United Parcel Service Essay

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United Parcel Service, Inc., a courier company using the trademark UPS, was established on August 28, 1907, in Seattle, Washington, by 19-year-old James E. “Jim” Casey (1888–1983) and his 18-year-old friend Claude Ryan. Casey’s father, Henry, an immigrant from Ireland who worked as a quartz miner, had died when he was young, and as the oldest of four children in the family, he found work as a delivery boy in Seattle. However, his mother, Annie, who had been born in Massachusetts, the daughter of Irish immigrants, encouraged him to run his own company.

Humble Beginnings

It was originally known as the American Messenger Company, and the two teenagers borrowed $100 to start it up. The business was involved in delivering parcels and letters, which included baggage from train stations, notes, and even food from restaurants. Casey stated that the company offered the “best service and lowest rates.” Casey paid his younger brothers, Henry and George, until Henry started to work as a chauffeur for a real estate company, and George later found work as a clerk in a steamship company. However, they did work with other teenagers to make their deliveries. Some went on foot, while others used bicycles or motorcycles.

In 1913, when they bought a Model-T Ford, Casey and Ryan decided to merge with a competitor, Evert McCabe, who ran Motorcycle Messengers. The combined operation was called Merchants Parcel Delivery. They also introduced a system of combining the delivery service of packages to particular neighborhoods. In 1918, the trio hired a new employee, Charles W. Soderstrom, who ran their deliveries and started introducing more cars to the business. The reputation was soon sufficient for three of the main department stores in Seattle to use the company for its deliveries. In the following year, the business was so successful that they decided to add service to cover Oakland, California. Because of the increasing delivery network, they renamed the company United Parcel Service.

A New Name—United Parcel Service

The introduction of the common carrier service in 1922 allowed for much cheaper and, for some people, more convenient collections and deliveries. This involved having automatic daily collections, several attempts to deliver parcels, and automatic return of undeliverable mail. In this, the company was able to vastly improve its service by use of the telephone.

In 1930, UPS started running a service in New York, and by this time, it had started using a variety of services—its own and those of others—to cover the mainland United States, with large operations throughout the East Coast states. It was not long before the company’s headquarters moved to New York City. During the 1940s and 1950s, the delivery service was expanded to allow UPS to cover addresses anywhere in the mainland United States, with the service being improved by the introduction of Blue Label Air service, which offered speedy delivery. In 1961, the company started using the package and shield trademark that was designed by Paul Rand, and it remained in use until 2003.

In 1975, UPS expanded service to Canada with the creation of UPS Ltd., later UPS Canada Ltd., which operated from its headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario. This proved successful, and in the following year, UPS began a domestic service in West Germany. In 1982, UPS Blue Label Air became UPS 2nd-Day Air Service, and six years later, as the amount of business increased, UPS established its own UPS Airlines.

Moving toward retail business, UPS acquired Mail Boxes Etc., Inc., in 2001, and the company has made heavy use of the internet, allowing customers to check delivery rates and track their packages. It has also enlarged its two main air hubs in Louisville, Kentucky, and in Cologne, Germany, adding to them a new office in Guangzhou, China. UPS has now grown to become the largest express carrier and package delivery company in the world, and also helps provide specialized transportation and logistics advice. It operates throughout the world, having an office in nearly every country, exceptions being places such as Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City, which are well covered by services in nearby countries, and countries such as Afghanistan, in which parcel delivery is not practical.


  1. David A. Garvin and Lynne C. Levesque, Strategic Planning at United Parcel Service (Harvard Business School, 2006);
  2. Thomas J. Heitert, Part-Time Management Perceptions of the Current Safety Culture in the Operations Organization at United Parcel Service (University of Central Missouri, 2008);
  3. Rodrigo Merino, United Parcel Service Package Flow Technologies Implementation (California Polytechnic State University, 2007);
  4. Greg Niemann, Big Brown: The Untold Story of UPS (Wiley, 2007);
  5. UPS, www.ups.com (cited March 2009).

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