Earlier this week, Kenco co-founder James D. “Jim” Kennedy Jr. passed away. He devoted 70 years to the supply chain industry and leaves behind a lasting legacy. On August 1, 1950, Kennedy Jr. founded what was originally called Cherokee Warehouse with his brother-in-law, Sam Smartt, and father, James Drake Kennedy, Sr., who provided the capital to start the business. Launching with only two employees and a single 100,000 square-foot facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Kennedy Jr. and Smartt’s endeavor transformed into a major full-service logistics business, Kenco Group, Inc., which today employs more than 4,000 people across the country.
Kennedy Jr. was truly a pioneer, and under his guidance Kenco notably enacted the first third-party logistics contract ever in the U.S, according to Armstrong & Associates. At a time when most of his competitors in the “public warehouse” business conﬁned themselves to small local operations, Kennedy Jr. and the team of hard-working, loyal associates at Kenco began something very diﬀerent. They developed relationships with Fortune 500 companies across the country, operating large distribution centers and provided modern-day logistics services. All of which successfully laid the foundation for what today is a $700M multi-national organization.
Beyond his contribution to the supply chain industry, Kennedy Jr.’s involvement in local Chattanooga civic organizations was never-ending. In 1995, he was recognized as “The Chattanooga Area Manager of the Year”. Recently through his beloved Kennedy Foundation, he made the largest gift to the campaign for what is now The Children’s Kennedy Outpatient Center at Erlanger. In his seventies, Kennedy Jr. went back to college and took two years of study in English literature and Fine Arts at UTC. This experience led him to donate funds through the Foundation to the annual Kennedy Shakespeare Lecture and he has established a poetry scholarship and professorship at UTC in honor of his late wife, Dorothy Hellerstedt Kennedy.
On behalf of the Kenco employees across the country, we celebrate Jim Kennedy Jr.’s contributions to the company and industry and share our thoughts and prayers with the entire Kenco family.