Surprising lessons learned at UPS

Gabe Riggs

Gabe Riggs (IL '12) manager, marketing web strategy, Norton Healthcare

Ignite Louisville 2012 program day at UPS

Before last Wednesday, the extent of my knowledge about UPS encompassed brown delivery trucks and the rumbling roar of their planes between 2 and 5 AM, continually shaking my house. To have a chance to see the expansive technology behind the global delivery machine, Worldport, and realize how much Louisville benefits from the organization, was very eye-opening.

One of the biggest takeaways I had from the morning was during the Director of Maintenance, Brad Schwandt’s talk about their community internship program. Brad spoke about how they work with FedEx to borrow parts and collectively it made both companies better. Brad said, “In the airline industry, you have to collaborate or you will fail.” That statement caught my attention. Why the airline industry? You would think that in an industry that has, as a whole, had horrible losses and struggled to stay financially viable, competitors would take any advantage they could over each other. Yet these competitors work together to create mutually beneficial relationships that help both companies better meet their customers’ needs. I thought about how we perceive our competitors in my industry. Instead of putting up walls and defenses, why don’t we look for bridges? I do realize that this wouldn’t apply to every company or industry, but I know that looking to a competitor for collaboration has never shown up on any of my resource lists.

The rest of the morning was great as well. Rhonda Clark’s story was absolutely unbelievable and inspirational. I can’t help but admire how she overcame so many obstacles and conquered new challenges with such humble resilience. I look forward to buying her autobiography someday. The afternoon tour of Worldport was great. How Jeff O’Dell knows so much baffles me. Aside from all the great UPS information, I learned that if you need a tree cut down, you should first get a quote for the wood to offset the cost. I also learned quite a bit about lobster. That guy would make a fortune on Jeopardy.

Thanks to UPS for giving us the opportunity to experience the heart of their operations. As I stood in the elevator with a UPS driver this morning I couldn’t help but smile at him as I thought through the amazing process the packages he held had been through. He was probably a little freaked out by me. Thanks again!

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