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DHL: Corporate - DHL's History



1969 to present

Just months after man's first landing on the Moon, DHL began operating the first international door-to-door express delivery service in the world.  When Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom and Robert Lynn established DHL in 1969, they simultaneously invented the international air express industry.

In the beginning, the three partners delivered shipping documents by air, so that they arrived at customs offices before the freight, and enabled goods to pass through customs with less delay.


On 25 September, Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom and Robert Lynn (the D, Hand L in our company name) incorporate DHL. The company begins by operating a door-to-door express delivery service, transporting documents only between San Francisco, California and Honolulu, Hawaii.

After one year, DHL is handling shipments for 40 clients and expanding its operations to include Guam, Los Angeles and Portland, Ohio.

With a rapidly growing network of enthusiastic customers in the USA, DHL begins to meet demands for an international service by opening territories in the Far East and Pacific Rim.

The Philippines becomes operational and the US network continues to develop.

DHL International is founded with the opening of an office in Hong Kong, and this is followed later that year by offices being established in Japan and Singapore.

The Sydney office opens and becomes the headquarters for Australia.

Now with over 3,000 clients and 314 staff, DHL uses its substantial experience and expertise in the international air express industry to commence services to New Zealand, Fiji, Indonesia, Taiwan, Malaysia and Thailand.

This year DHL handles over 500,000 shipments.

Operations in the UK commence, spurred by the increasing importance of London as a key financial centre.

DHL continues to move into Continental Europe, opening offices in Amsterdam and Paris and begins a service to South Korea. DHL is the first express delivery company to open up in the Middle East with offices in Tehran, Iran.

DHL opens in Mexico and Scotland. DHL begins a service to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.

DHL opens service centres in Canada, Korea, Norway and Germany. The company also develops its network in the Middle East with offices opening in the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

DHL begins to move away from pure document delivery by introducing the Small Parcel Express service, which later became Worldwide Parcel Express (WPX).

DHL opens in the Caribbean and becomes the first international air express company to offer a service in Latin America, starting with Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela.

In Europe, DHL Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Ireland, Sweden and Belgium become operational.

Nigeria becomes the first territory in Africa to open up to DHL.

DHL reaches its 10th birthday. It now operates over 360 service centres and has more than 85,000 customers who rely on DHL for express service.

DHL continues to grow in Africa with the opening of offices in South Africa and Kenya.

In Latin America, the office in Argentina opens.

Lebanon and Oman are established in the Middle East.

Denmark, Andorra, Spain and the Canary Islands are opened in Europe.

DHL expands into many new territories. Service Centres are set up in the Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Chile, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay, Bangladesh, China, India, Sri Lanka, Austria, Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe.

The organisation is now so large that it is re-structured into regions, linked by a telecommunications network.

DHL opens in Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cameroon, Cyprus, Gabon, Haiti, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Nepal, New Caledonia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal and Turkey.

From Anguilla to Zaire, 1982 marks a year of acceleration in the establishment of DHL service centres throughout the world.

Services start to Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Bolivia, Bonaire, Cape Verde, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Iceland, Martinique, Mauritania, Montserrat, Nevis, Nicaragua, St. Barthelemey, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, St. Vincent, Senegal, Tonga, Turks and Caicos Islands and Zaire.

DHL is the first air express company to formulate plans to use state-of-the art packet-switching to track packages and aid communications between DHL staff.

A momentous year as DHL forges ahead of the competition and opens up Eastern Europe to the express delivery industry for the first time.

DHL also starts service to Belize, Bosnia, Botswana, Brunei, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Liberia, Maldives, Malta, Seychelles, Slovenia, Surinam and Togo and the Channel Islands.

In the US, the overnight programme is developed, using the USA airline system from two hubs at Cincinnati and Salt Lake City.


DHL continues its massive global growth programme. As well as opening in territories as far apart as Benin and Vanuatu, the first automated customer service system is deployed in Washington DC.

DHL starts services to Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Benin, Congo, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea Republic, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Qatar, Russia, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vanuatu.

The Unix operating system was adopted for DHL hardware and software and the first automated customer service system was deployed in Washington DC, USA.

This year marks a huge leap forward in DHL's ability to service customer needs in Europe, with the opening of the new international hub in Brussels, Belgium - the largest sorting facility outside the US.

DHL starts service in Bulgaria, Burkina Fasso, Djibouti, Mozambique, Nauru, Somalia and Swaziland.

Service to the People's Republic of China is formalised with an exclusive joint venture between DHL and Sinotrans.

DHL starts services to the Cook Islands, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Reunion Island, Gambia, Lesotho, Tahiti, Madagascar, Mali, Uganda and Zambia.

WorldMail is introduced - a service for the cross-border transport and distribution of mailings.

DHL introduces new standards of customer service. Delivery targets before 10:30 and-12 noon and end-of-day are established. All incoming calls have to be answered within three rings and all calls that require a response are returned within 60 minutes.

DHL begins delivery service to Chad, Comoros, Kiribati, Liechtenstein, Morocco, Rwanda and Sierra Leone.

The Global airwaybill is introduced to facilitate further the sending of shipments.

