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A Great Rental Business

October 1, 2012

Rental businesses have come and gone. People used to rent betamax and VHS tapes. Then came the DVDs. Technology has allowed movies and music to be downloaded or streamed. The betamax no longer exists much less rented.

There are some enduring products that even with technological changes still have a market if it’s rented. One of these is the car. The car may undergo many changes or technological improvement but people still rent cars for various reasons.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car has grown to become an international business primarily by renting cars. This company began in 1957 with 7 cars that were for lease. It was known as the Executive Leasing Company based in St. Louis, Missouri.

Jack Taylor the founder was able to adjust his business by also providing cars for rent.  Some customers who leased cars also needed to rent cars if the leased cars were in the garage for repair. This evolved into the concept of having community-based rental services as opposed to other car rental companies who anchored their businesses in airports.

Maximizing the assets and business opportunity at hand the company also started a car sales division in 1962 about the same time it began offering rental service. Expanding outside of St. Louis, the company soon found it couldn’t use the name, Executive in some markets. The business was instead renamed Enterprise in honor of the aircraft carrier which the company founder served on during WW II as a decorated pilot.

The business just kept growing that by 1980 Enterprise opened its National Reservation Center. Customers can call toll-free and make reservations nationwide. In 1989 the company changed its name to Enterprise Rent-A-Car to show that its main business was really more into car rental than leasing.  By 1992 the company’s annual revenue passed the $1 billion mark.  The following year Enterprise went international by opening an office in Windsor, Canada.

Enterprise did not also let the airport rental model slip by opening its first on-airport rental location at the Denver International Airport.  In 2004 the company had 6,000 offices in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, England, and Germany.  It has offices with 15 miles of 90 percent of the entire U.S. population.

Today the company has around 714,000 vehicles from more than 7,000 locations with about 6,000 of these in the U.S.  This is truly a great rental business.

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