Neighbors of Park City

From school functions to store functions: Heber couple builds a business around family

Giles family manages to blend family life with entrepreneurship at Heber UPS store

By: Natalie Taylor, Neighbors of Heber Valley

If 16-year-old Julie Giles were asked whether she’d one day own a UPS Store with her future husband, she would have said no and continued her dream of becoming a famous journalist or traveling through France to improve her French. But life has a way of making unexpected turns. Although those dreams never materialized, her thirst for freedom defined her future. 

Julie and her husband Jason lived in Sandy, Utah, early in their marriage. Jason worked in international marketing and product development/brand management, and Julie was a communications director for a large private school. “We wanted more control over our future and financial security,” Julie remembers, “While the parent company, UPS, is a major worldwide corporation, each UPS Store is an independently owned franchise, and there wasn’t anything like it in Heber. No other business in town offered all of those services in one place. There were no late nights or long weekends, so it worked for our skills and our family. The people in this community know they are supporting a local business, and are very appreciative when you do a great job.”

In 2001, the Giles and another couple opened The UPS Store, now in its new location off 6th St between Hwy 40 and S 200 E. Later, the couples opened a second store in Lehi. Eventually, the stores were split and are now owned and operated independently. Adding to the excitement at the time, Jason and Julie welcomed their first son. “I’m not going to lie,” says Julie, “It was a lot. When we opened, we knew other UPS Stores that had managers or staff running them, and they did fine. However, we quickly learned that it runs better if the owner is there.” Because Julie had experience in printing and accounting, it made sense for her to be the face of the store.

Photo: Take a Hike Photography // Lexie Larson

A year and a half later, the couple built a house and moved to Heber, where Julie transitioned to working at the store full-time.“I always wanted to own my own business,” Jason says, “I just got lucky to have a wife that was willing to make it happen.” It was a big risk. Julie remembers asking another UPS Store owner how his new business was doing – “He told me they made $.25 that day – they sold a pencil,” she laughs. “That was my benchmark; as long as we didn’t go below $.25 cents, it was a good day.” The store quickly became a family business, and over the years, the couple’s three boys — Tanner, Cayden, and Stockton — worked at the store after school and on weekends. “It was a great training ground for our kids as youngsters,” says Julie. “They learned how to use a computer, how to print, and all the ins and outs of packing and shipping. More importantly, they learned how to help people, which will be valuable in any profession they pursue.”

They also learned from their parent’s entrepreneurial spirit. After graduating from BYU, their two older sons began their own sports marketing company. “The boys are so courageous,” Jason says. “They saw what we did, and it just seemed natural to do the same.” 

Photo: Take a Hike Photography // Lexie Larson

According to UPS’ regional office in Salt Lake City, today, the Heber Valley UPS Store is in the top 10% of all UPS Stores nationwide for printing – with an emphasis on customer service. “Our niche ended up in printing because of all the small business owners,” says Julie, who recalls a piece of great advice she was given by a former vendor that’s likely made the biggest impact on their local professional relationships, “‘If I have a customer that needs a red pair of shoes,’ he said, ‘I find them a red pair of shoes. It doesn’t matter whether or not I sell shoes.’ That means we help figure out a solution, even if we’re not the solution. Whether we can help or not, I love that they come to us.”

Two years ago, Jason retired from his career to join Julie full-time in the dream they began building more than two decades earlier, now, with a new store at the southern end of town. The duo now works together daily. “It works because we mostly just let each other do what we’re good at,” says Julie, who helps customers while Jason works behind the scenes. The pair also have a long-time manager they rely on. “Chelsea Blair has been with us for 15 years; she runs it like she owns it,” says Julie. “She takes such pride and ownership and cares so much about it. She’s a huge part of our success.”

And while the flexibility of entrepreneurship has blessed their lives in many ways, owning a business is more than a job; it’s a lifestyle. “People have a misconception that if we have a business we make our own time,” says Julie. “But it’s on our mind 365 days a year. If no one else can do it, you’re it, so you have to try to find time to get away.”

Today, the family spends their free time doing what they love. “My husband is a golfer, and my kids played sports when they were young,” she says. “So, most of my life has been spent at ball games and golf matches and supporting my kids at tournaments. If you want to be with them, you do what they’re doing.”

After 23 years of business, the Giles have laid a foundation they can step away from now and again, entering the next chapter of life content, motivated, and with new opportunities for more family fun. “With the great staff we have, I know things are in good hands, so we can come and go and spend more time with our kids – and eventual grandkids,” says Julie, “I’m content to grow the store and enjoy what we’re doing right now.”

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