The Enterprising Entrepreneur

Written by James Okere

The Enterprising Entrepreneurial skills and doggedness employed by James E. Casey (29th March, 1888- 6th June, 1983): Founder, United Parcel Service (UPS) brought the company into prominence as James Casey defiled all odds.

James E. Casey was a clear case of a humble beginning, with clear thought on creativity. He was the oldest of four children born to an inn-keeper and gold prospector in the small mining community of Candelaria, Neveda. The family’s fortune was limited, and in addition with his family in failing health, the young Casey had to quit school at the age of eleven (11) to help provide support for the family. He aligned himself with the words of Albert Ellis that “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You don’t blame them on your mother, ecology or the president”.

With a mind determined to succeed, Casey started with delivering packages for a department store at a monthly salary of $2.50. He also worked as a messenger for a telegraph company. At the age of 15, he with two other fellow messengers started their own delivery service (entrepreneurship). He later sold off his share and moved to Nevada to prospect for gold.

In 1907 at the age of 19, Casey returned to Seattle, Washington he had earlier left with a partner and together with $100 in capital they established the American Messenger Company in a basement of 6- by- 17 foot. Because few persons owned telephones in these areas, Casey’s company specialized in this particular area and delivered messages received through Seattle’s two telephone companies. In addition, they delivered to their customer’s trays of food and anything else that a messenger could deliver. Imbued with drive for success, Casey offered 24-hour, seven-day per week service, this he did to enable him compete favourably against the more established services in Seattle. In the beginning, their six messenger staff walked or rode street cars, but in order to add value to their business, the firm soon purchased a small fleet of bicycle and motorcycles. Their style of business attracted to them to a local clothing store who contracted the firm to deliver packages, and soon package delivery became the focus of the company.

To further grow his organization, he in 1913 merged with a competitor, and the monthly revenues topped $2,000, it was then that Casey put his first delivery truck into service. They borrowed enough money to purchase a new Model T. Ford, whereupon because of business ingenuity the body of the vehicle was removed, and it placed a custom-built body on the chassis. This thinking by Casey which could haul 50 packages became an instant success, and additional growth followed suit. They soon added another vehicle to their business, as they were picking up more business from departmental stores.

He continued with zeal to develop the organization, and by 1915, their Merchant Parcel Delivery had a fleet of four truck, five motorcycles, and 20 foot messengers. By 1917, Casey’s original partner sold his share back to the company, and entered the insurance business. In 1919, Casey advanced his business plan and purchased a delivery company in Oakland, Califonia and at Francisco he also purchased another called Merchants Parcel Delivery, and Casey letter re-named his company United Parcel Service (UPS).

United Parcel Service entered the Los Angeles market in 1922, and because of his enterprise, within five years the company was established in San Diego, San Francisco, and Portland. Also by 1930 the company was established with many departmental stores that were willing to do business with UPS. His business expansionist also advanced into other cities including Cincinnati (1934), Milwaukee (1938) and Chicago (1940). At the end of the World War II, Casey further rooted his company in many countries including Nigeria. Their services developed special package – handling equipment that would increase efficiency in services.

James E. Casey died on June 6, 1983 at the age of 95. He was a lifelong bachelor. Today United Parcel Service has nearly 340,000 employees’ world wide with annual revenue gulping into several billions of US dollars, a feet, James E. Casey achieved with right focus, positive attitude and perseverance.

Inspiring Greatness Principles:
“Press on has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”.
- Calvin Colidge (former USA President)

“The mistakes-riddled life is much richer, more interesting, and more stimulating than the life that has never risked or taken a stand on anything”.
- David Mcnally.

“Think positively and masterfully, with confidence and faith, life becomes more secure, more fraught with action, richer in achievement and experience”.
- Eddie Rickenbacker.

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