DHL Opens Mega Facility in the GTA
International express mail services company DHL has opened its new Canadian headquarters in Brampton, Ontario, just northwest of Toronto. The centralized facility encompasses 34,000-square feet of office space and a brand new 100,000-square foot warehouse that will house the company’s 360 Toronto-based employees, including operations and corporate functions. Previously they were spread out over three separate locations.
The new head office meets current requirements for DHL Express Canada’s international shipping business and is plenty large enough to accommodate future expansion. In total, about 60 per cent of the entire DHL Canadian workforce is stationed within the large warehouse building, including a centralized national call centre. The facility will also be the new Toronto-area operations centre.
The new location will provide capacity to process packages from 57 international routes, with an ability to expand to 90 routes as the business expands.
DHL Express is a division of German logistics company Deutsche Post AG, which took over majority ownership in 2001. There are about 275,000 employees worldwide.
Among those on hand for the official opening ceremonies were: Ken Allen, Global CEO, DHL Express and Greg Hewitt, President, DHL Express Canada, who spoke with CBJ during the opening ceremony about how the entire process unfolded.
“It started with the decision DHL made at the start of 2011 to look for a partner to sell the domestic business to, so we worked behind the scenes with
TransForce and came to a deal that sold our domestic assets to them in June of last year,” Hewitt explains. “At that time it meant we were separating our facilities and our business. They would keep the domestics and we would keep the international operations.”
In the Greater Toronto Area there wasn’t a single or distinct international facility so it meant DHL had to go out and acquire space. As Hewitt says, it was seen as a great opportunity to amalgamate the workforce.
“Corporate headquarters, the customer service call centre, our brokerage clearance group and our local operation for the GTA are all housed under one roof.”
The major aspect of the build revolved around the call centre.
“It had a very traditional small office space in the front and a large warehouse space,” Hewitt says. “What we did was build into the warehouse. There are about 150 customer service people and 50 brokerage personnel. That’s where we’re taking calls nationally for all of our shipments, any servicing inquiries for shipments coming in and out of the country as well as the brokerage group working closely with customs officials.”
Hewitt says the engineers did all the mapping and determined where they are now located would be the optimum for deliveries, including access to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
The idea is to have local knowledge and local expertise, so from that vantage point, Hewitt and his team make most of the major decisions that affect Canadian operations.
“We do have standardized processes and systems that we comply with and leverage, and you have to flow through the hierarchy, but the idea is to put as much of the decision-making through the local country team,” he reveals.
There’s definitely an international flavour to Hewitt’s executive team.
“My head of operations is from the U.S., my head of sales is a Frenchman from Paris and my CFO is Scottish,” he mentions. “But my HR and IT managers are Canadians through and through. A lot of us are network players and have done stints for DHL around the globe and are now here running the business in Canada.”
About 5,000 shipments come in to the facility on a daily basis with another 2,000 going out every night, picked up by 58 courier routes. Those numbers represent 40 per cent of the total volume processed nationally.
“We did sign a 10-year lease here, so it’s designed to handle our business growth, which is aggressive and double the market rate,” Hewitt offers. “I think we could very safely double the business in this building and still be comfortable.”
One of the pillars for DHL is the “Go Green” philosophy. The new facility is LEED Certified – with the acronym standing for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.