The foundation for UPS began in 1907 when James E. Casey borrowed $100 from a friend to establish the American Messenger Company in Seattle, Washington. The company’s office was located under a sidewalk, where Jim and his partner Claude Ryan ran the service. Phone calls would come into their headquarters, then messengers would run errands, deliver packages, or carry notes, baggage and trays of food from restaurants. Most of these deliveries were made on foot or bicycle, as there were only a few automobiles in existence at this time.
During these first five years, the company flourished despite stiff competition. Their success was largely because of Jim Casey’s strict policies of customer courtesy, reliability, round-the-clock service and low rates. These principles, which still guide UPS today, are summarized in Jim’s slogan: best service and lowest rates.
By 1913, the company began using motorcycles to make deliveries, which now focused more on packages than messages. The United States Post Office also became the company’s largest client for about two years during this time. Other adaptations made in the company over these next five years included the company’s acquisition of their first Model T Ford, two mergers with local competitors, and having three of Seattle’s largest department stores as regular customers.
In 1919 the company expanded outside of Seattle to Oakland, California, and adopted its present name, the United Parcel Service. Expansion continued in 1922, when UPS acquired a company in Los Angeles with an innovative practice known as “common carrier” service. The new service included automatic daily pickup calls, acceptance of checks made out to the shipper in payment of CODs, additional delivery attempts, and more. These new services, combined with competitive rates, was perhaps the key feature in the growing success of the company.
Another technological innovation introduced by UPS was the first conveyor belt for handling packages in 1924. By 1927, the common carrier service had been expanded to include an area extending up to 125 miles from the center of Los Angeles. Around this same time, the retail delivery services provided by UPS had also expanded to include all major cities on the west coast.