DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – When Holly Hill native Janis Bailey first started driving for UPS 32 years ago, people were not accustomed to see a woman delivering their packages.
“In the early days when I was hired, our customers expected a male representative. I was a 24-year-old girl with a pony tail, and I think that surprised them,” said Bailey. “There was a small pool of us, and we had to prove ourselves. Women weren’t the face of UPS when I first started, but I am so proud that we have more females than ever before working in operations and as drivers.”
Enough women, she said, she’s no longer met with much surprise.
“Not surprised at all. When I started it was disbelief, but not at all now. With a 32-year career I am proof that you should not judge a book by its cover,” said Bailey.
The mother of six became Daytona Beach’s first female UPS driver decades ago, starting in an industry that was male-dominated and not an obvious choice for a woman. But Bailey said it offered her everything she needed.
“I was an only child and raised with strong values, integrity and good work ethic. I’m naturally strong, determined, and independent—all skills needed to be a successful UPS driver,” said Bailey. “The position offered great benefits and pay and the ability to support my family over the years.”
Not only did it allow her the flexibility to earn a Master’s degree in criminal justice research while raising a family and working full-time, it taught her a lot about driving safely on the roads.
“Avoid the rat pack and find your own space,” said Bailey. “I avoid the middle and left lanes, avoid clusters and semi-trucks on the highway, and choose the right lane where I have more control.”
So much, in fact-- Bailey has achieved an honor within UPS. She’s the first female out of her center to join the Circle of Honor, an elite group of professional UPS drivers who have delivered packages for 25 years or more without an accident. She received her 25 year patch three years ago, and will get her 30-year patch in two years if she continues and reaches her 30-year safe driving milestone. She’ll continue to get one every five years after that, as long as her driving record stays clean.
But even more rewarding than the honor, Bailey said she loves making her customers happy.
“As essential workers during the pandemic, I really saw the impact of how our company serves the community—from bringing medication, food, water and all of the essential needs,” said Bailey, “People would sit in the cul-de-sac and wave and show such positivity about the importance of our jobs. Then, when you get that face-to-face interaction, you truly know they appreciate all you do.”
Her words of advice to any woman considering a career in a male-dominated field are to never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.
“I tell the ladies, if you want it, do it. Don’t let anyone tell you, no. Don’t get intimidated by others,” said Bailey. “When you get in your truck, we’re treated just like anyone else. Nobody gives you a pass. I tell them to take it one stop at a time. You are here for a reason. It’s a good job with good pay, and a great company. All you need to remember is to be safe. Think about you, the people on the road, and your family. The last stop of the day is the most important stop—making it home safely to your family.”