The Pioneer Years
D&B’s history stretches back to 20 July 1841 when Lewis Tappan opened the Mercantile Agency in New York City.
As is the case today, an element of risk was involved in doing business with companies on the other side of the country inasmuch as you did not know your new business partners. The Mercantile Agency aimed to provide its customers security by supplying them with information regarding new business partners.
Tappan turned the Mercantile Agency over to Benjamin Douglass, a former clerk, who exploited the mid-nineteenth century developments in American transport and communications by establishing offices nationwide to collect data and deliver it to the headquarters in New York.
Another of Douglass' innovations was to begin the training of credit reporters. Working as a credit reporter was a respected position that provided strong training in sound business practices. Among the reporters who went on to establish names for themselves were four U.S. presidents: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, and William McKinley.
This same year, the rival John M. Bradstreet Company was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Benjamin Douglass turned the Mercantile Agency over to his brother-in-law, Robert Graham Dun. Under the new name, R.G. Dun & Company, Dun continued Douglass' relentless expansion. During the next 40 years, Dun spread the agency all over the United States and across international boundaries.
The Great Depression in the beginning of the 1930s put an end to decades of rivalry as the R.G. Dun and Bradstreet Companies merged to form D&B. The merger was engineered by Dun's CEO Arthur Whiteside, who used his first-rate diplomatic skills not only to broker a deal with his company's foremost competitor but also to lead D&B out of the Great Depression and into the Information Age.
D&B in the Modern Era
The rapid development of computing and communications technology in the post-war era has been central to D&B's growth. Whiteside's successor, J. Wilson Newman, recognised that D&B needed to take risks and increase its range of products and services. As a result, D&B expanded dramatically.
1963 saw the introduction of the Data Universal Numbering System (the D&B D-U-N-S® Number), which is used to identify businesses numerically for data-processing purposes. So successful has the D&B D-U-N-S Number been that it has become a standard business identifier across the globe.
Over the course of the 1970s, D&B fully computerised its data-collection operations, providing the ability to analyse categories of information in entirely new ways and to deliver information to customers faster and more economically.
D&B in the New Millennium - a part of Bisnode Corporation
In recent years, D&B has undergone a period of restructuring, designed to make it into a smaller, more tightly-focused company. D&B's core strategy is to maintain growth by focusing on the Web. An entirely new generation of products and services that provide customers with exciting opportunities for direct access to the information in our database has been created.
Our database is expanding daily. We hold current and consistent business information on more than 210 million companies in 220 countries, and with 1.5 million information updates per day, our data provides unique quality and reliability.
Our foremost task is to supply the data you need when you need it and wherever in the world you happen to be.
Today, Bisnode D&B Finland Oy – along with D&B branches in ten other European countries – form a part of the Bisnode Corporation, which is the largest partner in D&B's strategic network. Bisnode is one of Europe's largest suppliers of digital business information, including both company and consumer information. Bisnode's vision focuses on helping businesses find, retain, and develop customer relationships. Learn more at www.bisnode.fi