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The History of UPS

In 1907, two teenagers named Claude Ryan and Jim Casey opened the American Messenger Company in a Seattle basement using a $100 loan. The messengers made deliveries by riding street cars or using bicycles. In 1919, the company expanded into Oakland, California and its name was changed to the United Parcel Service. That same year, the company’s cars were painted their signature brown color to represent class, sophistication, and professionalism. In 1929, UPS experimented with air service, but it was a very short-lived endeavor. Then the company expanded to New York City in 1930 (and even moved the corporate office to there), and in 1953, UPS commenced common carrier operations. The company served commercial and residential shippers in several cities; Chicago was the first city outside of California to offer common carrier operations. UPS reinstated air service in 1953, offering two-day delivery to major East Coast and West Coast cities. At the time, the shipments were flown on regular commercial flights. In 1975, UPS became the first package delivery company to offer service to every address in the continental U.S. — this connectivity was often referred to as “the Golden Link.” The company also expanded internationally for the first time when it began offering services in Toronto in 1975. Ten years later, UPS began intercontinental air service between the U.S. and Europe and in 1988, the company secured approval from the FAA to begin operating its own aircraft, marking the launch of UPS Airlines. UPS expanded again in 1989 by extending services to the Middle East, Africa, and countries located in the Pacific Rim. A new, energy-efficient corporate headquarters was opened in Atlanta in 1994 and also debuted that same year. UPS went public on November 10, 1999 and entered the retail business two years later by acquiring Mail Boxes Etc., Inc.; the company rebranded the existing locations into The UPS Store. UPS began offering Saturday ground delivery and pickup services in 2018 and in 2020, the company’s first female CEO, Carol B. Tomé, began her tenure. Today, UPS is one of the most well-known global shipping companies and their iconic brown trucks are a common sight on roadways and in neighborhoods.

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