Jack Taylor, a Navy pilot in World War II who started a leasing company with just seven cars in a St. Louis Cadillac store and built it into Enterprise Rent-A-Car, one of the biggest buyers and sellers of cars and trucks in the world, died July 2. He was 94.
Taylor, benefiting from post-war household growth across America, reshaped the rental car industry from its airport roots, opening outlets in downtowns, suburbs and commercial office hubs with a simple pitch: "We'll pick you up."
Taylor returned to St. Louis after the war and founded a package delivery business before taking a sales position in 1948 with Lindburg Cadillac.
In partnership with the Lindburg family, Taylor founded Executive Leasing in 1957 on the lower level of the Cadillac dealership in St. Louis.
Over time, some leasing customers and owners of Lindburg cars who had brought them in for repairs inquired about short-term rentals.
But Taylor resisted, viewing the rental-car landscape as too competitive, "a big pain," and a time-consuming distraction for the leasing sales staff. He relented in 1963 and started a sideline rental business with 17 Chevrolets. Taylor charged $5 a day and 5 cents a mile for a rental, The New York Times reported.
Enterprise differed from rivals by letting people pick up and drop off vehicles from non-airport locations.
Under Taylor's son, Andrew, who succeeded him as CEO in 1991, Enterprise in 2007 acquired National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car, combining three of the biggest rental brands in the U.S. under what became Enterprise Holdings Inc. in 2009.
Today, Enterprise Holdings has a fleet of over 1.7 million vehicles, 9,000 locations in more than 80 countries and territories, and 91,000 employees. It generated annual revenue of $19.4 billion in fiscal 2015 and was the 16th-largest U.S. private company last year, according to Forbes magazine.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.