Change comes from unexpected sources. Listen to hear how Malcolm McLean changed the world transportation landscape.
Welcome back to another episode of Anecdotally Speaking! Our apologies that this episode is being released later in the week than usual.
In this episode, Mark shares a story that he says is close to his heart, given he spent 20 years in the airforce as a logistics officer. He and Shawn find it makes several business points (sign up for our emails via our podcast webpage to receive them in a list each week), and we’d love for you to add any extras you think of in the comments below.
For your story bank
Tags: change, ideas, impact, persistence, problem solving
This story starts at 01:46
Malcolm McLean couldn’t afford to go to college. So when he finished high school in the mid-1930s, he and his siblings purchased a used truck and started the McLean Shipping Company in North Carolina.
The McLean Shipping Company was successful, and the business grew. But there was one thing that frustrated Malcolm—the time and cost of transferring shipments from trucks to ships.
In the 1940s, goods were carried in boxes, crates and sacks and lifted onto ships in large nets via cranes. On average, it took three weeks for a docked ship to be unloaded and reloaded.
Malcolm thought there had to be a better way. He wondered how he could get an entire truck onto the ship.
He then thought of containerising a truck’s contents, so you could lift an entire container off a vehicle and straight onto a ship.
In 1952, he got a loan of $22 million to implement his idea.
He purchased two WWII tankers, and he and his team converted them to carry containers they constructed. They decided the containers should be 20 feet by 8 feet by 8 feet.
In 1956, the first container ship sailed from Newark to Houston with 58 containers on board. From that moment, ship design completely changed to cater to containers.
Today, there are an estimated 20 million containers worldwide, with some ships carrying up to 20,000 containers. On average, ships are docked, unloaded and reloaded within 24 hours.
Malcolm helped shipping become efficient and reliable and changed the world transportation landscape.
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