The number 1 express carrier
A DHL case study

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Page 1: Introduction

Dhl 2 Diagram 1The international express market is expanding rapidly. According to a recent report by the Boeing company, it occupied a global market share of 5% of the total international air cargo market in 1994. This rapid growth rate is set to continue and to attain 31% of the total international air cargo market by the year 2014.

The largest share of this growing market is handled by international express carrier, DHL. This case study therefore sets out to chart how DHL Worldwide Express has created one of the greatest success stories in terms of world-wide renown, company growth and enterprise in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Its foundation, 27 years ago (in 1969), started an entire industry - air express distribution – of which it has remained the undisputed world leader. Today, following tremendous growth and expansion, DHL continues to drive the industry it created through a relentless pursuit of excellence in all aspects of product and service, in every operation throughout the world. Understanding the needs and concerns of customers, both globally and locally, is central to DHL’s business philosophy and lies at the heart of the leadership position maintained throughout the 223 countries it serves.

Founded in 1969 by Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom and Robert Lynn, DHL is the world’s largest international express carrier. The founders, whose initials form the company name, launched the air express industry “overnight” as they transported shipping documents from San Fransisco to Hawaii, in advance of the actual shipments, saving significant time, as well as money, on turnaround in customs, previously impossible through traditional methods of transportation.

But what have been the factors which have shaped the development of this relatively new industry in the UK and internationally? What are the developing trends and what does the future hold? We look back over the past three decades to find out.....

In the late 1960s, companies had three alternatives if they needed to send
documents and parcels overseas:

  • They could use the Post Office or local equivalent, geared towards private users;
  • They could use expensive on-board couriers who were limited by the weight they could carry; or
  • They could use standard air freight which usually involved built-in delays at customs.

DHL | The number 1 express carrier