FedEx Express, the largest division of parent company FedEx Corp., began providing air courier service to customers in the Caribbean and Latin America in the mid-1980s, working from a single commercial office in Miami and using FedEx couriers to carry packages and envelopes to different destinations on commercial flights.
The company’s regional service gained altitude — and expanded its reach significantly — after FedEx acquired two cargo airlines: Island Courier in 1987 and the Flying Tiger Line in 1989. The Flying Tiger Line was a major international air cargo carrier and added an extensive network in Latin America and other parts of the world to FedEx’s system, while Island Courier gave FedEx a large operating network in the Caribbean.
Juan N. Cento, an executive at the “Flying Tigers,” joined FedEx at the time of the acquisition and began working to expand its regional express business, first as managing director for South and Central America and later as vice president for Mexico and Central America.
Cento, who arrived in Miami from Cuba in 1960 and was raised here, was appointed president of the FedEx Express Latin America and Caribbean division (LAC) in 2000.
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Since then, he has played a key role in growing the company’s regional footprint, adding new flights, destinations and offices, offering innovative products, overseeing important acquisitions and promoting investments to meet the growing demand for courier and cargo services.
The company now has more than 19,000 employees and provides services to 50 countries and territories.
“FedEx is committed to providing the access necessary to support economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Cento, who is based at the Miami regional headquarters, now employing more than 300, up from about 100 when it first opened in 1996.
“Our investments and insights, backed by our network strength and service-centric team members, enable businesses of all sizes in LAC markets from Mexico to Brazil and beyond to engage with and drive the world’s marketplace each and every day,” said Cento, who earned a degree in business administration from Florida International University.
FedEx Express moves envelopes, packages and freight to and from the region by air, offering a variety of priority and time-definite delivery services. It also includes international trade and supply chain services for customers, as well as delivery to customers by land. The parent, FedEx Corp., has other divisions — ground, freight and corporate and retail services (FedEx Office).
Miami International Airport handles an average of 14 FedEx landings and departures per day, just for Latin America and the Caribbean. FedEx packages and cargo also move to and from the region on commercial flights.
About 70 percent of FedEx shipments to and from Latin America and the Caribbean are packages and freight, while the remaining 30 percent are letters.
The company currently has more than 100 flights per week originating in Latin America and the Caribbean, and a fleet of more than 2,900 delivery vehicles in the region.
FedEx has been able to grow its regional business steadily over the years through a combination of new investments, service innovations, technology and strategic acquisitions. It works in a crowded industry, competing with companies like UPS, DHL and regional carriers.
Aside from steadily adding new flights and opening new FedEx offices to expand its reach in large urban centers and provincial cities, the company has introduced a range of services, including a variety of time-sensitive delivery services, temperature-controlled packaging and shipping, mobile tracking capability for customers and an online tool that allows small and mid-sized regional businesses to export to complex international markets (Global Trade Manager).
Moreover, FedEx has made investments to expand its package sorting capacity at its Miami hub and has committed hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire businesses in Mexico and Brazil, its two largest regional markets.
In Mexico, FedEx acquired MultiPack, a large domestic express package delivery company, for $128 million in 2011. This acquisition significantly expanded the company’s reach and enhanced its brand, adding 48 distribution centers, 13 warehouses and more than 500 retail outlets.
FedEx also built a new processing hub near Mexico City, which now ranks as the most advanced FedEx Express distribution center in Latin America, the company said.
In 2012, FedEx bought Rapidão Cometa, one of Brazil’s largest transportation and logistics companies, for $398 million. This acquisition added 45 branch operations, about 145 distribution points, 770 vehicles and trailers and 9,000 employees.
In the rapidly growing Colombian market, FedEx launched a new domestic service — FedEx Express Nacional — and added 130 destinations to its existing international freight service.
FedEx Corp. reported global revenues of $45.6 billion in fiscal year 2014, and FedEx Express worldwide generated $27 billion of the total. The company does not provide a breakdown of its regional sales, but Cento was optimistic about continued growth prospects for his division.
“Mexico and Brazil have a projected population growth of 19 percent and 14 percent, respectively, between 2010 and 2030, therefore providing large growth opportunities in the region,” Cento noted.
“Brazil is the seventh-largest economy in the world, and its rapidly increasing middle class presents a tremendous opportunity for FedEx Express.”
Mexico also holds “great opportunity” for the company, he added, since it has become “a preferred destination for nearshoring,” or locating manufacturing closer to the U.S. rather than in Asia. Any industry can take advantage of nearshoring and cut transit times, thereby improving supply chain efficiency.
The automotive, aerospace, high-tech and textile industries have already invested heavily in nearshoring operations in Mexico, and the trend will continue, he added. All of these sectors need transportation, logistics and other services that FedEx can supply.
“We’ve transformed our business from being a product and service provider to a robust, solutions-focused player in the industry,” Cento said.
“FedEx has become a vital avenue in the movement of goods from/to the Latin America and Caribbean region. FedEx connects Latin America to the world.”
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Business: The FedEx Express Latin America and Caribbean division, based in Miami, moves envelopes, packages and freight to and from 50 countries and territories in the region by air and land. With more than 1,300 locations, it offers a variety of priority and time-definite delivery options, plus international trade and supply chain services. FedEx Express is the largest division of FedEx Corp. The express division reaches more than 220 countries and territories. Other FedEx Corp. business segments: FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight and FedEx Services, which includes FedEx Office stores.
World headquarters: Memphis, Tennessee. www.fedex.com
Regional headquarters for Latin America and the Caribbean: 701 Waterford Way, Miami
Regional CEO: Juan N. Cento, president, Latin America and Caribbean division
Founded: Federal Express was founded in 1971. FedEx Express began serving Latin America and the Caribbean in the 1980s. The company set up its Miami regional headquarters in 1996.
Employees: More than 300 in Miami; over 19,000 in Latin America and the Caribbean. FedEx Corp. has more than 300,000 worldwide.
Ownership: Publicly traded
Revenues: FedEx Corp. had global revenues of $45.6billion in fiscal year 2014, and FedEx Express generated $27billion of the total. The company does not provide a breakdown of its regional sales.
Source: FedEx Express