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UPS celebrates its 100th anniversary next year. John Gould, UPS’ regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, looks back at the remarkable journey.

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By  Robeel Haq Published  September 18, 2006

UPS hits a century|~|ups_gould2.jpg|~||~|The employees at United Parcel Services (UPS) are preparing for a major celebration next year. The US-based company is marking its 100th year of operations in 2007, including two decades of successful trading throughout the Middle East. During this time, UPS has undoubtedly become one of the world’s largest logistics companies, bagging a number of accolades along the way, including a high ranking on Forbes’ list of “most valuable corporate brands”. Although UPS can safely be considered an industry veteran, it only entered the Middle East in 1987, after establishing import operations in Bahrain. Today, the company has offices throughout the region, including Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. “The Middle East has certainly been one of those exciting growth sectors for the company and the future in this region is very exciting,” says John Gould, UPS’ regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. “Personally, I have been involved in this part of the world since we started in the Middle East,” he adds. “The various governments are working hard to bring down barriers in establishing businesses here, which is a fantastic incentive to join the region’s growing economy. Especially in Dubai, where the government is completely behind us, I cannot think of any examples of barriers which have deterred our growth or created problems.” In the Middle East, UPS has created three distinct business united: cargo services, small package distribution and supply chain solutions. From its regional distribution centre in Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZ), UPS runs between 18-21 aircraft throughout the week. “The facility near Dubai International Airport is the company’s gateway into the Middle East,” says Gould. “This is really the centre for moving small packages and distributing them throughout the region. In addition, we provide cargo services to the industry. So, whenever freight forwarders in the market want to move consignments to the East or the West, they can purchase space on the aircraft.” UPS also operates an office in the Al Qouz area of Dubai, which is the head office for the small package distribution. This includes the management of the domestic express service, from Dubai to Dubai or Abu Dhabi to Sharjah, for example. In addition, the office handles the import express and international express services for urgent, time-definite deliveries. The final business unit, focusing on supply chain management, offers customers a range of supply chain solutions, focusing on airfreight, seafreight, warehousing and distribution. UPS has evidently benefited from its early entry into the Middle East’s logistics industry. Business has rapidly increased since its entry in 1987 and Gould predicts the market will continue to expand further in the future. “The market has grown considerably since we started in the region and we are handling a much larger volume of business now,” he says. “The number of businesses being created in the Middle East is also increasing. Twenty years ago, any company with global ambitions would require a solid infrastructure. Nowadays companies with an internet connection, a small working space and UPS’ telephone number can provide services to customers throughout the world.” The situation is somewhat reminiscent of UPS’ own humble beginnings in 1907, when 19-year-old entrepreneur James Casey noticed growing demand for private messenger and delivery services in America. To help meet this need, Casey borrowed US$100 from a friend and established the American Messenger Company in Washington. Nearly 100 years later, UPS has grown into a US$36 billion corporation, managing the flow of goods in over 200 countries throughout the world. In addition to maintaining a healthy balance sheet, UPS continues to lead the logistics industry in terms of corporate social responsibility. The company strives to motivate staff and improve the quality of life for the local community by regularly organising events such as volunteering weeks. “We hold a global volunteer week during October every year,” explains Gould. “This is a corporate initiative where UPS employees throughout the world give back to the community in different ways. Everyone gets involved, from general managers to service providers. Activities could include repainting schools, volunteering at a homeless shelter or cleaning up beaches.” During last year’s global volunteer week, UPS employees donated their time to stage a full day of clean-up operations on the Jumeirah Beach coastline in Dubai. Tasks included removing rubbish and enhancing the overall environment of the popular tourist destinations. “The end result is always worthwhile on a number of different levels,” says Gould. “It benefits society and the employees return to work with a better understanding of the community and a stronger team-orientated attitude.” On the whole, UPS employees seem eager to take part in the global initiative, and the programme has proved a successful part of the company’s operations. “In the Middle East there is a strong sense of giving back to the community. I think the popularity of such schemes in the region, amongst logistics companies and other industries too, is bound to increase because it’s a win-win situation. I’m sure these activities will continue in the next 100 years too,” he laughs. As the countdown begins for the centenary celebrations, Gould and his team remain optimistic about UPS’ future success in the Middle East, despite growing competition in the market. “There are probably a lot of players who have recently entered the market. However, we have been in this industry since 1907 and this longevity is definitely a strength,” says Gould. “Also, we have a massive global stretch and the owners of UPS are normally the managers, so there is a strong sense of employee ownership. These are differentiating factors from the competition.” ||**||

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