Enterprising Ideas: An Interview with Andy Taylor and Bryan Scott of Enterprise Holdings
During the 2019 NDTA-USTRANSCOM Fall Meeting in St. Louis, Mr. Andrew (Andy) C. Taylor, Executive Chairman of Enterprise Holdings Inc., took the stage to welcome the audience to St. Louis.
Enterprise Holdings, headquartered in St. Louis, is one of the largest privately-held companies in America. The company operates in over 100 countries worldwide, taking in approximately $26 billion in revenues for Fiscal Year 2019. With a fleet of 2 million vehicles, the Enterprise family of brands includes Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Rent A Car, and National Car Rentals.
Enterprise was founded in St. Louis by Andy’s father, Jack Taylor, following Jack’s return from World War II. Over the years, the company has kept its founder’s military service close to its heart.
Andy began his career at Enterprise washing cars and learning the business from the ground up at the age of 16. More than 50 years later, he has established himself as a true leader in the travel industry.
Bryan Scott is Enterprise Holdings’ Assistant Vice President of US Government Business. In this role, Bryan manages the company’s partnerships with the US federal government and oversees the federal government rental programs. He also recently became Chairperson of NDTA’s Government Passenger Travel Advisory Council (GPTAC).
DTJ sat down with Andy and Bryan to hear more about Enterprise’s rich history, its work with the US military and government, and their thoughts on the future of the car rental industry.
DTJ: Enterprise has a rich heritage as an organization, tell us about Enterprise’s story.
Andy Taylor: Enterprise Holdings does have a rich and distinctive heritage that we are very proud of. It all started in 1942, when my father, Jack Taylor, enlisted and served as a Navy Hellcat pilot during World War II. When he returned from the war, he was eager to raise his family and start a business in our hometown of St. Louis. He founded the Executive Leasing Company in 1957 with a fleet of just seven cars, one employee and a commitment to provide exceptional customer service.
In 1969, my father and his team decided to expand business beyond St. Louis and renamed the company “Enterprise” in honor of the aircraft carrier he served on during WWII.
Lessons my father learned in the Navy, including integrity, hard work, team spirit and simply doing the right thing, helped shape his personality and the business. His simple but enduring business philosophy—“Take care of your customers and your employees first, and the profits will follow”—still guides our efforts today.
There are many milestones we have celebrated as a company. But, 2007 was a monumental year for us. We acquired the National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands in the largest acquisition ever in the car rental industry. One of the reasons this was so significant for us is because up until then, we were primarily growing organically through our successful pioneering of the neighborhood rental business. In 2009, we renamed the company Enterprise Holdings, Inc. to reflect our company’s expanded portfolio.
DTJ: 62 years is a long time to be in business. How has Enterprise managed to survive and thrive for all these years—what do you think sets the company apart?
Andy Taylor: In the early stages, when many car rental companies were focused on airports, my father explored a different path. He heard from customers they wanted to rent cars where they live and work, not just at airports. He listened to this feedback and built an unparalleled neighborhood network of Enterprise Rent-A-Car locations in communities across North America and eventually Western Europe.
Over the years, we have grown our business one customer and one neighborhood at a time. The number of services we offer is continuing to expand, with programs including renting, car leasing, car sales, vanpooling, carsharing, truck rental, online ride-matching and, most recently, subscription. We’ve continued to build our portfolio of options in a very thoughtful way, listening to our customers and bringing forth services and solutions to meet their needs.
Beyond our variety of offerings, I believe it’s our customer service that sets us apart in the industry. Complete customer satisfaction is the principle that has guided our company along our journey so far, and it remains instrumental within our culture today. From the beginning, we have focused on providing customers with an exceptional level of service to keep them coming back.
DTJ: And you still maintain your close ties to the US military. Can you tell us a little about that?
Andy Taylor: Yes, Enterprise continues to recognize and honor its military heritage. Currently, military veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserves make up more than 10 percent of Enterprise Holdings’ total US workforce, asnd we employ more than 2,000 military spouses. Enterprise Holdings also provides vehicle rental services at more than 60 US military installations throughout the country.
Currently, military veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserves make up more than 10 percent of Enterprise Holdings’ total US workforce, and we employ more than 2,000 military spouses.
