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In Silicon Valley, how a black-owned trucking business managed – and survived – during the COVID-19 pandemic


For nearly two decades, Maurice Brewster built Mosaic Global Transportation into a multi-million dollar business based in Silicon Valley, with some of the largest tech companies as clients.

Then comes March 2020 and the pandemic coronavirus. Technology and other large companies have sent their workers home. Concerts, weddings, conferences and airport pick-ups have been canceled. Mosaic’s fleet of shuttles, trucks and other vehicles – with more than 1,000 on its global network, including 97 in Silicon Valley – have nowhere to go.

Brewster, CEO of San Jose, Calif., Company, said: “When the business closes, our business is shut down.


Mosaic has tried its best to keep as many of the workers employed in the past year as possible, but the company still has to lay off or add 40% to its 100+ employees.

But thanks to help from various sources, the hard work of Brewster and his wife Rhonda, the company’s president, and one or two pivots, Mosaic managed to keep going.

Now, with some of the company’s businesses back and a new venture involving electric vehicles, Brewster says he’s “seeing the light at the end of the tunnel”.

Mosaic has tried its best to keep as many workers employed in the past year as possible, but the company still has to lay off or add 40% more of its 100+ employees. Ronnie Sanchez was working in the charter department when a pandemic struck, and was one of the workers laid off in May. But Mosaic brought him back in July as a backup driver for Apple Inc.
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Now, Sanchez has been promoted to operations director. Mosaic continued to pay subsidies to his family “and did not charge me a penny” while he was fired, Sanchez said. “Mo and Rhonda are always optimistic, trying and finding ways to keep the business growing. I see it continuously. They don’t just do it for themselves. They are doing it for us too. “

Turn around in a pandemic

So how do they do that?

Along with a PPP loan, Mosaic’s relationships with some of its largest corporate clients have helped keep this activity afloat. Brewster says some companies have paid off their contracts by the end of 2020, even though his driver doesn’t send customers to their jobs.

Nondisclosure agreements don’t let him talk too much about that, but MarketWatch has previously reported that tech giants like Facebook Inc.
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Google
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and Apple pledges it will compensate its service personnel.

Coming to the rescue during the pandemic was the Accion Opportunity Fund, a community development finance institution, or CDFI, that helped Brewster found Mosaic years ago – when he said no traditional banks would give a Blacks borrowed to build a ground transport business with potentially devalued assets. like transportation.


The company explored deliveries and also worked with hospitals and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to transport healthcare staff.

Early in the pandemic, AOF deferred payments on a loan so that “we can take our breath and put the revenue we get into our paychecks and continuing health insurance,” says Brewster. .

CDFI also helped Mosaic “share our story as a Black-owned business that weathered a global epidemic during a racist summer,” he said, helping his company. He got new business.

Mosaic has tried other ways to maintain revenue, including exploring full-package delivery services and working with hospitals and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to transport healthcare staff.

While Facebook
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Having not yet begun to bring employees back to work in large numbers, the company is offering vaccination services on its large campus in Menlo Park, Calif.

Mosaic and its employees are volunteering to bring people from underserved communities to the tech giant’s vaccination clinic on Saturdays in April, a project that Sanchez has been working on.

“That makes me happy – not only because we’re able to provide those cars for free, but also to help our employees volunteer,” says Brewster.

Facebook is one of Mosaic’s biggest customers, he said.


Between shipping San Jose City College athletes to games, and ongoing wine tours and events, about 20% of Mosaic’s business is back. .

There are other opportunities ahead: As more people get vaccinated and businesses bring their employees back into the office, Brewster hopes to be able to reassign more of the employees his company had to lay off. or lay off. Between shipping San Jose City College athletes to games, and ongoing wine tours and events, about 20% of Mosaic’s business is up and running. again.

“There’s still a long way to go, but as companies start to open, we expect that number to skyrocket,” said Brewster. Corporate customers – which account for more than 80% of Mosaic’s business – are contacting him about resigning their employees, he added.

Several major tech companies in Silicon Valley and elsewhere have announced that they will at least partially return to work in the near future, including Facebook, where their employees may work at some office for several weeks, and Google
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said they plan to bring some staff back this month.

Microsoft Corporation
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Uber Technologies Inc.
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Salesforce.com Inc.
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and others have also announced plans for some of their employees to return to the office.

In addition to preparing for the initial business revival, Mosaic just announced a new business project this week. It is establishing Mosaic EV, in partnership with Fairway EV truck dealer and manufacturer Tropos Technologies Inc., to lease or sell customizable low-speed electric vehicles to colleges, universities, and other places. Others are converting to more electric vehicles.

Stanford University has leased some vehicles for its maintenance team to use, says Brewster.

“We are finding this opportunity to gather information about Mosaic’s company and the world with the EV technology of startup Tropos,” he said. We hope it bears fruit ”.

Related reading: How long will employees unable to work from the Silicon Valley home will continue to be paid?

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