Pitney Bowes today celebrated its 90th birthday, honoring the 1920 incorporation of the company with plans to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
"Ninety years is a milestone few companies achieve," said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Murray Martin. "Paradoxically, the key to longevity is continuous reinvention, and I am proud to state that our commitment to renewal has never been stronger. Even as we celebrate this amazing anniversary, we are laying the foundation for our next 90 years as a specialist in multi-channel communications technology and know-how."
One key feature of that renewal, Martin noted, is that Pitney Bowes, historically known for its ability help companies lower their costs, can now provide technologies and tools to help companies grow.
Modern mailing systems for digital printing
Symbolizing the company's shift from its historical focus on productivity to its new capabilities in business growth, the newest mailing systems from Pitney Bowes can digitally print customized marketing or other messages on the outside of an envelope, dramatically increasing the chance that the recipient will open, read, and act on the information inside. Other systems from Pitney Bowes can help businesses target their marketing and operations more effectively by easily identifying potential customers based on integrated demographic and geographic information.
"There is so much more to Pitney Bowes than most people realize," Martin said. "Our systems can help organizations link their physical and online communications channels in powerful ways. We find that more organizations are taking a strategic approach to managing these communications channels, and Pitney Bowes is there to help them."
Pitney Bowes is now a global enterprise deriving 30% of its revenue from outside the United States. The company is integral to the business processes of nearly two million organizations worldwide. Representative clients include more than 90% of the Fortune 500 firms; local, regional and national governments in scores of countries; global giants in the health care, insurance, financial services, and telecommunications industries; and hundreds of thousands of smaller firms like Cole Mussel Farms in Canada, and We Be Uh…Campin' in California.
The history of Pitney Bowes
The company's origins are classically Anglo-American. Inventor Arthur Pitney patented his first postage meter in 1902, but it wasn't until he joined forces with British-born entrepreneur Walter Bowes that he began to realize the meter's commercial potential. The two men incorporated the Pitney Bowes Postage Meter Company on 23 April 1920, and began to sell their new system to companies that were eager to find an alternative to buying and handling large quantities of stamps for their business mailings.
"New Mail Machine Eliminates Stamps," read the headline in the 21 August 1921, issue of The New York Times. The article noted the lightning-fast speed of affixing postage (250 letters per minute), the system's size (hardly three times the size of a typewriter) and cost ($40 per month to lease, equivalent to about $487 today). The story went on to note that the National City Bank, a predecessor to the modern financial giant Citigroup, was the first Pitney Bowes customer in New York City.
How times have changed. The fastest systems from Pitney Bowes now process business mail at up to 26,000 pieces per hour, and fully-digital entry level systems can be leased for a fraction of the cost of that 1921 machine.
What has not changed is the company's focus on developing and sustaining long-term business relationships: Citigroup is still a Pitney Bowes customer.
Martin praised Pitney Bowes's 33,000 employees worldwide for their contributions to the company's long-term success. "We inherited a great global enterprise from those who came before us, and the current generation is striving every day to make it even stronger for those who will follow," Martin said. The company is part-way through a strategic transformation process that is making it more flexible, more agile and better-positioned to capitalize on new business opportunities.
90 years of diversity and employee satisfaction
While the company is transforming, major elements of company culture will remain true to the Pitney Bowes legacy. The firm has been a management leader and innovator for decades. Under the leadership of legendary chairman Walter Wheeler, the company adopted the principles of diversity and inclusion in the 1940s, nearly a decade before the beginnings of the civil rights movement in the United States, and it continues to win awards and accolades for its modern diversity practices.
It is a pioneer in employee health care and was cited as a national model for others to follow by President Obama in 2009. It is also a leader in global ethics, and has been cited by both Corporate Responsibility Officer magazine and the Ethisphere Institute for its business practices and management commitment to honest dealings. Pitney Bowes employees annually volunteer thousands of hours of time for community service projects where they live and work, and the company is a generous corporate philanthropist, investing most heavily in programs that support youth literacy and education.
"It is an honor for me to represent Pitney Bowes at the New York Stock Exchange on this happy occasion," Martin said. "Pitney Bowes is a great company, and we are charging into the future with a renewed excitement about all of its possibilities."