Smith, Frederick W.
EntrepreneurEnshrined 2007 1944-Present
While attending Yale University in the mid-1960’s, Smith wrote an economics class term paper promoting a faster, more dependable and far-reaching kind of delivery system to meet the ever-growing and changing needs of an automated society. As he recalls, the professor was not all that impressed. After enlisting in the Marine Corps, Smith served with distinction in Vietnam as a platoon leader, company commander and forward air controller (FAC). In 1970, at age 27, Smith set about forming the company he had further envisioned since writing that term paper. In April 1973, having established a 25-city network and using a few dozen leased jets to fly empty boxes back and forth as a test, Federal Express officially “went live.”
- Smith learned to fly when he was fifteen years old.
- He flew over 200 missions as a FAC in OV-10 Broncos, adding to Marine Corps citations he earned in ground combat.
- Now serves as chairman, president and chief executive officer of FedEx Corporation, a $35-billion, 275,000-employee company doing business in over 220 countries.
Frederick W. Smith is chairman, president and chief executive officer of FedEx Corporation, a $35-billion global transportation, business services and logistics company.
Smith is responsible for providing strategic direction for all FedEx Corporation operating companies, including FedEx Services, FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight and FedEx Kinko’s. FedEx serves more than 220 countries and territories with operations that include 669 aircraft and over 75,000 vehicles. More than 280,000 employees and independent contractors worldwide handle more than 6.5 million shipments each business day. Since founding FedEx in 1971, Smith has been an active proponent of regulatory reform, free trade and “open skies agreements” for aviation around the world.
FedEx has continued to strengthen its industry leadership over the past 34 years, and has been widely acknowledged for its commitment to total quality service. FedEx Express was the first service company to win the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1990. FedEx has consistently been ranked on FORTUNE magazine’s industry lists, including “World’s Most Admired Companies” and “America’s Most Admired Companies.” FedEx is in the “Hall of Fame” for claiming a spot on the “100 Best Companies to Work For” list consecutively from 1998-2006.”
Smith has served on the boards of several large public companies and the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Mayo Foundation Boards. He was formerly chairman of the Board of Governors for the International Air Transport Association and the U.S. Air Transport Association. Smith is a member of the Business Roundtable and the CATO Institute. He served as chairman of the U.S.-China Business Council and is the current chairman of the French-American Business Council. In addition, Smith was named 2006 Person of the Year by the French-American Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the Aviation Hall of Fame, served as co-chairman of the U.S. World War II Memorial Project, and was named CHIEF EXECUTIVE magazine’s 2004 “CEO of the Year.”
Born in 1944 in Marks, Miss., Smith attended Yale University, where he earned a B.A. in 1966. Smith served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1966-1970.
Biography courtesy of FedEx Corporation.