Frederick W. Smith

“Leaders get out in front and stay there by raising the standards by which they judge themselves – and by which they are willing to be judged.” ~Frederick W. Smith 

 

Fred Smith

Frederick W. Smith
Image: Penn State News via Flickr CC

Frederick W. Smith is the founder and CEO of FedEx, one of the world’s largest shipping and logistics companies.  FedEx has over $44 billion in revenues and 100,000 employees, the company is ranked number 246 on Forbes Global 2000 and was one of the first transportation companies to track packages with computer models.  FedEx created fast, overnight delivery of letters and parcels and became the first U.S. business to generate a billion dollars in revenue without merger or acquisition.  In 1990, Fedex earned the Malcom Baldridge Quality award, the first service business to do so.  It was also the first company to offer online tracking for customers to see where their package was.  FedEx now operates in 220 countries and territories.

While studying economics at Yale University in 1966, Frederick W. Smith wrote a paper envisioning a company that used computer modeling to track and deliver packages.  Rumor has it the professor told him the paper received a poor grade because the idea was not feasible, but it is noted by Smith as the inspiration for his company.  After college, Smith joined the Marine Corps and became a forward air controller, which provides guidance to military combat aircraft to hit desired targets and avoid friendly fire.  Smith says he observed military logistics closely and used the systems as ideas later.  After serving three years, Smith used inheritance money to buy interest in an aviation company, then Federal Express (FedEx) shortly after.

Frederick W. Smith is also a strong advocate for renewable energy, conscious that a transportation company has a huge impact on the environment and the country’s resources.  He is co-chairman of the Energy Security Leadership Council, and FedEx was one of the first companies to start incorporating electric vehicles into their fleet.  In 2012, FedEx purchased aircraft that were more fuel efficient with higher package capacity.  Smith has also worked on World War II memorial projects and a Marine Corps museum.  He lives in Nashville, TN.

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