Beyond that, we are committed to supporting organizations making a difference for our veterans. Since 2013, the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation, our philanthropic arm, has committed more than $6 million to the Fisher House Foundation, which provides no-cost lodging to the families of veterans receiving treatment at military medical centers. We’ve also teamed up with Progressive Insurance for the past seven years to support their annual Keys to Progress program that has donated over 700 vehicles to veterans and their families.
DTJ: Besides supporting the military, I have read you also support the government during times of disaster relief. Would you please tell us about that work?
Bryan Scott: Giving back to the communities where we live and work is an extremely important value to our company. And, as Andy has always said, “In times of natural disaster, we need to make friends and not profits.”
When hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, hailstorms and other natural disasters strike a community, we play a unique role in providing local transportation alternatives to those impacted. Because Enterprise operates more than 7,100 neighborhood and airport branch offices throughout North America, we are prepared and staffed to respond quickly and seamlessly. We move vehicles throughout the continent into affected areas and help catastrophe teams get the recovery and restoration process underway as quickly as possible. In fact, even before storms hit, we often collaborate with first responders before they arrive in potentially affected areas to determine needs and conditions to service.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car also has a Mobile Emergency Response Vehicle (MERV) to operate as a portable and state-of-the-art branch office in the event of an emergency in the US or Canada. The transformed 32-foot, 22-passenger airport shuttle bus is equipped with three workstations, five computers and a front counter. MERV can operate for more than 120 hours on a generator, providing on-site assistance even if local power has not yet been restored.
We know we need to move fast and efficiently in these situations. Because of this, our employees are also often sent home with mobile tablets, we call them Enterprise LaunchPad® tablets, which allow them to process rental transactions away from the counter in virtually any location. With this resource, our employees can quickly be reassigned from inoperable branch offices to other facilities to assist customers in need.
DTJ: It sounds like you have figured out how to help your customers when they need it most. On the subject of technology, what else do you see in the pipeline? What other technology can we expect in the future from the car rental industry?
Bryan Scott: The whole transportation and mobility industry is undergoing change—much of it driven by technology. Whether that’s connected vehicles or eventually autonomous vehicles, we understand that our travel customers have different priorities. Some want to save time. Some want to save money. And some want to reduce the stress of their daily commute. Using technology to improve the customer experience is a critical goal.
Connected cars is just one area in which we are investing. We are working with vehicle manufacturers to add several hundred thousand connected vehicles to our fleet in the next few years, with the goal of having the world’s largest, fully connected fleet of 2 million vehicles.
The connected car will have benefits for both the traveler and for our industry from an operational/efficiency standpoint. For example, eventually when a customer pulls into a car lot, the car could tell us the odometer reading, tire pressure, fuel volume and other vital data that speeds customer transaction times.
Ensuring the industry is keeping pace with innovation is critical. Enterprise has spent more than $3 billion on acquisitions and corporate-venture capital investments or commitments since 2008. For example, in the past fiscal year, we acquired Deem, an innovative online travel platform for business travelers. We’ve also made investments in companies focusing on innovations such as IoT, same-day fuel delivery service, autonomous vehicle sensors and more.
DTJ: What are your thoughts on autonomous vehicles?
Bryan Scott: I believe that in the not-too-distant future, customers may be renting vehicles that drive themselves. We know many drivers first experience new automotive technologies in rental vehicles, and there’s no reason to think it will be any different with autonomous technology. Enterprise has been delivering transportation alternatives where people live and work since 1957, and that will continue, regardless of what that looks like in the future.
DTJ: Mr. Taylor, you will be a keynote speaker during NDTA’s 2020 GovTravels meeting. Can you give us any insights as to what attendees should expect?
Andy Taylor: Yes, I am very much looking forward to speaking at the GovTravels meeting next year! Attendees can expect to hear my vision for the industry and where I think it’s headed. I’ll also discuss the Enterprise heritage, the importance of supporting government travelers and I’ll dive into our commitment to strengthening our communities, one neighborhood at a time. I look forward to seeing everyone there.
DTJ: Thank you so much for your time today. I always like to ask if there is anything we haven’t covered that you would like to share with DTJ’s readers?
Bryan Scott: I would just like to add that Enterprise Holdings has been a proud partner to the National Defense Transportation Association for almost 30 years. One of our Founding Values states, “Great things happen when we listen… to our customers and each other.” NDTA provides us with the platform to interact, strategically plan, and in the end, allows us to put the industry in the best position to serve the US government. This relationship gives us the opportunity to affect real change to improve services for the government. We thank you for the partnership and look forward to working with you into the future.