Lehman Brothers Collection - Contemporary Business Archives

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Lehman Brothers Collection

Twentieth-Century Business Archives

The Hertz Corporation - Lehman Brothers Collection

The Hertz Corporation

List of Deals

The origins of the Hertz Corporation date back to 1918, when Walter L. Jacobs established a small car rental business in Chicago. His operations began with twelve Ford Model Ts and expanded within five years to include a fleet of 600 cars. By that time, Jacob's business was generating annual revenues of approximately $1 million. John Hertz, the head of Yellow Cab and Yellow Truck, bought Jacob's company in 1923. Hertz renamed the company Hertz Drive-Ur-Self System. Three years later General Motors purchased the company.

The company introduced the first car rental charge card in 1926, opened its first airport location at Chicago's Midway Airport in 1932, and initiated the first one-way (rent-it-here/leave-it-there) plan in 1933. The company expanded into Canada in 1938 and Europe in 1950. General Motors sold the business in 1953 to Omnibus Corporation.

In 1954 Omnibus changed its name to the Hertz Corporation and made a stock offering on the New York Stock Exchange. That same year, Hertz bought Metropolitan Distributors, a pioneer in New York truck leasing and the largest truck rental business at the time, with a fleet of 4,000 trucks. The acquisition brought the total Hertz fleet to 15,500 trucks and 12,900 passenger cars.

By 1960 the market for rental cars was rapidly expanding, complementing the expansion of air travel into the consumer market and the rapid growth of the travel industry in general. Despite the influx of new firms into the industry, Hertz retained its number one position throughout the 1960s. In 1961 the company began operations in South America.

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