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The trailblazers who transformed the express business and global trade

News & Resources · 5 min read

The trailblazers who transformed the express business and global trade

Today, documents can be digitally transferred in an instant, but 50 years ago, to get an urgent document from A to B, someone had to get in a car or on an aircraft and take it there in person.

DALSAY (1914-1994). In 1969, Adrian Dalsey was working as a salesman for a company called Mickles-poe and Associates (MPA), that had carved out a niche couriering documents for insurance companies. But in the summer of that year, a chance conversation in LA grocery store car park with colleague Larry Hillblom was to mark the start of a brand new venture.

HILLBLOM (1943-1995). Larry Hillblom was also working for as a courier for MPA while studying law at the University of California, Berkeley. He would fly straight after class from Oakland o LA to deliver documents, before getting the first flight back in time for class the following morning. He and Adrian agreed that MPA had missed a lot of lucrative opportunities. It wasn’t only the insurant industry that needed a speedy courier service, banks also relied on a fast turnaround on deposit checks to start claiming interest, and shippers could also save days or even weeks in port if their bills of lading could be flown.

LYNN (1922-1998). Robert Lynn was born in Bulgaria and raised in Austria before emigrating to the USA in 1949. The company he owned was called Real Estate Data Ltd. Robert became part of DHL, through he dropped out shortly after the business was incorporated in 1969.

Becoming DHL Express

Over the following years, Adrian and Larry continued to build the business alongside a small team of trusted lieutenants. In 1980, Adrian sold his stake while Larry continued to innovate.

Larry ran the business in the face of opposition from postal monopolies, government agencies and competitors. His legal training gave him the knowledge to face down his detractors and he was uncompromising in his defense of the company. He continued to steer DHL during the 1980s before moving to the island of Saipan in the western Pacific Ocean, where he built an impressive portfolio of development projects.

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