"Brown" Celebrates 100th Birthday

Over the past century, UPS drivers have become so familiar that most people know them by the color of the uniform.

"That's all ya hear. 'Hey, what's up, Brown? How ya doin' Brown?'" says UPS driver Raul Modesto.

This summer, "Brown" is marking a major birthday. Yes, UPS is 100 years old, reports CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason.

CEO Mike Eskew, like all his predecessors, came up through the company ranks, delivering packages.

"I delivered with one of these (trucks). I was never really very good at it but I did it," he says.

UPS, which now ships billions of packages around the world, was born in a Seattle basement in 1907, when Jim Casey borrowed 100 bucks to set up the business.

The American Messenger Company delivered telegrams — until the telephone killed that business. So Casey began shipping department store packages, changing the name to the United Parcel Service. By the 1950s, it offered two-day delivery to 48 states. But in the 80s, a challenger arrived.

Federal Express offered the first overnight service. Now, you could "FedEx" it.

"I think FedEx becoming a verb was very disturbing to UPS," and a rivalry was born, says Mike Brewster, co-author of "Driving Change."

"It's Coke-Pepsi. It's a really fierce competition," says Brewster.

UPS counter-attacked: offering its own next-day service and expanding to more than 200 countries.

The little messenger company that started in a Seattle basement now has an air force of nearly 300 planes. UPS is the 8th largest airline in the world and delivers more packages than the U.S. post office. It delivers 15 million packages a day. Further, 6 percent of the U.S. economy rides on UPS' 94,000 trucks.

In their bland brown uniforms — adopted back in the 20s — UPS drivers have become unlikely sex symbols.

"We've had a couple of drivers who found future wives on their route," says Modesto.

At 100, UPS is wearing its age well, as it keeps on truckin'.
  • Amy Clark

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