By on July 3, 2016

Jack Taylor Headshot, Image: Enterprise Holdings

Jack Taylor has parked his car in the Emerald Aisle for the last time.

The man who built a rental-car company on top of a leasing business, birthed from a side office in a St. Louis Cadillac dealership, has died at the age of 94.

Enterprise Rent-a-Car grew in an unconventional way compared to its competitors, which focused mainly on airports. Mr. Taylor’s company instead leveraged home-town business with downtown locations to offer vehicles for purposes other than out-of-town travel.

According to the New York Times, Taylor named the business after the U.S.S. Enterprise, the aircraft carrier from which he flew sorties during World War II. He was a late bloomer when it came to business, but eventually turned Enterprise into one of the largest companies in the United States. Enterprise now buys more vehicles than any other entity in the country, and claims to hiring more college graduates than any other company.

Taylor is survived by a son and daughter who both hold executive positions in his companies.

We thank Mr. Taylor for providing all the rental vehicles we’ve reviewed over the years.

A full background on Mr. Taylor is available on the New York Times.

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29 Comments on “Jack Taylor, Founder of Enterprise, Dies at 94...”

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    When I worked at Progressive we dealt almost exclusively with ERAC. And even on my worst, soul-crushing days working there, I always felt bad for the poor saps working for Enterprise.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep, the folks at my local branch are always hustling, picking up renters and dropping them off while they’re trying to run the office. Absurd, they should have dedicated drivers just for that task. Often I pass by and there is a long line waiting and only one attendant.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, that’s why it cost less to rent there.

        Personal attention by multiple employees, costs. Inconvenience through having to wait for one busy multitasker may be annoying but cuts the overhead.

        I don’t know if I’d waste time on sympathy for the Enterprise help. Busy hands are happy hands, as the saying goes…time passes when you have a lot to do. And one of the hardest things to do, on the job, is NOTHING.

        Enterprise was sure a game-changer. More than even Rent-A-Wreck, it put short-term auto renting within reach of the average person who didn’t have an insurance chit backing up his need. In the Navy in California, where car ownership was a real chore…Enterprise’s then-revolutionary three-day weekend rental rates on econoboxes, were a real savings. Three days, unlimited mileage, twenty dollars a day…a trip to VEGAS, baby! Who needs to buy/insure/repair/park/worry about an old beater stashed in an overflow lot at the Naval Station?

        One more great mind with an odd vision that led to increasing the choices for so many.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m torn. The man built an empire and died, which should be a good thing. OTOH, he built Enterprise Rent A Car, which is one of the worst corporations outside of Monsanto, GE, and various green energy cancers. I used to have a job where I had to rent numerous Enterprise cars. I learned to inspect them before accepting them, and most of the time I wound up taking the one with the least bukakke evidence. There’s no such thing as an Enterprise Rent A Car that hasn’t been ejaculated all over, even if it is a special car ordered new for a car company executive and rented to nobody before you take delivery. Creepy.

      • 0 avatar

        That hasn’t been my experience; and I’ve used Enterprise a LOT over the last 25 years. Everywhere from Cleveland to San Diego and Sandpoint, Idaho.

        The cars I would rent were loss-leaders and they were often cheap econoboxes; sometimes higher mileage and feeling it; but they never stank; they were not stained; they were not broken; and I never got stranded or otherwise screwed.

        I have to wonder if the above post is that of an internet troll trying to launch some sort of campaign.

        • 0 avatar

          Rented from Enterprise tons through the years. Sometimes by choice, and other times via service department or auto insurance – so non-choice.

          I’ve only had one, “you’ve got to be kidding me,” experience and that was all the way back in 1990. It was a doozie that included a cat urine smelling 4-cylinder Ford Taurus, complete with cat droppings in the back seat, and ended with a flat tire on the side of I-495 near Lawrence, Massachusetts at 11 PM, and no jack or spare tire in the trunk.

