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Case Study

From a $100 loan to $100bn in revenue: UPS

In August 1907, budding Seattle-based entrepreneurs James E. Casey and Claude Ryan borrowed USD 100 to start the American Messenger Company. In its early days, most deliveries were made on foot, with longer journeys by bike. Little did either man know that they were on a trajectory which would see their startup become UPS, one of the world’s largest shipping couriers.

By 1930, the company had expanded coast to coast, moving its corporate office from Los Angeles to New York City. This would be the springboard for its nationwide operation. Over the next 55 years, UPS would expand to offer next-day delivery to every US state along with Puerto Rico. In 1985, the company launched its intercontinental air delivery service between the US and Europe.

Global domination quickly followed. Today, UPS is the world’s largest courier by revenue, outperforming fellow giants DHL and FedEx. It is the largest private employer in the US, with over 500,000 staff, and its Kentucky cargo hub is the fifth busiest in the world.

Each day, UPS delivers an average of 24 million parcels across its international network spanning more than 220 countries and territories. This vast global operation translates to equally significant returns. The company reported revenues in 2022 of USD 100.3bn.

On top of its impressive financials, UPS is committed to delivering on its promise to protect the environment. The delivery giant already drives over one million cleaner miles every day, has purchased 162 million gallons of alternative fuels, and invested USD 1bn in green technologies. By 2050, the company aims to be entirely carbon neutral.

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