Between 1985 and 1988 DHL doubles its customer base to more than half a million and quadruples the number of shipments it handles. It's also the first express delivery company to anticipate the demand for total logistics solutions.

Namibia, St. Lucia and Vietnam are added to the list of countries served by DHL.

In the US, the Cincinnati hub is expanded to cope with continued growth.

DHL Budapest is established as a joint venture with Hungary's state-owned transport company Hungarocamion. Following this, DHL's Eastern Europe head office is relocated from Frankfurt to Budapest.

DHL Middle East introduces the Express Club for its customers, providing members with an enhanced service.

Celebrations take place around the world to mark the 20th anniversary of the beginning of DHL.

The Brussels hub is expanded to keep pace with explosive growth.

Services to Tanzania and Laos are set up.

A brand new headquarters building for DHL Japan is established in Tokyo.

Easyship, an integrated shipping processing system is introduced to allow customers to have complete control in preparing and tracking shipments, all from their PC.

DHL signs an historic Global Transport Alliance with Lufthansa Cargo, Japan Airlines and Nissho Iwai.

Start of services to Bhutan, Cambodia, Cuba, Equatorial New Guinea, Libya, Macedonia and Sao Tome.

With the old Eastern European countries opening up trade with the West, DHL sets up in the Czech Republic.

DHL initiates Easylynk services together with Western Union. This pioneering service combines an electronic transmission via satellite to a DHL office for printing and onward despatch and delivery (the service survived as Satellite Express until the advent of electronic mail).

DHL sets up its first Express Logistics Centres around the world to service its customers' future requirements. The vision the company communicates to its customers is the ability to provide next morning delivery of their inventories anywhere in the world.

DHL becomes the first express delivery service to deal with a Baltic state - Latvia (formerly part of the Soviet Republic).

Offices open in Tirana, Albania and services start to Estonia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Mongolia, Niue, Romania, Tuvalu and Ukraine.

DHL prompts a major breakthrough in customs clearance technology by establishing a direct computer link with UK Customs. The software, developed by DHL, cuts clearance times for inbound dutiable shipments by up to 50% whilst guaranteeing accuracy of documentation and administration.

Lufthansa Cargo, Japan Airlines and Nissho Iwai increase their interest in DHL to 57.5%.

DHL begins delivering to the Faroe Islands and Greenland.

DHL launches its service to Belarus and Slovakia.

The company announces a massive four-year capital spending programme with investments in worldwide handling systems, automation, facilities, communications and computer technology.

An investment of US$ 60 million is made in the Bahrain regional distribution centre.

DHL begins a service to Algeria.

Next-day delivery between the Middle East and Brussels is guaranteed with the first scheduled Boeing 757 freighter service.

DHL sets up in Mauritius and Moldova.

A gateway facility opens in Moscow.

A US$10 million hub is opened in Bombay.

DHL opens the Asia Pacific hub in Manila, Philippines.

A high-tech Express Logistics Centre is opened in Singapore.

Internet tracking of shipments is introduced.

DHL Dubai becomes the first company in the Middle East to earn an ISO 14001 certificate for environmental practices and strategy.

Deutsche Post AG becomes a shareholder of DHL International, as part of a vision to align its European ground-based services with DHL.

DHL Connect, an Internet-based desktop shipping solution for customers, is launched.

DHL opens the company's largest US service centre in Sunnyvale, California, catering for booming high technology shipments from Silicon Valley.

DHL announces investment in a new export facility at Melbourne Airport, Australia, offering bonded warehousing (with in-house customs clearance and direct access to tarmac) and strategic inventory management for customers.

DHL launches DHL WAP Track, the industry's first tracking service designed specially for use with WAP-enabled mobile phones and devices.

DHL announces the acquisition of 44 Boeing 757s for its Europe and Africa network.

DHL Worldwide Express shows its commitment to facilitate the growth of e-commerce by providing logistics services to businesses as it unveils the opening of an on-line Express Logistics Centre (ELC) in Tsuen Wan.

DHL introduces next-generation mobile wireless data scanner, the CatsEye.

DHL launches the world's first global SMS tracking service to allow customers to track DHL shipments via text messages wherever they can use a mobile phone.

DHL launches, which acts as a source of business intelligence for companies and helps guide them in their transition from traditional non-internet business into e-business.

DHL Aviation in Europe & Africa is awarded a region-based ISO 14001 certification.

The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) elects the founders of DHL to their International Air Cargo Hall of Fame.

DHL announces the formation of a new UK airline, based at East Midlands Airport, England.

DHL celebrates the arrival of the first Boeing 757 Special Freighters at its Brussels hub, Belgium from the new fleet of 44 Boeing 757 announced in October 1999.

DHL announces expansion of its existing next-day express deliver service to provide Timed Delivery across all major business centres in the European Union.

DHL and NWA Cargo combine forces to provide customers with fast, reliable and secure services linking the US and Asia in a multi-million dollar deal, reinforcing DHL's leading market position in Asia Pacific.

Deutsche Post (DPWN) becomes a majority shareholder in DHL by increasing its stake to 51%.



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