          I locked up the car on the side of the highway (keys in the glovebox), got a ride off the road to a payphone and had a friend from Worcester pick me up (that is a HAUL). Called Enterprise the next morning and told them what mile marker their rental was and they could come pick it up. They billed me $96 for the tire, which I refused to pay, and they turned it over to collections, where it lived for 7 years on my credit report.

          But again – that was in 1990. Since then I’ve never had an issue – and my last rental experience with them was actually outstanding.

          If you want a nightmare experience, rent from Dollar. They are by far the worst of the national chains.

      • 0 avatar

        Compelled to defend Enterprise on this one, having started my career there and having written literally thousands of rental tickets. What happens when a vehicle is in possession of the renter is one of life’s great mysteries. Hypodermics, loaded diapers, schedule 3 narcotics, firearms, porno, and even vermin have been left in the vehicles, sometimes a product of haste and sometimes simple negligence. The work was so hard and relentless I made a pact with myself that I would quit by X date if it didn’t get better, which it did, but not by much, so I kept extending the deadline. By the time I ran my own branch I got the drift that Enterprise was a very special place to learn about people and business, and that it had (and still has) every intention to do right by the customer and community. Looking back on those days in Rental, I’m not sure I could do it again- your attitude has to be there no matter what the situation. I’ll tell you one thing- a young candidate with a few years at Enterprise under her belt possesses a huge advantage- a legit work ethic and the desire to do well by the customer. My condolences and gratitude to the Taylor Family.

  • avatar

    He and his son drove dark green S-Class Mercedes when I worked at Plaza Motors about 10 years ago. Too dark to be “Enterprise Green” but green nonetheless. Hard to miss their corporate offices along I-170 with the Enterprise Green roof.

    Old-timers in St Louis referred to Enterprise as “Executive Rent A Car” which makes me think the enterprise name was added later.

    ELCO Chevrolet/Cadillac in St. Louis County apparently stands for Enterprise Leasing Company…Enterprise is a big employer in the STL metro area.

    I’m told that their hiring model involves good-looking, affable new college grads who were in the bottom half of their graduating class that they can work like dogs. Lots of college athletes wind up working for ERAC. It’s also an “up or out” model, either you progress quickly in the company or you hit the road.

    • 0 avatar

      “I’m told that their hiring model involves good-looking, affable new college grads ”

      Too bad this wasn’t everybody’s model. Might force the obese to put their favorite past time on the back burner.

      Make America slim again!

    • 0 avatar

      Ahhh…representin’ for the 314…

      Where did you go to high school?

      (You KNOW that’s the question…)

      • 0 avatar

        FreedMike, I moved to STL to attend St Louis U…guess telling you I graduated from Cincinnati St. Xavier wouldn’t mean much, but think of it as DeSmet or SLU High…

        And that IS the question in STL. In Cincinnati it goes farther back than that…what parish are you from/what grade school because of course every Catholic parish HAD an elementary school in the 70s. You can tell all you need to know about someone’s upbringing based on the parish they are from. The parish they are in now will tell you how they’re doing economically but where they are from is the important one.

  • avatar

    I rent often from our local Enterprise branch. It saves me from having an extra car and supplies me with the type of vehicle I need for the day. I too have noticed that the employees are recent college grads and very pleasant to deal with. I don’t know if this is due to training or to good vetting of candidates. I see nothing wrong with giving a recent grad a job and requiring hard work. My daughter graduated college in 2009 and there were not a lot of jobs for that class then. She found a job elsewhere, but she too needed a bit of work ethic and acceptance of supervision. These grads (with no technical or marketable training) are lucky to get a day job, with no Sundays and no heavy lifting. Their next employer gets someone who has proven he/she can show up on time, look presentable, and work for 8 hours. I would much prefer that job to flipping burgers and smelling of fry grease.

    • 0 avatar

      gasser, that’s the exact niche that Mr Taylor sought to address and accommodate. My experiences renting from Enterprise over the decades were overwhelmingly good.

