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Mr. Four 25s: Profile of a UPS Driver

UPS is well known as a company that promotes from within. I’m a great example of that policy in action. I started with UPS in 1978 while still in high school. I was 17 and remember how intimidating the hub environment felt to me. Years later I would consider that hub, a maze of conveyor belts and steel girders, my second home. And exactly 10 years after I started with UPS I was still there, but instead of loading trucks I was riding on one with a driver in the ultra-rural northwest corner of Wisconsin. My job at that juncture was to produce a monthly magazine that UPSers in Wisconsin received in their homes.

UPS Package CarThis driver was noteworthy because as his manager told me on the phone, “he has four 25s. That’s got to be a record of some kind.” The Guiness Book of Records notwithstanding, it was an amazing achievement: 25 years without an accident, 25 years without an injury, 25 years without a sick day. And here’s the showstopper—25 years without a paid send-again. For those of you not familiar with delivery work, send-agains are the slightly annoying second and third trips we make when someone isn’t home or when a business is closed for the day. Some drivers have some everyday. Most drivers have some every week. To not have any for 25 years is astonishing. And the secret to this driver’s success rate? He knew his customers. He knew them so well and he studied their routines so fastidiously that in 25 years he never had to make a second or third attempt. If it rained, he knew that the bulk of the farmers in the community would be at the coffee shop. He’d make one stop there and complete nine otherwise rural deliveries, satisfying our customers in the process (not to mention saving fuel, time and money).

Throughout the day, I’d watch as he would drive not to the front door of a farmhouse, but to a gate where a farmer had hung a plastic bag where packages could be left out of sight and out of weather, even if no one was home. This driver was like a seasoned detective, always thinking one or two steps ahead. He knew his customers’ preferences, he knew their schedule and he knew his delivery area like the back of his hand. He was the consummate service provider.

We like to say that UPS connects people, not just with goods, but also with information. Well this driver was doing both. He connected farmers with the tractor parts and combine widgets they needed to run their farms. He brought the local school its books and the hardware store the merchandise for its shelves. He also delivered the local news, sports and weather from one house to the next. His information download wasn’t in bits and bytes, it was in the human touch that our service providers bring to everyone they encounter. He knew who was expecting a baby, and he knew who had just passed away. And he shared the local scuttlebutt, which in a farming community can be very useful. He would know when too-wet farm fields were about to be plowed on one end of his route, and when new seed was in at the local feed store. And if you “weren’t from around these parts” and needed to know which county trunk to take to leave town, he was the equivalent of a human GPS device.

All in all, the most remarkable aspect of “Mr. Four 25s” wasn’t his record. What was most impressive was that he genuinely cared about aspects of his job many people in the world either ignore or pay little attention to. He cared about his own health and safety and the safety of others. He cared about his customers. And he truly cared about his company.

Category: Business Insights
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    Comments [2]

  1. Great post. While Four 25s is quite an accomplishment, we have folks like this
    throughout our company who, in their own jobs, do extraordinary things every day.
    Thanks for bringing this to the blog. Maybe our readers can share stories of other
    UPSers who richly deserve their own “shout outs.”

  2. Congratulations! What a driver! Passion brings forth commitments that last.

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