the person.”

Attorney Michael Holloway of Litchford, Pearce & Associates ordered the delivery and says the service was invaluable.

“I had a response to a motion we were serving on an opposing party. This particular opposing party has, frankly, been less than candid about their receipt of pleadings, and I wanted to guarantee they received our response,” Holloway says.

“I wasn’t sure what to do until I remembered Kevin and Blue Sky Couriers. I called Kevin at 2:30 p.m. inquiring what sort of notice he needed to start the request, and his response was, ‘Send me an email and we’ll make it happen.’

“I told him I needed a courier at my office by 4:30 p.m. and she arrived 15 minutes early and confirmed delivery of the document before 5 p.m.

“I was pleased with the prompt response from Kevin and the immediate attention to the delivery. Being with a firm that doesn’t have runners on staff, the services Blue Sky Couriers offers are invaluable.”

Blue Sky doesn’t stop at delivering letters, Beirne continues. From submitting court filings on time, to rushing contracts to another firm or company, to transporting items a decedent has bequeathed to an heir, the company places no limits on the (legal) cargo it will convey, he says.

“In the courier world, as soon as we say we’ve never done something, we’ll get a call the following week asking us to do it.”

Although the laws of physics – and traffic regulations – prevent Blue Sky’s Chattanooga drivers from delivering a document as quickly as EPB’s fiber optics can, Beirne says the company specializes in on-demand deliveries.

“Call us, or place an order online, and we’ll dispatch a driver. They’ll typically be there within the hour.”

In other words, Beirne jokes, think of Blue Sky as Door Dash for documents.

Just don’t compare his crew to drivers who show up in a faded T-shirt and raggedy jeans and hand you the wrong food before speeding off, Beirne laughs.

“When our drivers make a delivery, they’re representing the law firm that ordered the service. So our drivers wear a Blue Sky uniform and present themselves professionally.”

Blue Sky’s local clientele includes not just law firms but also real estate brokerages, hospitals, medical offices and more. Beirne likes to tell the story about the time he was working as a driver in Chattanooga and transported an organ to a hospital in Charleston, South Carolina.

“I received the call around midnight and watched the sun rise in Charleston,” he recalls with a smile. “I enjoyed being a part of the life-saving process.”

Blue Sky is a Memphis-based company that also operates in Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga and a handful of locations out of state, with 150 drivers delivering on-demand 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The company started small in 1998, with its three founders giving its drivers better pay than the industry standard.

“The drivers are the ones who come in contact with the customers,” Beirne explains. “Treating your drivers better leads to treating your customers better, which leads to growth.”

The founders of Blue Sky focused on prompt, dependable service, Beirne says, and relied on positive word-of-mouth to fuel the company’s growth.

Blue Sky also launched Couriers for Kids, a program through which the company donates 1 cent for every mile its drivers tally to a nonprofit that’s impacting the health and well-being of children.

“We love to give back and be a part of our community,” Beirne adds. (Since making its first delivery in Chattanooga five years ago, Blue Sky has donated $15,000 to local charities, or 1 cent for each of the 1.5 million miles its drivers have traversed.)

By 2018, Blue Sky was ready to expand to Chattanooga.

To encourage local attorneys to use its services, Blue Sky has hammered out a deal with the Chattanooga Bar Association that discounts deliveries to the tune of 10 cents per mile. In addition, the starting rate is $15 instead of $18.

Beirne says Blue Sky offers laws firms a number of benefits beyond lower rates, such as saving a practice the cost of payrolling a runner.

For firms that prefer to employ a runner, Beirne says Blue Sky can serve as an additional resource for when the courier is tied up but the practice needs to make additional deliveries.

“We want to be a resource for however a firm need us to help them with its operations.”