When you think of German-headquartered brands in America, it’s probably sports cars that first come to mind, but DHL is another example of this European influence in the states. What began as a small courier company has moved into a position of global standing.
Long Established Energy
DHL (which stands for Dalsey, Hillbolm, and Lynn) prides themselves on having the energy of a startup, despite having existed for 50 years. As a part of the Deutsche Post, DHL serves the largest logistics company in the world.
The company itself features several individual divisions: Express, eCommerce, Global Forwarding, and Supply Chain. In terms of numbers, this looks like 380,000 employees globally, servicing 220 countries and territories, and more than 1.5 billion parcels delivered each year.
First in Flight
Back in the 1960s, just as the United States was celebrating their victory in the space race, DHL was founded and began servicing an international market with express deliveries. The founders realized that shipping documents by air not only ensured they would arrive faster, but also cut down on the time they spent in customs when traveling internationally.
In the few decades that followed, DHL quickly began opening offices all over the globe, and thus expanding the countries to which they could ship. A seemingly endless supply of new locations were opened continuously into the 21st century, when business had expanded so much that central hubs were also increased.
The same smarts and innovation that allowed the founders to realize they could circumnavigate the time and hassle of packages being tied up in customs define DHL as a company today, and make it an important piece in the system of global logistics that connects so many different corners of the planet.
Chasing After the Competition
DHL has more than its fair share of strong competitors. The biggest fish in the transportation and shipping pond are UPS and Fedex, both of which have valuations tens of billions of dollars higher than that of DHL. A closer competitor is likely J.B. Hunt Transport, which is valued close to $10 billion.
Still, DHL is plays a major role in global shipping, even if it doesn’t profit quite as much as some of the larger (and slightly older) companies.
As a recognizable global brand, DHL doesn’t have a hard time maintaining top of mind awareness, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t still make an effort. In line with their message of increasing connectivity, DHL established a partnership with Mo Salah called The Human Network.
In this initiative, 50 fans are given the opportunity to interact with Salah as a part of the DHL 50th anniversary. The underlying message is that human connectivity is a crucial facet of the human experience.
Troubled Founding Family
The “H” in DHL has caused the bulk of the company’s bad press. One of the founders was discovered to have had illicit affairs with underage children more than 20 years ago. More recently, his son was discovered to have been trafficking drugs.
All the same, these indiscretions don’t appear to have affected the standing of DHL in the minds of consumers. Although the brand doesn’t touch UPS or Fedex, it is estimated to have a brand value of more than $10 billion, and is considered the fourth most valuable logistics company in the world.
Now that the company has half a century under its belt, it is time to show whether it can contend with the major players in its industry, or if DHL will fade into past prominence.