Jack Taylor, the former World War
II fighter pilot who founded Enterprise Holdings and helped build it into the
world’s largest rental car company, died in his hometown of St. Louis on
Saturday after a brief illness, the company said. He was 94.
Taylor, who as a Navy pilot flew
planes off of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Enterprise and later named his
company after the ship, founded his auto-leasing company in 1957 with seven
cars out of the Cadillac dealership where he was a salesman. His business added
shorter-term car rentals in 1962.
Taylor grew the company largely by
focusing on off-airport, neighborhood locations instead of airport operations,
where his company’s competitors generated much of their business.
Closely held Enterprise, which
employs 91,000 people, acquired Alamo Rent A Car and National Car Rental in
2007 and generated $19.4 billion for its most recently completed fiscal year.
The company accounts for about half of the U.S. car rental market, compared to
about 24% for Hertz Global Holdings and about 20% for Avis Budget Group,
according to trade publication Auto Rental News.
Taylor was succeeded as
Enterprise’s CEO in 1991 by his son, Andrew Taylor, who is now executive chairman
of the company. Jack Taylor’s granddaughter, Christine Taylor, is Enterprise’s
chief operating officer.
The Taylor family has donated
more than $1 billion to various causes, including Washington University, Saint
Louis Symphony Orchestra and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
“My father took a simple idea and
created a great company,” said Andrew C. Taylor in a statement. “We
will honor his memory every day as we live the values he instilled in our
company — taking excellent care of our customers, encouraging and supporting
each other and giving back to our communities.”