Fred Smith (Full name Frederick Wallace Smith) was born in Marks in Mississippi on 11th August 1944 and became a billionaire by founding FedEx. FedEx, originally known as Federal Express was the first express overnight delivery company on the globe and is now the largest company delivery company in America. The headquarters of the FedEx are in Memphis, Tennessee and Smith currently works as the Chairman, President and CEO of the company.
From a young age Smith expressed an immense interest in flying and so he trained to become an amateur pilot when he was a teenager. He went to the elementary school Presbyterian Day School and the high school Memphis University School. In 1962 he went to Yale University where he became friends with George W Bush and John Kerry. In an economics class he wrote a paper for a plan for an overnight delivery service to be used in a time when computer use was widespread. This paper became the inspiration for FedEx. In 1966 he got a Bachelor’s degree in economics. After he graduated he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served for four years as a platoon leader and a forward air controller (FAC). His time in the Marines allowed him to observe the military’s logistics system and to see how the procurement and delivery procedures worked.
In 1970 he bought the controlling interest in an aircraft maintenance company called Ark Aviation Sales. By 1971 he had changed its business aim to trading used jets. On 18th June 1971 Smith founded Federal Express with the $4 million he had inherited from his father who was the founder of the Toddle House restaurant chain and the Smith Motor Coach Company which was later renamed the Dixie Greyhound Lines when it was bought by The Greyhound Corporation in 1931. This amount of money is worth about $21 million in 2008 dollars. He managed to raise $91 million in venture capital (around $484 million in 2008 dollars). By 1973 the company was offering their services to 25 cities and used a fleet of 14 Falcon 20 jets. By 1980 they were offering their services to 90 more cities and by 1983 had reached $1 billion in sales.
Smith also is the co-owner of the Washington Redskins NFL team and his son is the coach to the Washington Redskins. Smith furthermore owns Dream Image Productions and Alcon Films.