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She delivers

United Parcel Service, founded in 1907 as a messenger service in the United States, is the world’s largest package delivery company, according to its website. Parcels navigate across this country and around the world in planes and long-haul trucks, arriving at processing centers that dispatch drivers in the familiar “big brown trucks”, full of eagerly awaited packages.

Meet Kelly Franks, one of Grass Valley’s UPS drivers. This petite, blond, single mom has been delivering packages in Nevada County for 11 years. “I started it at Christmas, didn’t think I was going to get on, just do it part-time,” Franks said, “but they hired me on and it’s gone forward from there.” Franks had worked for Nevada County Transportation before her UPS job, “but once I got in at UPS, I just loved it,” she said.

Franks never dreamed she would end up working for UPS. “I always thought I was going to work in the office,” she said. And although the part-time job during the Christmas holidays was hard work, Franks says it was good exercise and, “I loved it; I went home and went right to bed, I was so tired.” When she was called back and offered a full-time position, Franks readily accepted.



It wasn’t easy during her first year as a delivery driver. “The training that they start you at is very hard,” Franks said. Part of that training included going to school in Yuba City to learn how to handle the trucks. “I was such a truck person anyways, so I did pretty good and passed with flying colors,” Franks quipped.

Drivers must also learn to deliver parcels quickly and efficiently, according to Franks. Routes are set by delivery times, with each stop scheduled to be completed in about 30 seconds. Deliveries that require a signature take more time and CODs (Cash On Delivery), which require a transaction with the customer, are allotted up to three minutes each. “You’re really hustling all the time,” Franks says, “and they just want to make sure you’re safe out there, delivering the packages and being nice to our customers.”




Her boss in those early years was the late Drew Reynolds (killed while driving a UPS truck in 2004), whom Franks called her mentor. She gives Reynolds credit for her success at UPS. “He color-coded my guides and my truck to help me through this. I would have never made it through if it wasn’t for Drew,” Franks said.

The job has become easier as UPS embraced the electronic age, Franks says. Package handlers load trucks, with packages placed in order by number on shelves in the truck, starting with shelf one. Each parcel and its delivery specifics are then entered into an electronic clipboard, which Franks calls ‘the brain’. “The first electronic boards were heavy and bulky,” Franks says. “Three boards later now, we have the littlest board and it has so much technology in it, it just basically tells you everything.”

One of the toughest parts of the job is meeting the physical requirements, which include lifting 25-35 lbs. packages all day; some of those packages could weigh up to 70 lbs. Franks is petite and says meeting that requirement was hard work. “In the first year, I just cried and cried, but after that, my muscles were built up; everything seemed to come into order.” Part of her training included the proper and safe way to lift heavy packages on her own, although sometimes a helper is on board to assist with the delivery of particularly heavy loads. Handcarts are also provided and Franks says the trucks are designed to allow heavy packages to slide off the back of the truck onto those handcarts.

All that hard work has benefits, Franks says with a grin. “I love being outdoors, I love people, my customers, I love making people happy delivering their packages.” She also has high praise for her bosses and fellow employees. “I’ve never met so many good people. They don’t degrade you, they give you compliments, they’re always saying good job, they uplift you,” Franks says passionately. “Even when you get in trouble, they do get on you, but after that, they still tell you what a good job you’ve done.”

Kelly Franks says she has “14 more ice cream seasons ’til retirement”. Until then, her customers can expect excellent service and a big smile with every UPS delivery.

Upcoming event: Nearly 300 vintage cars are expected at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma for the 21st annual Wine Country Classic Vintage Car Races this weekend, June 2-3. Sports-and-race-cars from the early 1900s to the mid-1980s (Porsches, Jaguars, Aston Martins, Corvettes, Ford Model Ts and more) will compete on the road course in nine race groups. More information is available at http://www.infineonraceway.com.

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Race fans anticipating the showing of “Dale: the Movie,” the Earnhardt family-authorized film about the late Dale Earnhardt, have a chance to see the movie in Chico on June 6th. Although not listed on the website, other showings in Sacramento and surrounding areas are expected later this month, in conjunction with the NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Infineon Raceway June 22-24. More information is available at http://www.dalethemovie.com.


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