Federal Express (FedEx) is a company that offers overnight courier and logistics services. The company was founded in 1971 by former US Marine Frederick W. Smith in Memphis, Tennessee, and began operations in 1973. The name was chosen to symbolize a national marketplace, and help in obtaining government contracts. The company, the first cargo airline to use jet airplanes for its services, expanded greatly after the deregulation of the cargo airlines sector. FedEx pioneered use of the spoke-hub distribution paradigm in air freight, which enabled it to become a world leader in its field. The company operates most of its US overnight freight through its Memphis hub; thus packages from one side of your town to another might find the fastest way via Memphis.

Loading a Federal Express A300-600 aircraft.

In 1989 the company acquired Flying Tigers, an international cargo airline. In January 1998 Federal Express acquired Caliber System, Inc, bringing in a number of units. It acquired Viking Freight and American Freightways.

It is now organized into a number of operating units:

  • FedEx Express (The original overnight courier services)
  • FedEx Freight East - Less than truckload (LTL) services (formerly American Freightways)
  • FedEx Freight West - (formerly Viking Freight)
  • FedEx Ground - including slower speed, heavier freight services to businesses and homes (formerly Roadway Package Services or RPS)
  • FedEx Home Delivery - A division of FedEx Ground that is exclusive to home delivery.
  • FedEx Custom Critical - non-stop door-door delivery (formerly Roberts Express)
  • FedEx Trade Networks - trade and shipping planning on non-FedEx carriers
  • FedEx Services - an internal to FedEx unit

  • The company made famous the line "Absolutely, Positively" for their overnight service.

Major competitors include DHL, UPS, and USPS.

Other facts of interest

  • The movie Cast Away, based on the story Robinson Crusoe, is about a Federal Express employee who survived a plane crash and subsequently became stranded on an island.
  • Company operating officer Jim Barksdale went on to lead Netscape.
  • "The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C', the idea must be feasible." A Yale University management professor comments on Fred Smith's class paper proposing what became Federal Express. 

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