FedEx was inspired by a simple idea: time is money. What began as the thesis for FedEx Corp. Chairman, President, and CEO Frederick W. Smith's Yale University term paper is now a $45 billion global transportation, business services and logistics company.
Express Shipper Finds Overnight Success in the Gateway to the Americas
Since beginning operations in 1973 with 14 small jets out of the Memphis International Airport, FedEx has made American business history several times over. The pioneer of overnight delivery was also the first U.S. company to reach $1 billion in revenue within ten years, demonstrating the kind of unbounded success that’s possible when the right idea is cultivated in the right conditions. Today, the company’s largest operating entity, FedEx Express, continues to raise the standards of transportation, e-commerce and business services. Serving more than 220 countries and territories, FedEx Express brings global access to the masses by positioning its regional headquarters in strategic geographic locations boasting exceptional infrastructure and a talented workforce. You’ll find one of the best examples of this effective strategy for success in Florida, where the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) Division of FedEx Express has grown its hemispheric footprint for more than 25 years.
Exploring New Frontiers
When FedEx Express initiated service to Latin America during the mid-1980s, operations were small. Very small. Working out of a lone commercial office in Miami, FedEx got its start by sending couriers on commercial flights to deliver letters and parcels to the region. The presence of FedEx Express in the Latin American market grew following the acquisition of the Caribbean airline Island Courier in 1987. FedEx further expanded its South American network in 1989 through a merger with cargo airline Flying Tigers, former employer of the current Regional President of FedEx Express LAC Division, Juan N. Cento.
Florida offers great access to multicultural professionals in different industries and sectors, benefitting from a large pool of talent and special qualities and skills in doing business in Latin America.
Juan N. Cento
Regional President, Fedex Latin America and Caribbean Division
During his 26-year tenure at FedEx, Cento has seen first hand how the company and the market it serves have changed since the LAC Division established its regional headquarters in 1996. “To give you an idea of how quickly we’ve grown in Miami, when FedEx Express first opened the headquarters, we had less than 100 employees,” Cento reflected. “Today, the LAC Division has more than 19,000 team members in 50 LAC countries and territories, with more than 300 employees supporting our operations in Miami.” With two of the region’s largest markets—Mexico and Brazil—projecting population gains from 2010 to 2030 to be 14 and 19 percent respectively, the LAC Division’s growth shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.
The Gateway to Global Access
The saying that Miami is the northernmost city in Latin America may be an old one, but it continues to ring true. “Over the past 15 years, I’ve seen South Florida flourish as a strong business bridge to and from the Americas,” said Cento. The proof lies in the numbers. FedEx Express joins more than 1,100 other multinational companies calling South Florida home, with nearly one-third dedicated to serving the Latin American region alone. Throughout the years, Cento has watched international trade opportunities skyrocket as Florida continues to prove itself as a globally competitive market. In fact, if Florida were a country, it would be the 19th-largest economy in the world. For Cento, the benefits of Florida’s commitment to international commerce are clear: “This has generated a highly dynamic economy fueled by domestic and foreign ventures, gaining much more economic power, transforming [the state] into an epicenter for entrepreneurs that stimulates business.”
Connecting with International Networks
Florida’s powerful infrastructure is the strategic linchpin of the FedEx Express LAC Division. Connectivity powerhouses like the Miami International Airport exemplify the state’s top-ranked multimodal transportation system, which has proven to be an invaluable resource for the air cargo company. “The Miami International Airport has been central to our transition from being a products and services provider to becoming a robust solutions-focused player in the industry,” said Cento. In 2004, FedEx fully integrated the airport into its LAC operations when it opened its $50 million “Gateway Hub.” The 23-acre site offers refrigerated storage, on-site U.S. Customs Agents and a sorting capacity of 40,000 packages per day, empowering FedEx LAC to provide turnkey solutions to its rapidly expanding overseas markets. Responsible for 85 percent of air imports and 80 percent of exports from Latin America and the Caribbean, the Miami International Airport handles more international freight than any other airport in the country, ranking ninth worldwide. Beyond Florida’s chain of 19 commercial and more than 100 public-use airports, the state features a rich web of road and rail, and a deepwater seaport within 90 miles of any business.
Attracting Top-flight Talent
Exceptional service is another key component of FedEx’s global success. To support LAC operations, FedEx sought out unique individuals with a strong logistics skill set and deep knowledge of the Latin American region. Thanks to Florida’s 500,000-member logistics and distribution workforce and five million multilingual workers, FedEx had little trouble filling positions. “Florida offers great access to multicultural professionals in different industries and sectors, benefitting from a large pool of talent and special qualities and skills in doing business in Latin America,” said Cento. “It provides a unique advantage for multinational companies … and great opportunities for our customers,” he added. It’s no accident that Florida’s workforce consistently ranks in the country’s top-three (CNBC). With no personal income tax, streamlined regulations and a favorable corporate tax climate, the state continues to attract state-of-the-art companies—and the workers who drive them—year after year. “Florida is laser-focused on our goal of making our state the number-one destination for jobs in the world,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott. “More than 801,000 private-sector jobs have been added in four years, and we will keep working to remove burdensome regulations and cut taxes for families and businesses so job creators like FedEx Express LAC can continue to grow and succeed in Florida.”
Finding the Total Package
From the company’s first days in Florida, FedEx quickly recognized that no other state could secure its position as the undisputed leader in providing transportation and logistics solutions to Latin America. With many other international companies choosing Florida as their hemispheric home base, the international shipping giant isn’t alone in its beliefs. “Florida’s strong infrastructure, diverse workforce and global access make it the ideal location for companies to transport their goods faster to consumers,” said the Florida Secretary of Commerce and President and CEO of Enterprise Florida Bill Johnson. “Florida is big-ship ready, and with more companies like FedEx Express LAC investing in Florida, our state will continue to grow beyond its borders.”