By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Seema and Fahim Mojawalla of the Island Ship Center are back from what they called a once in a lifetime visit to FedEx headquarters in Memphis.
The trip this month was part business, part entertainment, and all dream come true for Fahim.
“It was his childhood dream,” Seema said of her husband. “Since he was 12, he has always wanted to go on a FedEx plane. He has made the kids watch ‘Cast Away.’ ... In the end, he was trying to explain to the kids, ‘Look, the last package was delivered!’ And the kids are like, ‘OK.’”
“This is what FedEx does!” Seema said Fahim tells them.
Fahim said there are 5,200 FedEx operation centers in the country, and seven of those get an invitation every year to visit the company’s headquarters to see the operations up close and personal.
During their stay:
•They watched the FedEx World Golf Championship tournament from the FedEx cabana at the 18th green, and saw the world’s best golfers play.
•They had a private tour of the St. Jude Children’s Hospital as well as the FedEx Family House, which supports parents of children undergoing treatment with complimentary housing.
•FedEx put the Mojawallas up at the famous Peabody Hotel, which Fahim Mojawalla called one of the top 100 historic hotels in the United States. In addition to being a top accommodation, the hotel is famous for a march of ducks, when ducks take a morning elevator ride down to the hotel’s fountain, where they spend the day until returning to their rooftop home.
•They toured the airport and control center where millions of packages are moved across the globe.
The trip wasn’t all fun and games. Fahim Mojawalla said FedEx executives took the time to solicit opinions from store owners about how to improve the marketing and how to make them better in terms of quality and excellence.
“It was a gratitude trip, for us, to thank us for our business, but also to get our opinions about improvements to the FedEx authorized ship center program,” Fahim said.
“They invited top stores across the country to get their feedback and input about how to make the program better, so that the stores perform better. But, I mean, I was completely blown away. ... I felt very humble. I didn’t feel like I belonged there because all these other stores were very, very high end performing stores. And yet, realizing that positivity and motivation sell in today’s economy and today’s environment, meeting the team at FedEx that head up the stores and meeting the head of retail marketing for the FedEx center and having dinner with him, it was an amazing experience.”
Fahim said he told the executives the philosophy that has made the Grand Island location successful.
“That’s basically what my message was,” Fahim said he told the execs. “That quality and excellence sell all day, every day. You have to move the bar from mediocrity to excellence in order to be relevant in today’s economy. In order to fight the fight against Amazon. And one of the biggest messages was a people talk about retail, and how retail is dying. And they make excuses. And I feel that that’s nothing but excuses. Because if you look at the numbers, Target is blowing it out of the park with their retail numbers. Their numbers are up higher than they’ve ever been. Why? Because if you go into a Target, it creates an experience for shoppers, you will linger there and you will get that amazing experience – for babies and kids and young adults and etc., etc. And so we follow that model in our store, and Seema does that with her boutique.”
Mojawalla is pictured next to a new FedEx bot that was on display at the FedEx World Golf Championships. (Photo by Larry Austin)