Frederick Wallace Smith was born August 11, 1944 in Marks, Mississippi. Soon after the family moved to Memphis. Smith’s father was a success himself who actually founded Dixie Greyhound Bus Lines. Fred was named after his father who dabbled in a number of different endeavors in addition to the bus line. Fred Smith Sr. and the young Fred’s older brother established the Toddle House Restaurant chain. Sadly the Senior Smith passed away when Fred was only four.
As a child Fred Smith suffered from Calve Perthes disease which caused him to have to rely on crutches and braces. By the time he was ten though, he had overcome this disability. As a young boy he attended Memphis University Prep and participated in athletics. He was also an excellent student who actually became an amateur pilot. Business was in his veins though and he along with some friends started Ardent Records in Memphis.
While at Yale he studied economics and political science. As a foreshadow for future events he wrote a paper concerning an overnight delivery service. After graduating in 1966, Smith served two tours with the U.S. Marines during the Vietnam War.
In 1971 Fred Smith returned home and decided to start a new business venture. He launched Federal Express with his own money. Starting with a 25 city network on April 17, 1973 Federal Express proved to be successful. To keep his new venture going Smith raised $90 million in venture capital from investors like Allstate and Newport Securities. Through the next two decades the company grew, but always maintained the principles of estimated arrival times and prompt deliveries. To stay competitive with the United Parcel Service, Federal Express bought a trucking company. By the turn of the century Fed Ex was worth an estimated $16 billion with 584 planes and 38,500 trucks.
The main hub for Fed Ex remains in Memphis and Fred Smith continues to make that city the center of his operations. His personal net worth is over $5.4 billion. That deserves a Good Job! for a little Delta boy from Quitman County, Mississippi.
Frederick W. Smith | Britannica.com
Fred Smith – Biography The Road to Fed Ex
Frederick W. Smith | Tennessee Encyclopedia