The Damco history starts early in the 20th century, when two new freight forwarding companies were established in Europe.
A.P. Møller and his father P. Mærsk Møller founded a shipping company in 1904 in Svendborg, Denmark with just a single freighter. It was the early start of what would later become the A.P. Møller Mærsk Group.
One year later, in 1905 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, the logistic company C.W.H. van Dam & Co was established. This company initially focused on providing freight forwarding services between Germany and Rotterdam along the river Rhine.
Almost a century later these two companies came together as one of the world’s leading third-party logistics providers, specialising in international, end-to-end supply chain logistics offering choices of mode and carrier: Damco International B.V.
In 1918 the Rijnvaart Maatschappij Damco emerged out of C.W.H. van Dam & Co, which in 1988 became part of the Dutch Royal Nedlloyd Group and was renamed Damco Maritime. In 1996 Nedlloyd merged with the British P&O Containers Ltd to become P&O Nedlloyd. To reflect the growing emphasis on the development of airfreight within P&O Nedlloyd, Damco Maritime was rebranded Damco Sea & Air.
In 1977, the A.P. Møller Mærsk Group established consolidation services in Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong under the name Mercantile. Mercantile introduced warehousing, distribution and global airfreight services in 1998. One year later, in 1999, the Mærsk Group acquired parts of the US shipping line Sealand, including Sealand Logistics. Mercantile and Sealand Logistics merged in 2000 under a new name: Mærsk Logistics.
In 2005 Damco Sea & Air became part of the A.P. Møller Mærsk Group with their acquisition of P&O Nedlloyd and was combined with the other freight forwarding operations of Mærsk Logistics under the brand name Damco. Four years later the entire Logistics Business Unit was rebranded under the single brand name Damco.
Further expansion and relocation of headquarters
In 2010 Maersk Distribution Services Inc in the USA was transferred into Damco and renamed Damco Distribution Services Inc.
In 2011 Damco acquired the Chinese air freight forwarder New Times International Transport Service (NTS), followed by the acquisition of the Australian forwarder Pacific Network Global Logistics (PacNet) in 2012.
The Damco headquarters relocated in 2013 to its current location in The Hague, The Netherlands – not that far from where C.W.H. van Dam started his company back in 1905. Compared to those early days, the number of Damco employees has grown from 8 to about 11,000 and the number of locations worldwide grew from 1 to approximately 300.
In 2016, Maersk Group re-grouped all logistics-related activities under a new Transport & Logistics unit. Damco is one of the 5 pillars of the unit, together with Maersk Line, APM Terminals, Svitzer and Maersk Container Industry.