From a small team in 1970 that started DHL’s first outpost in the Western Pacific, to a 32-member team now overseeing operations throughout the wider Micronesia and Pacific region, the Guam office of express mail and courier companies has grown.
Greg Dornon, general manager of the DHL Express Guam office, said the company’s reach first stretched from San Francisco to Hawaii, then to Guam. From Guam, offices are set up in Palau, Saipan, the Federated States of Micronesia, and other parts of the Pacific.
This year, as DHL celebrates its 50th anniversary on the island, Dornon said the regional office is continuing to expand to meet customer demand, which has increased not only over the past decades but also in recent months.
“It was mainly business documents before they had a fax or something like that and now that has changed,” he said, noting that the drugs were among the products the company was entrusted to ship.
He said in the early days of the local office, employees would get six or seven bags of documents to deliver. Now, they earn 33,000 to 44,000 pounds in one day.
He said there had been an increase this year in direct consumer deliveries – a popular trend on the mainland that’s popular locally.
“We’ve always had some business-to-consumer – but we’re getting a lot out of that now where direct-to-consumer delivery,” says Dornon. “For Guam, the pandemic has really brought deliveries right to the door. We saw a significant increase in shipments. Our entry lanes go up by about 30% or 40% – so more shipments come in. “
Electronics and “many deliveries such as clothes” are delivered directly to residents’ doorsteps, he said.
While the pandemic is already impacting businesses and DHL ensuring all couriers have protective gear and vehicles in clean condition, the shift of consumers to online purchases is keeping companies busier than ever.
“During the pandemic, we had employed four employees,” said Dornon.
The local office also added two vehicles to fleet 15. That’s nearly three times the six in use when Dornon first arrived in Guam more than 20 years ago.
Dornon said DHL was ready to continue serving the island in the coming years and to adapt to changing consumer attitudes.
“You will see we are hiring more people, you will see we are meeting important delivery needs, (like) medicines,” he said. “Even when the passengers on the plane have left, the demand for cargo is increasing and I think it will increase.”
And the convenience of ordering goods online, Dornon said, is unlikely to decrease, based on consumer behavior on the mainland.
“I think we’re going to see a lot more in the express industry, where deliveries go straight to home,” said Dornon, adding that his brother-in-law could order on Amazon in the morning, and receive it that afternoon.
“I thought it would be in Guam,” he said. “We are very far away but we will get even more home deliveries, … it will become more and more economical as volume grows.”
Dornon said Guam customers value DHL’s service and the company is trying to ensure its service meets demand. He praised the company’s success for the employees, in which the company invested.
“Guam is DHL’s regional office, which oversees Saipan, Palau, American Samoa, Marshall Islands, FSM,” he said. “We employ everything locally.”
DHL provides extensive training for all employees, sending them off the island for a few days and training them. Employees are trained in integrity in doing the job right the first time and doing the job with passion.
“As a company, we are really focused on looking after our people and making sure that we have given them the tools to be their best,” said Dornon.
“Our people make the difference. That’s the key. Everyone has airplanes, trucks and buildings. … The employees – they are what make the company better, ”he added.
With the pandemic, companies are looking for ways to help ensure customer comfort and safety. One of the upcoming programs is contactless delivery.
“So customers can arrange for us to leave packages at their doorstep where they don’t have to sign,” he said. “I think it’s probably going to be a trend in the future, where customers who want contactless delivery can manage.”
In addition, within a year or two, Guam customers can get an application that will allow them to follow the DHL courier who receives their shipment.
“I really think consumers will enjoy delivery – where they don’t have to go to the store for everything they can order – whether it’s US mail or (via) one of our competitors,” said Dornon.
That’s the wave of the future and that’s what’s happening in the state, said Dornon.
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