Here Is an Inside Look at the Story of FedEx

a FedEx delivery truck.

A Look Into FedEx

When you think of FedEx, you probably imagine a company that handles shipping and courier delivery services from almost every corner of the world. There is, however, more than meets the eye when it comes to this market leader.

FedEx has been in business for more than 45 years. This corporation boasts an annual revenue of $84 billion and operations in at least 220 countries.

As of January 2022, Value. Today ranked FedEx at 248 on the World Top 1,000 Companies list, and it stands at 115 among United States firms.

Don’t mistake this giant company for an overnight success. How did FedEx grow to become the multi-billion-dollar corporation that we know today? Stick around to find out.


Like every other business, FedEx started as an idea. But unlike every other business, the goal behind this corporation wasn’t profit. Instead, it was to pass an economics term paper.

The story of FedEx begins in 1965 when Frederick W. Smith, the founder, wrote a paper detailing his idea for an overnight delivery service.

Smith believed speed matters more than cost when it comes to shipments, and that couriers should strive to access smaller cities. His solution was to conduct deliveries from one hub and use private aircraft instead of relying on commercial airlines.

Smith probably had no clue that his term paper would turn into a reality. He was an undergraduate at Yale University, and all he wanted was to get a good grade.

Smith received an average grade on the term paper, and his idea remained just that until 1971 when he turned it into a business.

Frederick W. Smith founded FedEx in 1971 as Federal Express Corporation using his inheritance of $4 million and $91 million in venture capital funds.

The concept behind FedEx’s idea was so unique at the time that external funding was easy to obtain. He did, however, struggle to get the startup off the ground.

Like the idea on his term paper, Smith wanted a company that handles shipments from one hub and utilizes its aircraft rather than relying on commercial airlines, as most couriers did at the time.

By having its fleet of planes, FedEx could set its delivery schedule and not have to abide by commercial airline regulations.

The company could have more control over its courier services and ensure customers receive their packages quickly and timely.

Smith chose Little Rock National Airport in Kansas as the company’s first base of operations.

He later realized that this airport was not in a central location and thus moved operations to the Memphis Airport in 1973.

At the time, FedEx had only 389 employees and 14 small Dassault Falcon aircraft. At the time, the company handled deliveries in 25 cities.


FedEx has only one founder, Frederick W. Smith. Born in 1944, Smith launched FedEx when he was 27 years old. He had just returned from serving as a Marine pilot in Vietnam.

Smith served as the company’s CEO from its launch until March 2022, when he stepped down.

Smith currently serves as the executive chairman of the board of directors. He focuses on board governance, innovations, public policy, and sustainability issues.

Company Setbacks

FedEx faced a couple of setbacks throughout its growth phase. The first hurdle came in its first two years in business when Fred Smith chose Little Rock National Airport as the base of operations.

This airport was not the ideal location for deliveries, and the decision cost the company a lot of money. Fortunately, Smith didn’t take too long to figure this out and relocated FedEx’s operations to Memphis Airport in 1973.

Despite moving to Memphis Airport, FedEx still lost millions of dollars due to the rising fuel and air travel costs. It suffered a $29 million loss between 1973 and 1974 and another $11.5 million in 1975.

The situation was so bad that FedEx investors contemplated removing Smith as the CEO, but Arthur Bass, the company’s president, convinced them otherwise.

The ultimate solution was to improve delivery schedules and increase flight volumes, which FedEx did with the help of Arthur Bass.

This move allowed the company to increase shipping to 19,000 packages daily and make its first-ever profit worth $3.6 million in 1976.

FedEx suffered yet another setback when it launched ZapMail in 1984. At the time, courier Paks were the biggest profit generator in the company, amounting to 40% of total revenue.

Customers used courier Paks to ship envelopes, tubes, and boxes. Smith realized that 15% of the contents would, in the future, be transmitted using telephones and other technologies.

To stay ahead of the curve, FedEx developed and launched its electronic-mail system and named it ZapMail. The company invested $100 million on this project before abandoning it two years later.

ZapMail had a lot of technical problems. It also suffered line disturbances during transmissions, and customers considered it more expensive than fax machines. By 1986, FedEx had lost $340 million to ZapMail.

Company Successes

The first success that FedEx experienced was in 1977 when the government passed a bill to deregulate the airline industry.

From 1971 to 1976, FedEx and other commercial airlines were required to use numerous small Falcon jets when using fewer larger aircraft would have made more financial sense.

Deregulation enabled FedEx to increase volume and keep costs low by purchasing larger planes such as 727s and DC-10s.

This move was evident in the $8 million profit the company generated in 1977 alone.

FedEx went public in 1978, enabling the company to raise $258 million from its IPO.

This money allowed FedEx to expand its operations to more than 89 cities in the United States and put the company in direct competition with one of the big names in logistics, the U.S. Postal Service.

To increase market share, FedEx launched its overnight delivery service. This allowed customers to ship parcels and letters and have them arrive within 12 hours.

The success of overnight delivery gave FedEx the confidence to pursue international markets. While entrance into foreign markets was, by no means, without struggle, the company launched operations in at least 90 countries and tripled its profits by the 1990s.

Business Strategies

FedEx’s business strategy was its biggest advantage over its competitors in all those years.

The company’s focus on speed and timely deliveries made customers prefer it over rivals like Emery Airborne Freight and Purolator Courier, which still relied on commercial airlines to handle shipments.

