Celts Exploring Businesses – FedEx Facility Tour

On Friday March 23, 2018, I had the opportunity to tour one of Houston’s FedEx Facility with one of our very own alumni, John Sullivan. My peers and I were privileged to see shipping in action and learn how FedEx operates their business and facility to ensure that we get our packages in time.

I am currently working as a Graduate Assistant at Cameron School of Business and am grateful for having the opportunity to see what it takes to get our packages where they need to go on time. While we were there, we also met meet numerous employees that work tirelessly to ensure that delivery is made on time and showed us what it takes to become the industry-leading ground shipping service.

 

The Presenter

John Sullivan manages the pick up and delivery (P&D) operations  which coordinates the staff and trucks to ensure successful customer-facing results. He is the man behind organizing and controlling the day-to-day operations of the P&D Department, where he not only has to  resolve challenges faced on a daily basis but also interact with high-revenue, worried clients to ensure them that their packages will get delivered on time and safely.  John proudly recognizes himself as a CSB Alumni and even keeps notebooks containing all the key takeaways from his MBA program at CSB ten years ago. One of the notebooks, he keeps in his office desk at all times, and he reviews it before any client account meeting.

 

The Facility

FedEx’s objective is to maintain fast delivery time and efficient service for their customers, both individuals and companies, and their 300,000 square foot facility in Missouri City shows their commitment to that objective. After we went through security clearance, we walked into the warehouse that housed the shipping operations and FedEx trucks ready for drop offs, pickups and delivery. The warehouse was separated into two parts, an area for where the small trucks picked up for delivery and an area where trucks would drop off packages that required delivery. All of which would be accessible by at least one conveyor belt. The packages would get delivered by 16-foot  trucks, transported by the conveyor belt up to a 360 degree scanner that would automatically sort the packages down through another conveyor to a designated location for the smaller trucks to pick up for delivery. All this, for one package, happens in the matter of a few seconds. At the time that we were there, an hour after the day had began, the conveyor belt had already sorted over 12,000 packages and that was also when just one of the conveyor belts was working! At times when challenges like these arise, John mentioned that they still operate at full capacity with the limited resources that they do have. As John Sullivan mentioned, it’s like “watching poetry in action.”

 

FedEx Operations Key Takeaways

Taking the time to visit a facility such as FedEx provided me with the privilege to understand how they operate in this rapidly changing economy. While e-commerce and Amazon have taken over how people shop online, the impact it has on other businesses has also boosted the business for FedEx and other logistics companies like them. Speed and service capabilities are crucial for them to succeed as customers’ expectations are becoming more demanding.

Another key takeaway was their business model. I was surprise to realize that FedEx doesn’t own any of their trucks nor their drivers. They operate in a Uber-like business model, where they would negotiate and contract the truck and its drivers from other companies that provided them. FedEx, in return, brought to the table their brand name, resources and expertise in logistics and the advancement in technology to get the package delivered fast and efficiently. FedEx focuses on their core competency – being a technologically advanced logistics company without owning any of the trucks or its drivers.

 

Conclusion

Attending a tour such as this not only made me appreciate what it takes to get my next package delivered but also understand how things I have learned in classes play out in an actual business environment within an industry that is so intertwined with our daily lives. John Sullivan assured me that what I am learning in theory and team projects at CSB are all applicable to when I work within any industry, which truly makes me appreciate my journey with CSB even more.

 

Azma Aslam

Cameron School of Business – Candidate for MBA

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