South Florida is a key operations center for DHL Express, the international air transport and logistics business serving more than 220 countries and territories.
DHL Express Americas, the division based in Plantation, serves about 300,000 customers in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, linking them to DHL’s global network.
It has 15,000 employees, operates 800 offices, service centers and terminals, and has 5,000 land vehicles and 80 dedicated cargo aircraft making about 500 flights daily, moving everything from personal items to parts for oil-drilling rigs to manatees and polo ponies.
The company’s main hub for shipments to and from Latin America is at Miami International Airport.
“We have a wide range of customers, from the person next door to the largest companies in the world,” said Stephen Fenwick, the Plantation-based CEO of the Americas region.
DHL chose Plantation for its regional center over Miami. “It was less filled-up and less expensive than Miami,” said Fenwick, an Australian who assumed the CEO position in early 2011. “That suits our style and allows us to hire the right people.
“Our business is predominantly international, and TDI — time-definite international service — is a key product,” said Fenwick, who started working with DHL in the Middle East and held posts in the U.S., Europe and Asia before taking over the Americas job.
While DHL offers a range of delivery options, time-definite service — which ensures fast, door-to-door delivery by a specific time — is in high demand.
“Worldwide Medical Express is definitely a growing area, and there are many opportunities ahead with e-commerce and the growth of SMEs [small and mid-sized enterprises],” Fenwick said.
In addition to shipping temperature-delicate vaccines and medications internationally, DHL’s medical express system helps advance drug-testing by collecting blood samples at doctors’ offices and shipping them to testing points under temperature-controlled conditions.
“It’s critical to keep these samples — as well as other samples for life sciences — at the right temperature,” said Fenwick, who previously served as a member of the DHL Express management board for Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, overseeing operations in 131 countries and territories.
“Samples can’t be kept on ramps … we must have 99.9 percent on-time delivery,” he added. “And DHL’s international network is unrivaled.”
In Mexico, for example, after introducing its overnight delivery service, the delivery rate of blood samples from newborn infants to laboratories improved significantly, allowing labs to detect more than 2,000 cases of hyperthyroid conditions because the samples were fresh.
DHL also sees strong growth opportunities in Mexico as companies from Asia set up production centers for the North American Free Trade Agreement area. “There is a lot of investment in the auto industry in Mexico, and consumer electronics and aircraft manufacturing are also important,” Fenwick said.
DHL also has been successful in increasing service to SMEs throughout the Americas, and today these smaller companies account for about 90 percent of customers. DHL offers a variety of services to SMEs that are interested in exporting, such as online tools that provide information on trade and customs regulations, estimated export costs, documentation requirements, etc. However, large companies still represent the lion’s share of DHL volume.
The Plantation headquarters of DHL Express Americas, with 320 employees, manages the entire region and handles product support, IT services, sales, finance, marketing/communications and additional DHL operations.
Express uses its own fleet of cargo jets and works with other airlines such as Atlas Air, ATSG and others.
DHL Express Americas is one part of the global express division, the largest unit of Deutsche Post DHL, a publicly traded company based in Bonn, Germany that has 315,000 employees worldwide and offers services in logistics, land and sea freight, e-commerce, global mail, and other areas.
Founded in 1969 in the U.S., DHL Express opened its first offices in Canada and Mexico in the mid-1970s and now covers 55 countries and territories in the region. Its largest markets are the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Brazil and Colombia.
Since taking over, Fenwick has expanded service in all parts of the Americas, overseeing multimillion-dollar investments.
For example, DHL invested over $20 million for its new facilities at Miami International Airport, $47 million to expand the regional hub in Cincinnati (which channels all traffic to the Americas from Asia and Europe) and $14.2 million for DHL’s domestic air hub in Querétaro, Mexico.
This robust expansion came after DHL Express made a major cutback in its U.S. domestic operations in 2008, when it decided it would no longer compete directly with UPS and FedEx in the U.S. market. The company discontinued its domestic express service (point-to-point within the U.S.) and focused on international shipments. At the time, DHL laid off over 9,500 employees.
While UPS and FedEx remain the market leaders in U.S. domestic express, DHL Express has the dominant share in Spanish-speaking South America (45-60 percent) and shares market leadership in Brazil with FedEx for express services, DHL said. Also, DHL, FedEx and UPS are “similar in size” in Mexico, the company added.
In addition to its commercial role, DHL Express also often has a critical impact on individuals, Fenwick noted.
A man visiting the British Virgin Islands had a heart attack and needed to be flown to Puerto Rico immediately for treatment. But his passport (he was not an American) had expired.
“We took action, contacted his home government and expedited the delivery of an emergency passport,” Fenwick said. He was able to enter Puerto Rico and survived.
“We make a difference for people,” he said. “Unless you have a global network, it doesn’t work.”
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DHL Express Americas
Business: Moves documents, parcels and freight to and from 300,000 customers in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, linking the region to the rest of DHL’s global logistics network. Headquartered in Plantation, the Americas division of DHL Express has more than 800 offices, service centers, terminals and hubs; operates about 80 dedicated aircraft and 5,000 land vehicles; and averages 500 flights in the region daily. DHL Express is the largest division of Deutsche Post DHL, which has 315,000 employees worldwide and other units that handle sea and land freight, supply chain, e-commerce and global mail.
World headquarters: Bonn, Germany.
Regional headquarters for the Americas: 1210 South Pine Island Road, Plantation.
Americas CEO: Stephen Fenwick.
Founded: DHL was established in the U.S. in 1969. The company opened its US headquarters in Planation in 2002, where it already had its International Americas division. The two units were later merged to form DHL Express Americas.
Employees: About 320 in Plantation, 8,640 in Latin America and the Caribbean and 15,000 in the entire region.
Regional countries covered: 55.
Hubs: Cincinnati (global hub), Miami and Panama.
Ownership: Parent company Deutsch Post DHL is publicly traded.
Source: DHL Express