Changing How the World Does Business | Roger Frock

Summary of: Changing How the World Does Business: Fedex’s Incredible Journey to Success – The Inside Story
By: Roger Frock


Dive into the phenomenal journey of Federal Express, a company that transformed the concept of package delivery and changed the world. From its humble beginnings in Little Rock, Arkansas, to its current empire spanning more than 200 countries, FedEx’s rise to success was anything but easy. The spirit of innovation and the bold leadership of founder Frederick Wallace Smith revolutionized the delivery industry with the creation of the hub-and-spokes network, which enabled faster and more reliable package transport. In this summary, you’ll explore the tumultuous early days, exhaustive planning, federal regulations hurdles and the resilience that paved the way for a global brand, and you’ll understand how FedEx became an indispensable part of our lives.

The Rise of FedEx

FedEx Corporation’s success is remarkable despite the challenges they faced starting with their revolutionary “hub-and-spokes” network for package sorting and delivery. Founder Frederick Wallace Smith’s idea in 1972 was considered unviable due to federal regulations that prohibited nationwide delivery service. Nevertheless, the company garnered annual revenues exceeding $30 billion, handles around six million packages daily, employs more than 250,000 people and operates some 600 airplanes and 70,000 vans and trucks to serve more than 200 countries. The FedEx story showcases meticulous planning, flexibility, and bold thinking necessary to pioneer a new industry.

The FedEx Story

Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, began his career by buying Arkansas Aviation Sales, which was a daytime jet maintenance operation. But Fred was determined to make something big. His unique approach to parcel delivery was conceived while writing a paper during his sophomore year in college, and it eventually resulted in the formation of FedEx. Fred anticipated the need of quick, reliable, and affordable package delivery services and decided to create an air courier service for the delivery of federal bonds. Although initially rejected by the Federal Reserve, Fred eventually convinced his sisters and directors of a $14 million trust fund to guarantee a loan for two French-made Dassault Falcon 20 Fan Jets, which he then used to start his business venture, Federal Express. Today, FedEx is recognized as a game-changer in the delivery industry, enabling established businesses to expand their services worldwide and empowering small scale companies to perform like big corporate giants.

The Birth of FedEx

The story of the founding of FedEx starts with Smith hiring Roger Frock to conduct a feasibility study which proved that a priority package delivery service was financially feasible. Frock was unaware that Smith had commissioned a second marketing study, which also demonstrated a clear need for a fly-all-night delivery service. To attract financing and management, Smith realized they needed an experienced top executive and offered the job to Frock, who became general manager and head of operations. To design the logo, Smith found Rick Runyon, a young and ambitious designer, who came up with the purple, orange, and white design now known worldwide. Though Federal Express purchased eight used Falcons, it had to become an air taxi before operating as a delivery service, and it received its operating certificate on March 7, 1972, after facing battles with bureaucracy.

The Birth of FedEx

A group of “crazies” led by Frock assembled a team and took on the challenge of creating a new kind of package delivery service. They leased planes, opened a flight school, and lobbied the government to modify regulations. Despite the obstacles, they succeeded and generated $300,000 a month with mail runs. To deliver nonpostal packages, they obtained an exemption from regulations and opened a pilot training facility. The company had 141 flights by December 1972 and subsequently moved its operations to Memphis.

The Birth of FedEx

In the early 1970s, FedEx founder Fred Smith negotiated a delay in purchasing Pan Am Airline’s Falcons as his company approached bankruptcy, yet he needed $20 million to launch the delivery service. With the help of White, Weld & Company, Smith raised the funds and dispatched “sales blitz teams” to promote the service. In March 1973, FedEx began delivering packages to ten initial routes, with focus on reliability as the cornerstone of success. This focus formulated the company culture that prioritizes “People, Service, Profit.”

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