Celebrating 50 years of DHL

Half a century of being in business is a monumental milestone and we celebrate our 50th anniversary around the globe. 

DHL was founded on September 25, 1969, by three entrepreneurs: Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom and Robert Lynn, launching the international air express industry.


It was a simple yet revolutionary business idea of transporting shipping documents from San Francisco to Honolulu by plane in so the customs clearance of the corresponding ship cargo could begin even before the ships arrived. This is how DHL invented the international express service and has grown into the world’s leading mail and logistics company – Deutsche Post DHL Group, a global-spanning family of DHL divisions.

Innovation is an essential part of our DNA. The innovative business idea in 1969 was the starting point for a large number of innovations that have made DHL one of the world’s most important logistics partners over the past 50 years.

DHL’s tradition of innovation

DHL began as a disruptor to the traditional delivery industry, circumventing bureaucracy with innovative new service to deliver documents by air overnight. In 1979, DHL developed its very own computer, the DHL 1000 word processor as a way to speed up customs documentation. The DHL 1000 was one of the first word processing systems in the world, a true innovation.

DHL was one of the first express delivery companies to anticipate the need for total logistics solutions. By the late 1980s, DHL was going far beyond delivery, expanding its role in customer supply chains and operating centrally located warehouses that enabled partners to reduce inventory, response times and costs.

In the early 2010s, DHL started using the purpose-built StreetScooter, an environmentally friendly delivery vehicle powered by an electric drive and developed by Deutsche Post DHL Group. The Group couldn’t find a suitable, environmentally friendly van on the market, and simply created its own. The StreetScooter has been a huge success; with a fleet of now over 9,000 vehicles strong and further growing.

DHL’s tradition of being global

Today, it’s considered normal that people, information, and goods and services can travel easily across borders. However, DHL began bringing countries together through trade at all times when there were real barriers and also cultural differences much greater than today, and when there was no email or internet. To give customers in remote and less industrialized areas, the same advantages as in other parts of the world, DHL in 1986 began providing computers to its clients for automating shipment processing. This was the global, customer-centric vision of DHL long before “globalization” became a household term.


DHL’s tradition of sustainability

Sustainability at DHL focuses on environmental impact and social responsibility, as well as on relationships with our customers, employees and investors.

Environmental protection is integrated into Deutsche Post DHL Group’s corporate strategy, including a plan to reduce all logistics-related carbon emissions to zero by 2050, while the Group is already making concrete progress towards the interim targets for 2025.

Our employees apply their can-do spirit and problem-solving ability to service their communities, today and in the past.

In its first decade, a DHL country team might be a family, a group of tightly knit people, bonded by trust and a commitment to getting the job done! We call this Respect and Results, the guiding principle for all of our employees across the globe. Respect and Results are what brings everyone around the same table and is the backbone of our Leadership Attributes, our Certified Program, our First Choice Methodology and our Three Bottom Lines – to become Provider of Choice, Employer of Choice and Investment of Choice.

DHL’s future and further development

By capitalizing on a globe-spanning group of logistics specialists and cross-divisional synergies DHL is going to provide even more effective service innovations which tackle major trends shaping the future of the logistics industry: digitalization, automatization, responsible business as well as e-commerce. DHL just started to use collaborative robots, artificial intelligence, augmented reality applications and self-driving vehicles, which help increase output while easing employee workload.

DHL successfully run several tests of drone deliveries to remote areas and for specific goods as well for inventory management in its warehouse operations.

DHL has introduced SmarTrucking, which combines big data with the Internet of Things to reduce transit times by up to 50% compared to the traditional trucking industry. And with TRAILAR, trucks and trailers get equipped with electricity-generating solar mats to reduce costs and lower carbon emissions at the same time.

Today, together with its “sister” brand Deutsche Post, Europe’s leading postal service provider, and the extended DHL family, Deutsche Post DHL Group employs approximately 550,000 people in over 220 countries and territories worldwide – thereof some 380,000 employees working for DHL.

With our “can-do” spirit, combined with customer focus, our guiding principle of Respect and Results, our responsibility for environmental protection and impressive tradition of global, innovative and sustainable business we connect people and make the world a better place which makes us THE logistics company for the world.