      Whenerever we needed an extra truck or Van, we would rent it at the three-day weekend rate, Fri-Sat-Sun, and return it first thing Mon.

      I’ve lost count of how many times renting that extra vehicle from Enterprise saved my bacon. OTOH, Hertz has done good by me too.

  • avatar

    I agree, I have no issue with teaching the little darlin’s hard work and how to wash a car in a suit and tie. The kids who didn’t perform very well in college will have LIMITED job prospects and have to start somewhere.

  • avatar

    The big problem with the local branch is not having the car you requested when you arrive, so they give you a different one, or you have to wait for one to come from another location which is a waste of time. Seems like reservations mean little to these guys.

    • 0 avatar

      Corollaman, I’ve never had that happen. And I have lost count of the number of times I rented a pickup truck or full-size Van from our local branch.

      I told the local branch what I needed, and that I needed a towing hitch, and when we picked it up, there it was.

      Brands of vehicles varied, but configuration was always what I had specified. It wouldn’t work for me if they tried to give me a sedan if I needed a pickup truck for towing or a full-size Van (like for hauling and laying carpet.)

      • 0 avatar

        The one near me is kind of small and it serves a pretty large clientele. Not many cars on its lot

        • 0 avatar

          Corollaman, ahh so. The one in my town is a branch of the ones in El Paso, TX, and Las Cruces, NM, and simply shuttles its cars to the locations where needed.

          Plus, they have the contracts to supply several military installations in this area with rentals for personnel assigned, as needed.

  • avatar

    Enterprise was the only rental car company who would pick me up, and drop me off when I rented from them. That alone was enough to make me a lifetime customer.

    RIP, Mr. Taylor.

  • avatar

    “Jack Taylor has parked his car in the Emerald Aisle for the last time.”

    If he founded Enterprise, why did he leave his car at National Car Rental?

    (Yeah, yeah, I know they’re owned by the same company now.)

  • avatar

    Worked their for 4 years. The good thing is that having it on your resume is a ticket to pretty much anything since everyone knows it takes a special person to put up with the constant mess that is that company. Don’t miss it in the slightest.

  • avatar

    My experience has been that no one answers the phone, and when you finally get an answer, no one on the phone knows their hind end from a hole in the ground.

    Our rule is – rent from anyone but NO ENTERPRISE EVER!!!

    And their prices aren’t any lower than the other low price agencies. (Never mind Hertz and Avis who obviously are catering to the expense-account crowd with their prices that are two times the going rate.)

  • avatar

    The biggest knock I’ve heard on Enterprise, consumer-wise, is stories of renters being hit with body damage claims after returning the rent cars, when there wasn’t any damage on the cars when returned. The problem usually occurs when renters drop the car at a body shop where they’ve had their own car repaired, and there’s no Enterprise available to do a walk-around.

    This makes me a little nervous, as I’m getting ready to put my Tacoma in the body shop to get some hail damage repaired. My insurer is Farmers, and they use Enterprise.

  • avatar

    False body damage claims have been part of their business model for decades. They tried it on me once many years ago and I have avoided using them for any reason ever since. And this was at their own facility, not a body shop.

    • 0 avatar

      Funny, that.

      I rented from them last month, and pointed out a scrape and a big ding on the door of the Challenger they were giving me, before I signed the papers.

      She said “Those wouldn’t count, a scratch has to be longer than six inches, and a door ding has to be golf ball sized or larger. That’s company policy.”

      So now we’ll need more details to back up your claim.

  • avatar

    The pick up and drop off feature is very handy, making it much easier for me to rent. Their rates are lower than Avis, even with my 20% work discount. And they gave me an upgrade just because I asked them for something more interesting than a Camry. They didn’t hassle me about buying extra insurance (because I don’t carry full coverage), which Avis forced me to do before they’d give me keys, at $10/day.

    No complaints so far from Enterprise.

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