In an age when CEOs change companies more often than professional athletes change teams, it’s refreshing to see a 97-year-old company that’s chalked up only nine CEOs in its history.
It’s even more impressive when you consider that this is a company that went from a two-man messenger and small package delivery service for local shops in Seattle to a $32 billion supply chain management business that serves 200 countries and employs more than 360,000 people — just 50,000 shy of the population of the city of Atlanta.
The man behind much of that international expansion is Michael L. Eskew, who in January 2002 was named chairman and CEO of United Parcel Service Inc.
Eskew was part of the team that initially expanded UPS into Europe in 1976, helped begin the company’s first intercontinental air service between the United States and Europe, and led the campaign to launch UPS’s own airline, which today is the 10th-largest airline in the United States with 257 of its own planes and 315 chartered aircraft.
Although he’s been CEO for less than two years, Eskew has long been a vocal advocate of embracing the rapidly expanding global marketplace. In his eyes, CEOs who want their companies to thrive can no longer just do business in their city, state or even country. Like it or not, it’s time to get global or perish.
"We have large and small customers that are now doing business well beyond their natural trading borders," says Eskew. "What was only in Chicago in the past is now in Los Angeles, New York, China and London."