The path to becoming a CEO doesn't always start with being an over-achiever as a kid, all straight A's and home runs. Some future CEOs were mini Picassos instead, awing parents and children alike with their crayon masterpieces. Some just liked taking apart their toys.
That was the case for Darius Grala.
"Farther back than I can remember--so I'm told by my parents--any new toy, including my father's watch once, I would take apart as a child and insinuate that I was putting them back together better than they started," says the now-CEO of Oz Development. "But I'm not sure that was always the case."
Successful or not, Grala's first forays into finding out how things worked had an impact, and ultimately led to a college degree in electrical engineering. In between classes, he still managed to immerse himself in the inner workings of something else--this time around, though, it was UPS shipping.
"My first UPS experience goes back to when I was still in college, working the 10p.m. to 2a.m. shift loading trucks," he says. "I still remember the ZIP Code for Laconia, New Hampshire. It's ingrained in my head forever."
Grala got to know UPS package-by-package, and continued to dig deeper post-college. Degree in hand, the new grad started working with a scale company on UPS rating technology.
"They were just simple rate calculating scales," he says. "That was long before tracking labels existed, this was in the early 90s."
As UPS technology progressed, Grala's interest in shipping did, too--when tracking numbers became the norm, his inquisitive instincts kicked in once again.
"I saw the different ways that people were trying to process shipments with UPS," he says, "and I sort of came up with this idea that I could do it even better."
Grala began looking into the pieces that made up the daily shipping process for companies: downloading orders in the morning, then uploading tracking numbers and charges into their accounting systems in the evening. The process was tedious and time-consuming, and he knew there had to be a better way.
Starting his own company, Tracer Research, allowed Grala to see his ideas to fruition.
"It was then that we came up with the whole notion of real-time integration, instead of actually uploading and downloading files ... we came up with a real-time hook right into their host accounting system," he says. "And that innovation made all the difference."
What came after--a still widely-used system called Clippership--changed the shipping process for companies worldwide, as Grala made instantaneous integration a reality.
After retiring and racing cars for a few years, Grala found himself feeling the itch to take something apart again. In 2002, he decided to dig into shipping systems once more with a new company, Oz Development.
"We took a look at the shipping system market at that time, and we came to the conclusion that the best system available was WorldShip, and it was actually free," he says. "So instead of competing with UPS, we set out to complement the products and services that UPS already had with state-of-the-art integration."
The end result, OzLINK, lets customers adapt different features of UPS technology piece-by-piece into their existing accounting and warehouse automation systems.
From the free version of OzLINK, which does basic rating and package tracking, to OzLINK Pro, which fully integrates with accounting systems like QuickBooks, customers can choose which level of integration is their best bet.
The most adaptable version of the software, OzLINK Custom, tops the list.
"The Custom version delivers UPS data wherever, whenever, and however way you want it. If you have a business process that could benefit from having some UPS functionality injected into it ... we can make it happen," Grala says. "It's by far the coolest solution we offer."
Solidifying OzLINK's status as a first-rate application is its seamless display of freight charges alongside package rates, ending freight's reputation as a complicated, separate process.
With OzLINK, "Someone whose freight experience is limited can easily see whether there is a benefit, and how much of a benefit there is, to trying UPS Freight" Grala says. "What was intimidating about freight in the past is now exactly that--in the past."
Through endlessly customizable integration options, Grala is keeping up his boyhood hobby with OzLINK--adapting UPS services to make them even better for over 16,000 customers worldwide.
Contact a UPS representative to learn more.
OzLINK integration software lets customers incorporate UPS functionality--like rating, tracking, and address validation--into their existing accounting and warehouse automation systems.