Former UPS delivery driver turned executive writes book on leadership

Ron Wallace, a former UPS delivery driver who worked his way up to an executive position at the shipping giant, seems like the restless type.

Since retiring in 2003 as president of UPS International, the Milton resident has been owner of the Olde Blind Dog Irish Pubs in Milton and Brookhaven, opened the Branch & Barrel restaurant at Avalon, chaired the governor’s commission to form the city of Milton and written three books.

His latest book, “Leadership Lessons from a UPS Driver” released this week, is aimed at teaching the basics of being a manager, UPS-style.

UPSers, as they are known, are an unusual bunch in that the company is particularly focused on a promoting from within. Many of the company’s CEOs, including the current CEO David Abney, started as delivery drivers or package loaders at the company.

“Most everybody will go through the driver ranks so they can understand it… to understand on the front lines what a driver goes through, and all the moving parts,” Wallace said. “You can’t do that by going to school or reading out of a book.”

UPS spokesman Dan McMackin said the company’s tendency to promote from within has “served us well for more than 100 years, and we appreciate Ron’s candid look at what made him and others here so successful.”

Wallace started as a UPS driver in 1966 in Northern Idaho, where he grew up. As he moved up the ladder at UPS, his job took him to different parts of the world, including four years as a region manager in Canada and six years as a district manager in Germany, before taking the position leading UPS International that had him traveling regularly.

“I had the advantage of seeing things firsthand from a lot of different cultures… different ways of doing business,” Wallace said. “I’ve seen companies do things well and not so well.”

The book, he said, is about the basics of motivating people and maximizing performance, and may also be valuable reading for teenagers in their formative years.

“It teaches honesty and integrity and being responsible for your actions,” Wallace said. “All basic stuff.”