United Parcel Service (UPS)
United Parcel Service (UPS), based in Atlanta since 1991, was established in Seattle, Washington, in 1907 as the American Messenger Company. Its financial backing was a mere $100, borrowed by the company's founder, Jim Casey. He soon began to expand the company's services from delivering simple messages to providing delivery of parcels for retail stores in the Seattle area.
This was a humble beginning for a company that in 2004 was a $31.3 billion corporation serving more than 200 countries and territories around the globe. UPS operates the largest single transportation network in the world, reaching more than 4 billion of the earth's 6.3 billion people to ensure timely delivery of more than 13.3 million packages each day. The muscle of this expansive system is a delivery fleet with nearly 88,000 vehicles, the world's eleventh-largest airline, more than 1,700 small-package facilities, and 360,000 employees around the world.
Delivering beyond the Parcel
Today, UPS is much more than the world's largest express carrier and package delivery company. It is also a leading provider of specialized transportation, logistics, consulting, e-commerce, technology, and even financial services.
Specifically, UPS offers industry-leading logistics solutions to coordinate order fulfillment, warehousing, supply chain management, critical parts repair and return, international custom brokerage services, and specialized small business services. UPS customers select from a wide array of products and services to streamline their business processes, develop new markets, nurture supplier relationships, and enhance their own customer service.
UPS in Georgia
UPS is the only delivery company to provide service to every street address in the United States, a feat that required achieving regulatory rights state by state. Therefore, UPS did not establish operations in Georgia until 1966. Since then UPS has established a powerful presence in the state's economy.
In 2003 UPS employed more than 12,000 workers in Georgia. Of those, some 7,900 employees worked in package delivery operations. Also dispersed throughout the state are 29 package centers and 4 distribution hubs that manage a delivery/air fleet of 1,732 package cars, 52 vans, and 185 tractors. UPS operates a key southeastern air-services gateway from Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and relies on important intermodal connections for package transfer from ground to rail in its complex integrated network.
UPS Makes Atlanta Its Hometown
When UPS decided to relocate its worldwide corporate headquarters, the company considered hundreds of towns and cities throughout the world. In the spring of 1991, after a quiet but comprehensive search, Kent "Oz" Nelson, then chair and chief executive officer, and the UPS Management Committee announced the selection of Atlanta as the new corporate office location.
The move from Greenwich, Connecticut, proved monumental not only for UPS but also for Atlanta. UPS eventually moved almost 1,000 people, who would purchase approximately 400 homes. About 400 employees were hired locally at the time, and more than 1,000 indirect jobs were created. All told, the move in its first year generated $325 million for Atlanta's economy. Over ten years the economic impact exceeded the initial $2 billion forecast.
The UPS headquarters complex in Sandy Springs (in north Fulton County) was designed by Atlanta architects Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback, and Associates and was completed in 1994. Unique construction methods left much of the thirty-six-acre forested site undisturbed. More than 2,000 employees work in two seven-story structures connected by a five-story atrium bridge that spans a ravine. Architectural and environmental features of the complex were designed to conserve energy.
UPS supports several subsidiary concerns, most of which are based in the metropolitan Atlanta area. The oldest is the UPS Foundation, founded in 1951, which identifies specific areas in which the company's support will clearly affect social issues. The foundation's major initiatives include programs that support increased nationwide volunteerism, family and workplace literacy, and food relief and rescue. UPS employees set the UPS Foundation's focus, and philanthropic efforts reflect the need employees see in the community every day. The foundation funds programs that can demonstrate positive changes for the people who need them most. From 1999 to 2002 the foundation contributed more than $38 million in Georgia through a variety of programs.
Through UPS Supply Chain Solutions, UPS offers distribution and logistics services, transportation services (ocean, rail, air, and over-the-road), freight forwarding and international trade management, customs brokerage, supply chain design, and service parts logistics. This allows the company to synchronize the movement of goods, information, and funds that streamline the business supply chain. UPS Supply Chain Solutions began in 2002 and in 2004 had 750 warehouses in 120 countries around the world.
Established in 1998, UPS Capital is the first complete supply-chain financing company with the capability to integrate financial solutions with many of the other products and services offered by UPS. UPS Capital's financial services enable businesses to enhance their cash flow, reduce trade risk, and trade internationally.
The UPS Consulting unit serves as a natural extension of UPS's expertise in linking the movement of goods, information, and funds for businesses around the world. The unit is composed of senior consultants who apply their decades of industry experience to develop solutions based on a fundamental theory of synchronizing multiple processes across the business enterprise. In doing so, they are able to integrate supply chain strategy with their clients' business strategy and ongoing operating plans.
The UPS Mail Innovations unit provides expedited mail services for flats, bound printed matter, and irregular parcels—mail typically larger than a letter but less than a one-pound package. UPS Mail Innovations picks up mail pieces, sorts them by postal code, and forwards them into the U.S. Postal Service facility nearest the final destination for delivery.
Recognizing the need for a stimulating and flexible environment that fosters intensive collaboration, creativity, and teamwork, UPS developed the UPS Innovation Complex, or Innoplex. The UPS Innoplex encourages employees from a number of company functions and disciplines to work together to address new e-commerce initiatives, develop or relaunch products, and move ideas from inception to execution with aggressive speed-to-market goals.
The UPS Windward data center, located in southern Forsyth County, is the central nervous system of UPS's global technology infrastructure. Built in 1995, the facility was designed to provide increased mainframe capacity and backup facilities for its sister data center at the UPS World Technology Headquarters in Mahwah, New Jersey. Together, these centers ensure the constant reliability of UPS's global tracking system, Internet operations, telecommunications, and other critical information systems. Completely self-sufficient, the Windward facility can operate on self-generated power for two days and is flexible, with dual paths for electricity and chilled water. Its unique center automation system is totally integrated to monitor the entire building, with more than 10,000 data points, from a single laptop computer. Windward represents a total investment of approximately $55 million for UPS.
In April 2001 UPS acquired Mail Boxes Etc. (MBE), the premier franchiser of retail shipping and business services. In April 2003 UPS expanded its presence to the storefronts of more than 3,000 franchisees of MBE Centers across the U.S. that elected to change their name to the UPS Store. In 2004 there were more than 170 locations, including 7 MBE Centers in Georgia. Although these locations carry the UPS Store brand, each is independently owned and operated.
Robert D. Butler and Lewis M. Feldstein, with Don Cohen, Better Together: Restoring the American Community (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2003).
"Delivering in Tough Times," Chief Executive, March 2003.
Marie Powers, "When UPS Came Calling," Business Atlanta, January 1992.
Ronna Charles, United Parcel Service
Copyright 2004-2012 by the Georgia Humanities Council and the University of Georgia Press.
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