Thursday, March 16, 2017

"When It Absolutely, Positively"

FedEx founder Fred Smith transitioning to role as industry lobbyist.

The man who, more than any other, created the world of modern logistics has stepped away from operating the company he began.

Fred Smith, legendary founder of FedEx, expedited the arrival of the change at the package delivery giant that was initiated last year. In September of 2016, the company announced that Smith, the CEO, president and board chairman of FedEx Corp., would relinquish the presidency at the beginning of 2018. But last month, without fanfare, Smith turned over the role of president, and day-to-day operations of the firm, to David J. Bronczek, reported the Memphis Business Journal, in FedEx's home city, nearly a year ahead of schedule.

The move sets off the long-awaited succession at FedEx, and frees the billionaire founder, 72, to devote more time to  advocacy on business and free trade efforts. Smith has been a vocal lobbyist for open borders and trade agreements, raising his voice against the new administration's denigrating of trade pacts including NAFTA and the (now defunct) Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Stories abound of Smith's boldness in creating the company formerly known as Federal Express, and with it, the overnight delivery industry. The decorated Marine aviator, who flew hundreds of combat missions in Vietnam, laid out the idea that became FedEx in an undergraduate paper at Yale, which reportedly earned him a "C" and a note from his professor that the concept was impractical and could never succeed. Having started the firm, without funds to pay a $24,000 fuel bill, he took the company's last $5,000 in cash to Las Vegas and won $27,000, allowing the firm to keep flying. Smith played himself in "Castaway," the 2000 movie starring Tom Hanks.

Next time you routinely send or receive an overnight shipment, spare a thought for the man who made it happen, and is now girding up for a fight to keep borders open and shipments flowing.

Kirk Shearer
800-989-0054 x103

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