Niemann, Greg 1939-
Niemann, Greg 1939-
Born July 11, 1939, in CA; married. Education: California State University at Los Angeles, B.A.
United Parcel Service, Los Angeles, CA, staff member, 1957-58, from delivery driver to editor of Big Idea and other company publications, c. 1961-1995; San Clemente Journal, San Clemente, CA, staff writer. Military service: U.S. Army; served in Germany, in the late 1950s.
Palm Springs Legends: Creation of a Desert Oasis, Sunbelt Publications (San Diego, CA), 2006.
Big Brown: The Untold Story of UPS, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 2007.
Greg Niemann was born July 11, 1939, in southern California. He studied journalism at California State University at Los Angeles, then went on to take a position working for the United Parcel Service (UPS). He interrupted the course of his career to join the United States Army, ending up stationed in Germany, where he earned the highest score in his battalion for the Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB) exam. Back in Los Angeles, Niemann returned to UPS, starting off as a delivery driver. But his journalism major stood him in good stead, and he was eventually promoted into a management position that entailed editing the company magazine, the Big Idea, for the southern California region. He worked his way up from there, taking on more responsibilities and more company publications, eventually handling all of the West Coast editions. It was a high profile position, and as a result Niemann became known to the upper reaches of corporate management, including every chief executive officer UPS has had from Jim Casey, who founded the company, to Mike Eskew. Niemann finally retired from UPS in 1995, after more than thirty-four years of service to the company. He returned to full-time journalism, joining the San Clemente Journal as a staff writer. Here he writes a travel column that focuses primarily on desert vacation destinations. He has also written several books, including Baja Legends: The Historic Characters, Events, and Locations That Put Baja California on the Map, Palm Springs Legends: Creation of a Desert Oasis, and Big Brown: The Untold Story of UPS.
In Big Brown, Niemann tells the story of the success of UPS from the point of view of a man who has worked for the company for more than three decades and personally knew many of the players about whom he writes. He begins by recounting the history of the company, which was started back in 1907 by Jim Casey under the name American Messenger Company. From its earliest days as a local delivery company, the firm that became known as UPS gradually built up into a coast-to-coast shipper that then tackled the international trade as well. Niemann addresses the corporate culture that inspired employee loyalty and enabled the company to grow into a powerful corporate entity. In particular, he includes numerous anecdotes, many of which relate to events that he personally witnessed, that illustrate the way the company was run, and how Casey and later leaders in the firm pushed their employees to achieve. One example shows Jim Casey standing in front of a roomful of employees back in 1975 and, after praising their illustrious achievements, informing them that the company only had five percent of the world's business. In this way he pointed out not only what they were doing well, but how much of an opportunity still existed for them to continue their success. Cecil Johnson, in a review for the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, quoted Niemann as saying: "The long-awaited coast-to-coast UPS service was barely realized—not fully in place—and here was Jim Casey already looking beyond the borders of the United States." Not all critics found Niemann's book uplifting, however, just as not everyone has been impressed by the corporate culture at UPS. Joe Allen, in a contribution for the International Socialist Review, dubbed Niemann's effort "a fawning, if not downright embarrassing, book. Nevertheless, despite the brown fog that Niemann tries to throw up around UPS's history and practices, some things come through that reveal the thinking behind the policies that have made the American workplace a living hell." Richard Drezen, in a review for Library Journal, praised the book overall, but noted that "unfortunately, the book features almost too much data about UPS for the reader to digest at times."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
California Bookwatch, September 1, 2006, review of Palm Springs Legends: Creation of a Desert Oasis.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 29, 2007, Cecil Johnson, "UPS Insider Offers Corporate History in a Complete Package."
Library Journal, April 1, 2007, Richard Drezen, review of Big Brown: The Untold Story of UPS, p. 99.
Publishers Weekly, June 4, 2001, "Sunbelt Publications," p. 49.
Supply Chain Management Review, January-February, 2008, "UPS Turns 100," pp. 66-67.
Greg Niemann Home Page,http://www.gregniemann.com (April 23, 2008).
International Socialist Review Web site,http://www.isreview.org/ (March 1, 2008), Joe Allen, "The Big Idea: Exploitation."
Ledger Online,http://www.theledger.com/ (April 1, 2007), Cecil Johnson, review of Big Brown.