Multi-billionaire Jack Taylor, who went from Navy fighter pilot during World War II to founder of the largest rental car company in the United States, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, has passed away after a short illness. He was 94.
The Missouri-born businessman got his break in 1957 after founding precursor business Executive Leasing from the basement of a Cadillac dealership in St Louis, where he worked as a salesman.
Today Enterptise Holding, the parent company of Enterprise Rent-a-Car and several subsiduaries, is the 16th-largest privately owned business in the United States, with revenues of $19.4 billion in 2015, according to Forbes.
"My father took a simple idea and created a great company," said Andrew Taylor, Enterprise Holding’s second-generation executive chairman, who took over the role from his father in 2001. His daughter Chrissy, 39, was appointed chief operating officer of Enterprise Holding in February.
"We will miss him. But we will honour his memory every day as we live the values he instilled in our company – taking care of our customers and giving back," he added.
The nonagenarian was a prolific philanthropist, donating more than $860 million to various organisations, including Washington University, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Forest Park, while the combined philanthropic activities of the Taylor family now exceed $1 billion.
Taylor frequently claimed it was his military service that prepared him for the business world, noting that “after landing a Hellcat on the pitching deck of a carrier, or watching enemy bullets stream past your canopy, the risk of starting up a company didn't seem all that big of a deal.”
Enterprise bought the Alamo and National brands in 2007 to strengthen its position and now has more than 1.7 million vehicles in its fleet – more than twice the size of each of its main competitors, Hertz and Avis.
The Taylor family owns an estimated 87.5% of Enterprise Holdings.