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Business Observer Friday, Apr. 12, 2019 3 months ago

International focus, delivery flexibility fuel big gains for DHL Express in region

The logistics company sees huge growth in Tampa, driven by e-commerce and final-mile innovations.

DHL Express, a division of German-based shipping company DHL, continues to thrive in the Tampa Bay region.

A year after opening a new $5 million, 35,000-square-foot facility in Tampa, the company has seen a 20.5% increase in shipping volume, says Greg Hewitt, CEO of the U.S. unit of DHL Express, headquartered in Plantation.

Hewitt passed through Tampa this week during a tour of the company’s Florida facilities, in a lead-up to an international employee engagement event — a cheerleading and soccer competition called the DHL Americas Cup that will bring teams of workers from across North and South America to Orlando for three days of fun and fellowship.

It took 15 years for DHL Express to expand its operations in Tampa, but Hewitt considers the region a key market now and in the years to come, citing the area’s strong e-commerce and banking sectors. He says Tampa Bay is above average when it comes to the volume of inbound international shipping that DHL handles. Outbound is below average but he chalks that up to the strong U.S. dollar impacting exports across the board.

DHL Express competes with FedEx and UPS for domestic shipments in the United States. But Hewitt says international shipping and logistics will continue to be its primary focus, particularly now that e-commerce rivals brick-and-mortar retail in many countries, and more small- and mid-size firms need help with duty and tax calculations and travel time estimates. The company does business in 221 countries. “We make shipping international simple for our customers,” Hewitt says. 

Another innovation that helps DHL compete is an emphasis on giving end recipients the power to make changes to delivery windows and locations without being DHL customers themselves.

“They can do all of that without registering and giving their information to us,” Hewitt says. “We’re now down to about a 5% failure rate, meaning just 5% of our inbound shipments don’t get delivered on the first attempt.”

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