The world is not exactly short on third-party logistics (3PL) firms. It is a cut-throat business with low entry barriers and a very simple objective—bringing stuff from A to B, delivered to the right place on time, not damaged, as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Many firms buy services from 3PLs as part of their distribution models, and the best-known firms (DHL, UPS, Kuehne & Nagel, Schenker, Nippon Express, Sinotrans, C. H. Robinson) are some of the most sought-after companies in terms of M&A. Yet a Danish company called DSV has risen to the top of the ranks to become one of the most successful 3PL firms in the world, with an M&A track record so strong that it has gone from ten trucks to €10bn since its creation in the late 1970s.
The global transport and logistics business operates with razor-thin margins, and only a few companies can reach the top. As a general rule, the top 10 3PL companies come from the top 10 countries by population and by export—after all, the more people there are, the more goods there are to move. It is not surprising, therefore, to see US, Chinese, and Japanese firms rise to the top of the 3PL league. But what is a Danish company doing there?
DSV was established in Denmark in 1976 by nine independent truck drivers and a business developer called Leif Tullberg. Denmark was, and still is, hovering around number 36 in terms of global exports, and 111th when it comes to ...