DHL Worldwide Express commands less than five percent of the U.S. overnight delivery market, but the company's international operation - DHL International - leads its competitors in nearly every other major market across the globe. Founded in 1969 by Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom and Robert Lynn (the D, H, and L), DHL provides air express service to more destinations than any other company. It links more than 635,000 cities in more than 225 countries.
'D' is for door-to-door
In 1969, Dalsey, Hillblom, and Lynn developed a way to decrease turnaround time in the shipping business by flying bills of landing to port ahead of time. DHL started out moving documents between San Francisco and Honolulu; the process soon evolved into an international door-to-door express mail service throughout the Pacific. Within a few years, DHL began expanding its service to the Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. The company started to serve Europe in 1974, the Middle East in 1976, Latin America in 1977, and Sub-Sahara Africa in 1978. Hillblom eventually bought out his partners and retired to Saipan in 1981.
An international pioneer
The company did not begin developing a network within the United States until 1983, when it established a hub in Cincinnati International Airport. That year the company also became the first to offer international service to Europe's Eastern Bloc. In the years to follow, DHL would also be the first to include Vietnam and the Peoples Republic of China in its delivery network; and the first to reestablish service to Kuwait following the Gulf War. More recently, DHL was the only company to continue air express service in Indonesia - despite the civil unrest in that country during May 1988.
In 1990, the company sold a minority interest in DHL International to a group of investors that included Lufthansa Airlines, Japan Air Lines, and Nissho Iwai, a Japanese aerospace company. In 1992, the three companies exercised their right to increase their stake to a controlling interest (57.5%). All tolled, they paid more than $236 million in cash for the share, $20 million of which was for the DHL trademark. That agreement came back to haunt DHL in 1998, when the IRS insisted that the DHL trademark was underpriced. America's favorite springtime beneficiary decided that the trademark was worth $500 million, and thus demanded $588 million in additional taxes and penalties. In December of that year, a tax court ruled that the trademark was worth $100 million, and DHL was forced to cough up more than $150 million.
'H' is for Larry "Hustler" Hillblom
Meanwhile, the company has yet to settle the questions concerning the estate of co-founder Larry Hillblom, who was known to have an Asian fetish and a specific taste for teenage girls. In fact, it has been revealed that Hillblom had women on his payroll who were in charge of securing virgins for him in Philippine go-go clubs and bars. In 1993, Hillblom's seaplane crashed near his home in Saipan and his body was never recovered. Four of his alleged offspring did manage to surface, however; but when investigators went to his home looking for items that might be used for DNA tests, the house was suspiciously bare. After DNA tests proved that all four children had the same father at least, each of them was awarded $90 million from Hillblom's estate.
Later, in June 1995, investigators found the deceased multimillionaire's belongings in trash bags buried in his backyard. It turns out that Joe Waechter, a DHL executive, had instructed Hillblom's live-in girlfriend to remove all of his belongings from their home once he was declared legally dead. If DNA tests on the recently discovered items prove that the four children are definitely Hillblom's, they stand to inherit the $500 - $700 million left in Hillblom's estate.
'L' is for local
In December 1998, DHL was named the "World's Most Global Company" by Global Finance Magazine, based on criteria including global reach, sales, assets, and profits. Featured alongside companies like Reuters, Citibank, and Shell, DHL was specifically cited for its practice of establishing "its own, rather than agent, operations overseas" and for employing "as many local staff as possible." To bolster its international influence, DHL has expanded its interests in Asia, Australia, and South America since summer 1999.
DHL has pursued additional methods of expansion. In October 1999, the company launched its industry's first mobile tracking service. Then, in mid-2000, DHL introduced DHL Masterclass, an e-commerce web site.
DHL offers entry-level career opportunities at its regional offices located across the U.S. and throughout the world. The company's web site, www.dhl.com, provides a complete list of offices. While some offices will consider only those resumes submitted for a particular opening, most DHL locations keep all resumes on file. Some DHL offices also accept resumes via e-mail, but none of them will look at resumes sent through Federal Express.
A standard easily recognized
DHL employees enjoy a "decentralized corporate structure" that encourages "aggressive self-starters." "Employees and middle managers are hard workers with a 'can do' attitude, and overall, they are a fun bunch to work with." Plus, says one insider, "the whole company has a very international flavor - remember, we're the leaders in international shipping." Unlike FedEx and UPS, "DHL has concentrated from the outset on the 'worldwide' aspect of its service," reveals another. "From the international hub in Brussels to the smallest village in India, the DHL standard is easily recognized." However, lest prospective applicants start conjuring up images of the jet-set life, one source remarks, "DHL in the U.S.A. is not the same as DHL International. The American management is somewhat isolationist when it comes to DHL International."
Comments on salary range from "decent, but by no means spectacular," to "slightly below average." One source counsels potential hires to "negotiate the highest possible salary from the start." Another contact notes that "those who can define their career goals clearly" will "advance steadily," thanks to the "company-wide emphasis on internal promotion."
Our contacts agree that "in terms of ethnic minorities, the entire industry seems to be proactive in its hiring and promotion policies." Meanwhile, "gender tends to be something of an issue, as "most transportation companies are very male-oriented."
When travel comes cheap
As far as dress codes, "couriers wear a uniform, and those in the offices dress business casual," informants declare. Benefits are "equal to or slightly higher than the industry average," remarks one contented source. While health insurance "is not as good as it once was," other perks and benefits are "fantastic." Among these are a tuition reimbursement program which pays employees "up to an annual limit of $3,000 for full-timers and $1,500 for part-timers." And the best perk of all: "We have agreements with many major airlines for travel at up to 90% off regular fares."
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