FedEx Trade Networks is a bundle of value for customers
Jack Muhs, the new president and CEO of FedEx Trade Networks, has been on the job since February 2014. A veteran of FedEx Express operations for 27 years, Muhs brings a wealth of international experience to an operating company on the fast track. We caught up with him in his Memphis office to get his thoughts on his new responsibilities.
You’ve had a long and exciting career with FedEx — how did it start?
I’m from North Dakota — that’s where I started out as a ramp handler. Most recently, I was senior vice president of U.S. and International Global Trade Services. My job was managing the day-to-day operations of our aircraft schedules, as well as customs clearance operations for FedEx Express customers worldwide. The past few years, I was fortunate to have worked side by side with FedEx Trade Networks team members to develop commercial line-haul solutions for FedEx Express.
How would you describe the role of FedEx Trade Networks in the FedEx portfolio?
As the freight forwarding arm of FedEx, we sit at the nexus of the FedEx operating companies. That means we can connect them in many ways that benefit our customers. Because we don’t own assets like trucks or aircraft, we create custom supply chain solutions using combinations of FedEx Express®, FedEx Ground® and FedEx Freight® services, as well as container ships, other carriers and multiple providers. Additionally, as the largest-volume customs entry filer in North America, we provide customs clearance services for both FedEx Express and FedEx Ground. In other locations globally, clearance is just one of many value-added services we offer our customers.
What do customers value most about FedEx Trade Networks?
Beyond global access and reliability, customers are increasingly calling upon us to provide safe, secure and compliant shipping, and FedEx is well known for all of these attributes. First, our global footprint gives customers access to the markets and materials they need to be competitive. Many freight forwarders focus on specific regions, modes or commodities, in differing broader services. As a result, we have a tremendous competitive advantage here. Second, reliability is critical because it gives customers control over their supply chain. Third, our daily commitment to ensuring safe and compliant shipping is supported throughout the entire organization and is overseen by some of the most experienced regulatory professionals in this industry.
Give us an example of what FedEx Trade Networks does for customers.
Online shopping is exploding around the world, so we’re aggressively developing solutions to make e-commerce easier for everyone. Say a company needs to get lightweight electronics manufactured in Asia to U.S. consumers. Utilizing the FedEx International DirectDistribution e-commerce solution, shippers can get FedEx service at an economical price.
Global supply chains have been going through dramatic changes given the high cost of fuel. How do you help customers deal with this issue?
No doubt, customers are definitely more price sensitive than ever. Fortunately, the FedEx portfolio provides customers a range of services at a price that fits their budgets. Our strategy is to put the right freight into the right network at the right price — it’s good for the customer, but also profitable for FedEx. Providing world-class service is also a high priority for us. Each of our team members strives to deliver a true FedEx experience that makes customers more efficient and their lives easier.
Describe the freight forwarding opportunity in the marketplace — what’s the upside?
We have momentum in a huge market worth $163 billion that’s pretty evenly split between air and ocean freight forwarding. Five years ago, we were in the U.S. and Canada, and our business was mostly customs brokerage. Today, our business is mostly ocean and air freight forwarding, thanks to the presence we’ve established in 27 countries with more than 70 offices outside the U.S.
What are your plans for FedEx Trade Networks?
We’re making great progress. Shipment volumes are up, operating revenue is increasing and productivity is also up. Customers expect consistency from the FedEx brand and great service, so we’re going to use Quality Driven Management (QDM) to help make our processes more consistent worldwide and make sure we’re taking even better care of our customers.
Tell us a little about your life outside work.
When I’m with people, I feel energy and excitement. I like doing what they like to do and going where they like to go. With my sons, I hunt and fish and participate in sports. Personally, I enjoy getting out and playing a little golf. [Jack played in the St. Jude Pro-Am just before this interview and reported that he did “OK” once he got past the first hole.]