A Man on a Mission
Whether working in the
armed services, running a business, or assisting community
organizations, Jack Taylor has led each endeavor by
aspiring to the highest values, applying discipline,
and building teamwork.
Jack C. Taylor, BU '44
after Jack Taylor enrolled in Washington University's business school
in 1940, the United States entered World War II. He left school
to join the U.S. Navy, and soon distinguished himself as a Naval
aviator, flying F6F Hellcat fighters from the decks of the USS Essex
and the USS Enterprise. As a member of America's "greatest
generation," he earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses and the
Navy Air Medal, while acquiring values of teamwork and discipline
that have served him well as a businessman and community citizen.
After the war, he returned to St. Louis
to start a small trucking business, and then went to work for Arthur
Lindburg's Cadillac distributorship. Rising to the post of sales
manager, he approached his boss with an idea to start an automobile
leasing business. With Lindburg's help, Executive Leasing was established
in 1957the beginning of a remarkable business success story.
In the early 1960s, Taylor expanded into
the rental car business with 17 cars. Not wanting to compete with
the well-established airport rental companies, he looked for an
area of the rental market that wasn't being served. He found that
market first by working with insurance adjusters who needed cars
for customers whose cars had been stolen. His community-based business
then found its way into the "spare car" niche, supplying cars to
people whose family cars were in the shop, too small for visiting
guests, too unreliable for weekend trips, or too worn for escorting
key business clients.
As the business grew, each office was run
like a family business following Taylor's business credo: "Take
care of your customers and employees first, and profits will follow."
Jack's son, Andy, who succeeded him as chairman of Enterprise Rent-A-Car
in 2002, clarifies: "You put customers first, because if they are
satisfied, they will come back. And by making sure employees are
happy, well-informed, and part of a team atmosphere, they will provide
the best service possible."
The company's progress from those early
days proves that Taylor's business philosophy works: Enterprise
Rent-A-Car (renamed in 1969 for the Navy aircraft carrier on which
Jack served) is now No. 1 in the rental business, with 500,000 rental
cars, 100,000 leased vehicles, 5,000 branch offices, and more than
50,000 employees. Enterprise operates a growing international business,
with operations in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the
Taylor himself is among those who have
boldly stepped forward to ensure that the University will be able
to attract the most talented and promising students, regardless
of their ability to pay.
Jack and Andy Taylor have received many
honors for their business success and community service, including
Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the 2001 St.
Louis Citizens of the Year. An example of the esteem in which the
father-son team is held within the company was company executives'
establishment of the Taylor Community Consulting Program in the
Olin School of Business. The program is designed to enable bright
young business students to benefit the nonprofit community with
their ideas and advice.
With such business success has come the
opportunity for Jack, the Taylor family, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car
to support the community in many ways. Jack founded the Enterprise
Rent-A-Car Foundation, now headed by his daughter, Jo Ann Taylor
Kindle. The family and company have given some $140 million to causes
and organizations in St. Louis and other communities in which the
company operates. Many of those gifts have supported diversity initiatives
in the community and in education, a guiding principle in the company's
own business practices.
Here again, Jack Taylor has found a niche
to fill. The Taylors and the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation center
their giving on the company's hometown of St. Louis because, as
Jack says: "We want St. Louis to remain a first-class
city with first-class cultural institutions. Much of our giving
is based on our personal feelings. If we feel positive about an
institution or organization, particularly if we have a personal
connection, then we consider giving more seriously."
Recently, the company and family have made
benchmark gifts to several organizations that have set new standards
for philanthropy. A $40 million challenge gift to the world-renowned
Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra earned national attention. The gift,
to build endowment to maintain the orchestra's reputation as one
of the world's premier ensembles, is the largest in the symphony's
history and, at the time, the largest personal contribution made
to an American orchestra for operations and endowment.
The Taylors gave $30 million to the Missouri
Botanical Garden to support global plant researchthe largest
gift to a U.S. botanical gardenbecause of Jack's concerns
about the degradation of the environment. Their $10 million gift
to launch the National Flight Academy at the National Museum of
Naval Aviation, the direct result of Jack's connection to the U.S.
Navy, will cover one-third of the new institution's construction
Other major gifts have supported the restoration
of Forest Park (St. Louis' historic municipal park), the National
Urban League, and the survivors of 9/11. But perhaps the most significant,
because of its continuing impact for years to come, was the gift
announced October 18, 2001, that established the Enterprise Rent-A-Car
Scholars Program at Washington University. The program, to support
scholarships for minority and financially disadvantaged students,
was established with a gift of $25 million, the largest commitment
made to the University for undergraduate scholarships.
James E. McLeod, vice chancellor for students
and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, says: "This gift will
enable us to support more students who might otherwise be shut out
of the opportunity for a Washington University education. It's wonderful
to be able to stand up in front of prospective students and their
parents and say, 'We have a friend who has invested in your and
the University's aspirations.'"
Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton says: "The
Taylors are great citizens of our community in so many ways. Their
company's gift to the University demonstrates Enterprise Rent-A-Car's
commitment to expanding opportunities for deserving young scholars
throughout our society to attend Washington University."
Jack Taylor says, "I continue to be impressed
with what is being done to make Washington University one of the
best in the world." Taylor himself is among those who have boldly
stepped forward to ensure that the University will continue its
ascent among the world's premier institutions of higher education
and will be able to attract the most talented and promising students,
regardless of their ability to pay.