In 1981, Emery attempted to copy FedEx’s strategy by buying aircraft and launching overnight delivery.

FedEx, however, still had a competitive edge over Emery and others in that it could access smaller cities, yet another of the company’s business strategies.

Lessons Learned

What lessons can we pick up from FedEx’s story? Well, there are many, but here are the most appealing ones.

1. Don’t be afraid to take risks

Frederick W. Smith’s idea required a significant amount of investment. He was willing to take the chance by investing $4 million of his own money to get his idea off the ground.

Many people would have found his venture too risky an investment, considering the millions of dollars it required to start. Launching a business requires a certain proportion of risk. Don’t be afraid to take it, when you have a solid business plan.

2. Persevere

FedEx suffered many losses and hurdles throughout its growth, from ZapMail to stiff competition to enter foreign markets.

Despite these setbacks, the company still soldiered on to become the giant courier service it is today. Don’t let challenges and obstacles holding you back from achieving your goals. Keep moving forward.

3. Innovate

This story of FedEx has many instances where the company innovated and expanded its business. At no point did FedEx stagnate and become comfortable with the way things were.

For example, FedEx bought larger planes to increase volume per flight.

It launched the courier Paks and overnight letter services and expanded into many cities within the United States and eventually into foreign markets. Don’t stop innovating, growing, and expanding your company. Dream bigger.

4. Find your edge over competitors

FedEx’s edge over its competitors was in its business strategy. While most competitors focused on cost, FedEx concentrated on speed and on-time delivery.

The company’s ability to deliver packages quickly and access smaller cities made it the customers’ preferred choice.

Find out what consumers want that your competitors are not offering, then utilize that opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.



Frederick Smith launches Federal Express Corporation.


Federal Express moves operations to Memphis Airport and conducts overnight shipping in 25 cities.


The Airline Deregulation Act allows Federal Express to buy larger aircraft and transport more volumes.


Federal Express goes public on the New York Stock Exchange.


Federal Express launches the overnight delivery service.


Federal Express launches ZapMail (but abandons this program two years later.)


Federal Express opens a European hub in Brussels in an attempt to expand into Europe.


Federal Express acquires Tiger International, Inc. for $883 million to expand into international markets.


Federal Express changes its name to FedEx.


FedEx changes to FDX Corporations and buys Caliber System, Inc.


FDX Corporation reverts its name to FedEx Corporation.


FedEx structures and rebrands its acquisitions into FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Custom Critical, and FedEx Freight.


In this section, you’ll find a collection of resources that can broaden your understanding of FedEx.

In addition, many of the links lead to Google search results to ensure you always have the latest and most popular results anytime you visit this page.

Executive Team

If you’re interested in who currently runs FedEx, the link below offers the latest search results. You’ll be able to get insights into who is currently in charge as well as those who have moved on.

Some of those articles will also consider the contributions and changes made over the years.

Have a look at the latest search results for the executive team of FedEx.

Working at FedEx

If you’re considering a career at FedEx, the link below offers a collection of resources that can give you an idea of what it’s like to work for FedEx.

Many career-based sites offer reviews from people who have experience working at the company.

I suggest you keep an open mind because people experience events differently. For example, one person may think it’s the best place to work while others don’t have a good experience.

See the latest search results for working at FedEx.

Complaints and Lawsuits

I find it interesting to look into complaints and pending lawsuits of a company. It offers insights into how the company operates and offers the opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes.

Learning from mistakes is one of the best ways to learn, and learning from others’ mistakes allows you to learn without the pain.

See the latest search results for Complaints and Lawsuits related to FedEx.

Company Financials

FedEx being a public company, must disclose financial information to the public.

Therefore if you are interested, the link below leads to the latest search result with the most relevant and updated information available.

See the latest search results for FedEx financials.

FedEx Resources

Below are a few links leading to some of the most searched-for terms related to FedEx. Some lead directly to the FedEx websites. Others are search results, so you receive information relevant to your area.


FedEx Tracking Phone Number

FedEx Tracking Number Lookup


FedEx Drop-Off Locations

Box Sizes

FedEx Box Sizes

Customer Service

FedEx Customer Service

FedEx Customer Service Hours

FedEx Phone Number

FedEx Lost Package


FedEx Careers


FedEx Login


It wouldn’t be right not to include a section for facts about FedEx. Looking at them gives you a broader understanding of the company.

I like to look at facts because they interest me and complete the story. You can also look into those you find intriguing.

I could list all the facts about FedEx here, but instead, if you use the link below, you’ll always have the latest and most popular ones anytime you use this page.

See the latest search results for facts about FedEx.


If you want to drill down more into the world of FedEx, then checking out books about the company and its leaders is another way to understand it.

If you want to take a few minutes, look at some of the most popular books related to FedEx.

View the most recent Google search results for books related to FedEx.


The news is an excellent way to stay up-to-date with current information. I like using Google News.

I type in my keywords, and I have an instant list of news articles, from the most present to archived stories I can explore.

See Google’s news search results related to FedEx.

YouTube Videos

YouTube is another great asset for staying informed. You can find many videos related to FedEx.

Spending a few minutes on the site allows you to expand your knowledge while watching a video.

Some people like to read, others prefer listing, and others like me prefer video content.

See the most recent videos related to FedEx.