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Celebrating 50 Years Of FedEx

By FedEx | April 28, 2023

50 years ago on April 17, 1973, FedEx began operations in Memphis, Tennessee. Time definite express delivery services transformed how business is conducted internationally. It also opened up new possibilities for economic development for communities around the world.

1973 was an important year that transformed how connections were made between people and businesses around the world. In many ways it was the start of a new era, one that opened up new possibilities.

On the streets of New York City, the first mobile phone call was made on a device that certainly wouldn’t fit in your pocket! Today there are more mobile phones than people on the planet and they are essential tools for entertainment, e-commerce and conducting business as well as conventional communications.

Also, on April 17th that same year, FedEx began operations in Memphis, Tennessee and delivered 186 packages to 25 US cities using 14 aircraft. Connecting businesses with overnight time definite delivery was a new and unique service offering. Businesses quickly realized how speed and reliability could transform their daily operations. On average we handle 16M packages every single day and are so much part of the fabric of global trade, our company name is now a verb.
Historical image of FedEx Express van and airplane

Ingredients for success

Since then, we’ve expanded and invested in our network to provide the reliability our customers depend on wherever they are and wherever they want to ship to. We began operations in Asia Pacific in 1984, in the Middle East in 1989, in India in 1997 and South Africa in 2014. We now connect more than 220 countries and territories around the world.

Beyond our network, there are two other essential ingredients that have been critical to making FedEx so successful: an innovation mindset and our people.

To consistently deliver time definite express shipping we had to literally invent parcel tracking. We’ve always said that the information about a package is as important as the package itself. Each package is scanned multiple times on the journey to its destination and we receive more than 600M package status tracking requests every day.

Digital technology has always fuelled our innovation mindset. We are now applying sensor technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to mitigate any possible delivery delays for temperature sensitive shipments before they occur. We’re also putting that other game changing invention of 1973 – the mobile phone – to good to use. You can now use your smartphone to schedule a pick-up from your office or even home address, chat with FedEx on WhatsApp to help manage your delivery in near real time as well as receive picture proof of delivery to your front door.

FedEx remains a people first organization. Technology is important but it is our people that underpin the whole value chain. We work hard to build an equal and equitable workplace where people take ownership of taking care of each other and making every customer experience outstanding. If we are committed to delivering great service for our customers that allows us to build our business.
A FedEx Express staff working on delivery arrangement

Trade is our business

FedEx has always had a front row seat in how global trade works and much of it is being driven by small businesses. According to the World Bank they represent 90% of all businesses, 50% of employment and 40% of the national GDP in emerging economies like we have here in the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) region.1

To sustain global trade the next generation of global business leaders needs to be supported and we work hard to do just that. We run programs across the region teaching the fundamentals of global trade and entrepreneurism to school children to inspire them because it’s not a subject that is often taught in schools. We also run our Small Business Grant Contest to give small business owners a leg up in the form of a cash prize to help them on the road to success.

What we are building is a mutually self-supporting network that starts in the classroom and encourages business development, supply chain innovation and global trade. That, ultimately, opens new possibilities for the economic development of communities all around the world.

Delivering the future

Our role supporting communities as an essential service provider is always thrown into sharp focus following natural disasters when we ship critical aid to those in need as we did recently for victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. During the COVID pandemic we shipped vital medical supplies as well as vaccines all around the world. We donate our aircraft to support essential shipments like these and our people are also happy to donate their time to help grass roots causes in their own back yards. Earlier this year we made good on our commitment made in 2019 to positively impact 50 million people before our 50th birthday.

As much as we hold our duty of care to the community, we hold a similar duty to protecting our planet. That is why our team members help in community projects to make our world more sustainable through tree planting and beach cleaning. We also committed an initial investment of $2B to making our own operations carbon neutral operations by 2040. This is a bold target that will drive our future which we will achieve through the electrification of our fleets, sustainable energy and carbon sequestration.
A FedEx Express staff delivering parcel to customer

Creating what’s next

FedEx was originally established to solve a very fundamental business need – international express shipping. As we mark our 50th anniversary, we are embarking on a new beginning transforming our business for what’s next. Our strategy is simple – we are looking at the needs of our customers to determine where to invest and building the technology solutions to support them. Digital tools like AI, IoT, big data and automation will help us innovate and integrate our physical and digital networks. But we will continue to put our people first to create smarter and more sustainable supply chains for our customers, keep them connected to international trade and create a better world for all.
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