An Empire From An Idea
(L. Perry Wilbur)
An Empire From an Idea
A strong idea, vision for the future, and the ability to see a market niche for a business service, were the dynamic qualities that Fred W. Smith combined to establish the world's largest transportation company known everywhere today as Federal Express.
Fred Smith described his idea and early organization plans for an over-night air Express service in a paper he did while a college student at Yale. After serving as a Marine Corps pilot in Vietnam, Smith had two market research studies done and saw enough potential in the data to proceed with his business service.
Starting with a fleet of 14 small aircraft, launched from Memphis International Airport, Federal Express quickly became the number one carrier of important goods and packages in the world. The company has more than
90,000 employees worldwide and has served a whopping 185 countries. Revenues of the company are in the multi- billions of dollars. Fred Smith tapped the full potential of his business idea and, in fact, continues to do so every day.
From the beginning, Smith's original ideas were strong and right on target. Couriers pick up packages and deliver them to the airport. Packages are then flown to a central hub, sorted, and flown to the closest city, where couriers deliver them to their final destination.
A key slogan of Federal Express is summed up in three words: People...Service....Profit. "Take care of our people; they, in turn, will deliver the impeccable service demanded by our customers who will reward us with the profitability necessary to secure the future." People, service, and profit are the dynamic words that form the basic foundation of Federal Express. In the words of Fred Smith, "When People are placed first, they will provide the highest possible service, and profits will follow.
Year after year, Federal Express continually appears in listings of the best companies to work for. The company has a commitment to avoid lay-offs, and this is a key reason why employees are willing to take risks.
As Fred Smith puts it, "If we were to go out to the hub and introduce a robot out there, for example, with our no
lay-off program, we can talk to the employees about where we are going to put them. The robot does not become a threat to them."
The company continually reinvests profits into state-of-the-art equipment and aircraft to support expansion.
Federal Express became a publicly held company on April 12, 1978. The original offering price of the stock, adjusted for stock splits, was $3 per share. Smith and his company introduced the Overnight Letter in 1981, offering a lower-priced way of sending documents over-night.
In truth, when Fred Smith wrote his paper at Yale, describing his early organization plans for an overnight
air express service, it was like the line from a memorable song that goes..."the start of something big." Federal
Express, a great American company, reflects the American free enterprise system at its best.