A Neighborhood Shipping Service With a Big Heart, Part 2
by Melissa LaScaleia
Frank Espinal, the owner of ShipOnSite, a neighborhood shipping business in Myrtle Beach, is an accomplished man. Since the army veteran turned entrepreneur opened his doors in 2007, he’s grown the ShipOnSite concept from three profit centers to seven to include an online auction site, where he sells your items for you on eBay; office related services; and PrintOnSite and GraphicsOnSite, which can develop any graphics for any type of media with their graphic designer on site.
“He’s the best graphic designer on the Grand Strand,” Franks tells me.
Concomitant with Frank’s passion for growing his business is his dedication to service.
“I think that businesses have a responsibility to give back to the community in whatever way they can,” he tells me.
Frank began his community involvement initially by acting as a sponsor for the Pet Adoption program in the Grand Strand; then he sponsored several different events to raise funds for U.S. service veterans.
“Most recently I’ve felt compelled to do something to assist with all the natural disasters that have occurred,” he says. “There’s no organization in trying to help people sometimes. But because I know logistics well, I know how to get things to where they need to go.”
During the month of October, Frank organized a relief drive to support those impacted by the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Although Frank was born in Pennsylvania, his family is originally from Puerto Rico, and he still has many family members there.
“It was a very emotional experience,” he tells me. “And when it happened, I wasn’t able to hear from them for two weeks, which was hard. But I felt like I needed to do something. And when I organized this, my feelings were more humbled, and my faith in humanity was restored a bit, because of the response I got. People who didn’t know me were coming to me with donations or to help.”
Frank’s friend, Verlon Wulf, owner of Carolina Cool, donated warehouse space where the relief items could be sorted, packaged, and prepared to be sent to Puerto Rico.
Frank contacted Vana White, who was born in North Myrtle Beach, on a Friday, to ask if she’d be the spokesperson for the drive. By Saturday morning, she had replied in the affirmative. The radio stations where Frank advertises, Easy 105.9/100.7, and The Tide 94.5 donated time on the air broadcasting her announcement to help kickstart it. Carolina Trust Federal Credit Union agreed to manage all the monetary funds, and used their Horry County branches as drop sites for material donations.
Optical Gallery in Carolina Forest was instrumental in helping with logistics. One of the owners, Efraim Ortiz, had connections in Puerto Rico, and reached out to Frank to help, so that they were able to ensure that aid was reaching the right people. Key also, was one of Frank’s family members, Ilka Soto-Battle, in Puerto Rico who is very active with humanitarian work. She organized many people in the area to offer relief, especially in places where no relief had been brought. She was eventually able to connect with the National Guard, and lead them to the remote mountain community of Utuado, where people needed help and had yet received none.
Frank shipped about twelve tons of aid, almost half of which went directly to Ilka, who distributed it throughout Utuado.
We have always helped,” Frank says simply. “We sent relief to West Virginia and Louisiana after the flooding, shipping around 20 pallets (which weighs about 2,000 lb) of water. After Hurricane Harvey, I donated over 1,000 boxes and all the tape to package the relief goods.
“When there’s a need, I act. Being your own boss has its own rewards. I just feel more a part of a community than I did working for a Fortune 500 company. Within the community is where I think I can make a difference.”