Solar Eclipse Shines Light on FedEx Customer
It’s been 99 years since the contiguous United States from coast to coast has experienced a total solar eclipse, an event in which the moon passes between the sun and the Earth and fully blocks the sun. While tens of millions of people in North America will be looking up at the sky on Monday, Aug. 21, dozens of employees at American Paper Optics have been heads down for years getting ready.
American Paper Optics, located outside of Memphis, Tenn., has sold more than 35 million pairs of eclipse glasses leading up to the big event and has made as many as 500,000 a day to keep up with the recent surge in demand.
“We’ve been working for three years to get people ready for this,” said Paulo Aur, CFO and COO of American Paper Optics. “It’s like everyone is doing their last minute Christmas shopping right now. We are getting 10,000 orders a day on our website, and the orders range from 25 pairs of eclipse glasses to 4,000-plus.”
As the world’s largest manufacturer of 3D and eclipse glasses, American Paper Optics ships their product all over the world to retailers, businesses-to-business (B2B) customers and even schools.
“Not only is this an historical event, it’s an educational and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) event for schools,” Aur said. “We want kids to experience this.”
Aur said they recently shipped an order of 75,000 eclipse glasses to a large university.
FedEx, which also calls Memphis home, has been helping American Paper Optics keep up with the high demand for the eclipse glasses.
“FedEx has trailers here at our facility, personnel scanning and filling up the trucks and taking them directly to the (FedEx) World Hub,” Aur said. “If you order glasses in the morning, they ship that afternoon. If you think about the quantity of orders we are getting, that still astonishes me.”
Katrina Carrigan, a business application advisor for FedEx, said she has been assisting American Paper Optics with their shipping and logistics needs for over 10 years. Up until a few weeks ago, she said the company had been using FedEx software to manually create and print labels. With the dramatic surge in sales leading up to the total solar eclipse event, Aur and his team needed help to expedite this process.
“Now they are using our integration assistant within the FSM (FedEx Ship Manager) software, which saves them valuable time,” Carrigan said.
American Paper Optics eclipse glasses filter out 100% of harmful ultra-violet and infrared rays and 99.9% of intensive visible light. The company is one of only a handful of NASA recommended vendors of solar filters. According to NASA, glasses designed specifically as solar filters, such as eclipse glasses, are necessary to safely enjoy the historical event on Monday.
“Our solar eclipse glasses are more than 1,000 times darker than sunglasses,” Aur said. “They are certified for direct observation of the sun. You use them to look at the sun and that’s the only thing you will see,” Aur said.
The upcoming total eclipse will reach Salem, Ore. at approximately 10:17 a.m. PDT on Aug. 21. It will later be visible in a handful of cities, including Lincoln, Neb., Nashville, Tenn., and Charleston, S.C. Although the band of totality is limited in the United States, everyone in North America will be able to experience at least a partial eclipse.
All will be quiet at American Paper Optics when the eclipse paints the sky black from coast to coast.
“We will be closed Monday so we can catch our breath,” Aur said. “A lot of us are going to Nashville to see the total eclipse.”