Frederick W. Smith
Call it genetic predetermination: FedEx CEO Frederick W. Smith’s father built a regional bus line, and his grandfather was a steamboat captain. As a teenager, Smith began flying. While studying at Yale University, he flew charter flights transporting students and goods on the weekend to make extra cash.
So it’s little surprise that Smith set out to make his fortune by starting up an express delivery service that would come to be called Federal Express. Combining $4 million he inherited from his father and another $80 million he raised from venture capitalists, Smith launched the service in early 1973. When it started it handled 186 packages. Today, FedEx is the world’s largest express transportation company and has a civil fleet of 672 aircraft.
Smith has served on the boards of several large public companies and the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Mayo Foundation Boards. He was formerly chairman of the board of governors for the International Air Transport Association and the U.S. Air Transport Association.
Smith is a member of the Business Roundtable, the CATO Institute, and is co-chairman of the Energy Security Leadership Council. He is a member of the Aviation Hall of Fame. He served as co-chairman of the U.S. World War II Memorial Project. And he was named Chief Executive magazine’s 2004 “CEO of the Year.”
Born in 1944 in Marks, Miss., earned a bachelor of arts degree from Yale in 1966. He then served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1966 to 1970.