Fred Smith and Malcom Mc Lean


To be creative and innovative does not mean success comes the next day after the creative thought.  It takes time and determination for the good ideas thought of to be implemented and success yielded out of them.  Malcom Mc Lean and and Fred Smith are two great people who developed their companies and became successful through determination and creative thinking over a period of time.

Fred smith was born in Marks, Mississippi, in the year 1944 to a father who was also a great business man, a founder of a restaurant chain.  He was an economics student at Yale University where the first thought of his successful Fred Ex Company originated.  He wrote a paper about overnight delivery which only earned him a grade of ‘C’.  It seems, in Fred’s mind  at the time of writing the paper, that this was a long term project and not just a paper to be submitted for marks awards (Academy of Achievement, 2008).

Fred went further and monitored the mail delivery system in Vietnam where he was serving as a marine pilot.  After living this place Fred started the Fred Ex Company with some money that he had saved and the inheritance money.  Fred Ex is a company that deals with overnight mail delivery.

It was started in the year 1971 and has progressed since then until currently has an overnight mail contract with the United States Postal service.  In the beginning years, Fred Ex made some losses of about $ 27 million dollars.  Fred smith, a determined person in his idea of overnight delivery system never gave up, but instead looked for loans and made sure that the company never went down.  Fred Smith is still the Fred Ex CEO, president and chairman (Academy of Achievement, 2008).

Malcom Mc Lean is the founder of the converted tanker, the ‘IDEAL X’.  This ‘IDEAL X’ idea came to Malcom in the 1930’s when he took his truck with cotton bales to be unloaded for transportation by ship.  Malcom saw that the time and money the people spent on unloading the cotton bales to the ship and again unloading the slings in the ship to the hold on the ship, was a waste.  He thought of an idea of just having all the cotton bales being put into the ship without having to do all the unloading and the loading.  He thought this idea if implemented would save the time and money (Containership, 1999).

 It is from this situation that in 1934, the McLean Trucking Company was formed.  This company was formed on the idea that the bulk carried by trucks could be carried on containers to the ships without unloading.  In 1995, Malcom converted six of the vessels he had bought from the Pan Atlantic Steamship to carry containers on the decks.  These are the vessels Malcom called the ‘IDEAL X’ (World war II converted Tanker) (Containership, 1999).

 These two people obtained ideas and made sure that their ideas were implemented and successful by taking action and investing on their own ideas.  They both obtained ideas from the living situations.  Malcom invested on containerization idea while Fred invested on his economics’ class paper idea on overnight mail.  Fred Smith had monitored how mails were delivered and wrote a paper on how overnight delivery system could help the situation.  He went further and monitored the mail delivery system where he worked.

Fred Ex is very successful currently as have been indicated and holds a contract with the United States Postal service (Academy of Achievement, 2008).  It did not take just a day to implement this Fred’s idea and make it work.  It took a lot of time and Smith’s determination for this company to be in its current state.  At one time the company made loses and would have gone down if not for the creativity of Smith and his determination to make it what he wanted it to be.

Malcom also shows some determination in implementing his idea just obtained from a routine duty.  He had the idea almost twenty years before implementing it.  It took a lot of time for him to buy the vessels and implement the containerization idea.  He had also proposed that for easy transportation, the vessels should also have a standard size in every world.

From the above comparison, it is evident that these people have great minds and determination.


Academy of Achievement. (2008). Fred Smith’s Biography: Museum of living history.       Washington DC. Retrieved on August, 30 2008 from <>.

Maritime Magazine. (1999, October). Containership History.  Reports of Maritime Activists. Retrieved on August 30, 2008 from <>.