Founded in 1907 as a messenger company in the US, UPS has grown substantially into a multi-billion dollar corporation. Today UPS is a global company with one of the most recognized and admired brands in the world. They are the world’s largest packaging and Delivery Company and a leader of transportation and logistics services. Every day they manage the flow of goods to more than 200 countries worldwide.
In 1907 there was a great need of private messenger and delivery services in America. A young entrepreneur named James E. (Jim) Casey, borrowed $100 dollars from a friend and established the American Messenger Company in Seattle, Washington. Six years before the US Parcel Post system was established, messengers would run errands, deliver packages, carry notes, baggage, and deliver food from restaurants. Most of the deliveries were made on foot, and bicycle for longer trips, because there were few automobiles in existence and horse and wagons were many used for deliveries to department stores.
At only 19 years of age Jim and his partner Claude Ryan ran the service, taking phone calls within their basement. The company did well despite stiff competition, according to accounts that there were quite a few messenger services already in the area, some of which Jim had worked for in the past. The messengers were a handful of teenagers including Jim’s younger brother George, these messengers ran off very strict policy of customer courtesy, reliability, round the clock service and low rates. These same principles guide UPS today, and are summarized by Jim’s slogan: best service and lowest rates.
Between 1913 and1918 the company focused on package delivery for retail stores. The year in 1913 brought several significant changes, as improvements of the automobile and telephone were causing a decline in the messenger business. For the next two years their biggest client was the US Post Office, for which they delivered all special delivery mail entering the Seattle area. During this period the company started combining packages addressed to a certain neighborhood on to one delivery vehicle. Doing this enabled them to use manpower and motorized equipment more efficiently while still keeping up their low rates principle.
Also during these times, Jim agreed to merge with competitor Evert (Mac) McCabe. The merge reflected a shift in the primary focus of the business form messages to packages and created a new name: Merchants Parcel Delivery. The young company built a strong reputation among stores in the city, and by 1918 three of Seattle’s largest department stores had become regular customers. Due to their high standard of service and personalized attention to every package handled many stores got rid of their own delivery cars, some of which Jim would purchase and slap the name Merchants Parcel Delivery on the side.
In 1919 the company adopted its current name the United Parcel Service, and made its first expansion beyond Seattle to Oakland, California. “United” served as a reminder that the companies operating in each city were part of the same organization, “Parcel” identified the nature of the business, and “Service” indicated what was offered. In 1922 they introduced their innovative “common carrier” service that they acquired in a company in Los Angeles. This new common carrier service included automatic daily pickup, acceptance of checks made out to the shipper, and weekly billing. UPS was one of the few companies in the U.S. to offer common carrier service at the time. In 1924 they created another technological that would shape their future, by introducing the first conveyor belt system for handling packages.
The retail delivery service had also expanded to include all the major cities on the U.S. Pacific Coast. It wasn’t until 1930 that UPS extended its reach to the East Coast when it began consolidating the deliveries of several large department stores in the New York area. During WWII, there were shortages of fuel and rubber which influenced retail stores to restrict their delivery services and encourage customers to carry home their packages. The trend continued after the war, throughout the 1930s and 40s they had continued to expand their retail store services, though by the early 50s it was clear that contract service to retail stores was limited.
In 1952 UPS decided to expand its services by acquiring “common carrier” rights to deliver packages between all customers. This placed UPS in competition with the U.S. Postal Service, and in direct opposition to the regulations of the Interstate Commerce Commission or the (ICC). So they decided to begin common carrier operations in cities where they could do so without authority. In order to satisfy the growing public demand for their services, they went before regulatory commissions and courts to obtain certification to operate over wide areas.
It wasn’t long until UPS provided air service through privately operated aircrafts in 1953. They tried this in the past in the year 1929 but due to a lack of volume the service had to end the same year. When they began their air operations, they offered two-day service to major cities along the east and west coasts. It wasn’t until 1979 when air service was available in every state, between the 1950s and 70s the company was still restricted from operating in many parts of the country and fighting with the ICC to freely ship in all states. In 1975 was when they were first able to serve all 48 contiguous United States, and now available coast to coast and all around the world. Before this was available senders sometimes had to transfer a package between several carriers before the package reached its final destination.
Because demand for air delivery was increasing during the 1980s UPS began to assemble its own jet cargo fleet. In 1985, UPS entered the overnight air delivery business, due to the growing demand for faster service. By 1988 UPS, officially became an airline, after they received authorization from the FAA to operate their own aircraft. The UPS Airlines was one of the fastest growing airlines in history and today is one of the 10 largest airlines in the United States, and features some of the most advance operating systems in the world and operates in more than 200 countries and territories. `By 1993 UPS was delivering 11.5 million packages a day, and with such a high volume they had to develop new technology. That’s when they came up with the handheld Delivery Acquisition Device that we see every UPS delivery driver using. It was developed to record and upload data to the UPS network, so customers can have real-time information about their packages, in case of any change in schedule or delays. It wasn’t until 1994 that UPS.com went live, allowing for customers to be able to track their packages. Then in 1995 they became the first company to allow same day departure and over-night deliveries.
Over the past 100 years, UPS has become an expert in transportation growing from a small messenger company to a leading provider in air, ocean, ground, and electronic services. The company maintains its reputation for integrity, reliability, employee ownership and customer service. As the world’s largest package delivery company and leading global provider of specialized transportation and logistics services, UPS continues to develop the frontiers of logistics, supply chain management and e-commerce, by combining the flows of goods information and funds.
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