History of DHL

by Matthew Fortuna - Updated September 26, 2017
History of DHL

Founding

DHL Worldwide Express is an international express mail service. As a main competitor with FedEx and UPS, DHL vies for much of the shipping needs of businesses and individuals around the world. What started with humble beginnings soon became a several billion dollar international enterprise.

The company was founded in 1969 to provide express delivery services between the contiguous United States and Hawaii. The three young founders were Larry Hillbloom, a University of California at Berkeley graduate, Adrian Dalsey and Robert Lynn, all based out of San Franciso, California. Initially their shipping company offered the delivery of shipping documents by express air delivery. These shipments, made in advance of bulk shipping needs, allowed ships to be unloaded more quickly once they arrived in the following days.

Early Success

From its early services shipping logistically from San Francisco to Honolulu, the company gradually expanded to encompass the Americas, and then much of Asia and the Pacific Rim in 1971, followed by the rest of the Western Hemisphere, Europe and the rest of the world. DHL services were first introduced in the vital markets of Hong Kong and Japan in 1974. That same year they opened their first UK office in London, expanding their company from three employees in 1969 to 314 five years later with over 3,000 customers.

Ever adapting to meet the needs of the world marketplace and keep up with growing competition, DHL continually altered its methods, soon becoming a full delivery program. Co-owner Adrian Dalsey owned a share of the company until 1980, when he traveled Hawaii, Micronesia, Guam and other parts of Asia selling his shares and interests in DHL.

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1980s to Present

In 1983, DHL became the first air forwarder to serve the Eastern European countries and opened an international hub in Cincinnati, Ohio, the same year. By 1985, they opened a deluxe center in Brussels that handled over 150,000 orders every night. They expanded further with major post openings in Bahrain in 1993 and Kuala Lumpur in 1998. In 1999 Deutsch Post, the world's largest logistical company, began to acquire shares and stocks in the company and in 2001 bought enough to acquire majority ownership. By the end of 2002, they would achieve full ownership of the company. As of 2009, DHL employed 300,000 people around the world in over 220 territories and countries. Since the company's founding, their services have expanded to encompass air, overland, freight and sea shipping, and they remain the top logistical delivery company internationally.

About the Author

Matthew Fortuna is a full-time freelance writer with a journalism degree from Wayne State University, living in the Detroit metropolitan area. He has written about a wide range of topics across varying publications, including Demand Studios, wiseGEEK.com and Suite101.com, among others. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Wayne State University.

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