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The Man Who Built Amazon’s Delivery Machine

Dave Clark has twin challenges: ensuring packages arrive on time and keeping workers safe.

Employees fill orders at the Amazon.com fulfillment center in Robbinsville, New Jersey.
Employees fill orders at the Amazon.com fulfillment center in Robbinsville, New Jersey.Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

Shortly after being named Amazon.com Inc.’s global logistics chief in 2013, Dave Clark held a conference call with his new reports. During the meet-and-greet, according to a person on the call, Clark described his early-career habit of lurking in the shadows of Amazon warehouses and scoping out slackers he could fire, which earned him the nickname The Sniper. Clark speaks in a monotone and is hard to read, but the message was clear enough: The new boss wanted his underlings to know that he will let little stand in the way of ensuring that customers get their orders on time.

The Sniper demonstrated his determination yet again on Sunday, when—at the height of the holiday shopping rush—he essentially fired FedEx Corp. Clark’s team had noticed that FedEx’s delivery performance was slipping and banned third-party merchants from using the logistics giant’s ground network for the rest of the season.