Enterprise founder Jack Taylor dies at 94

ST. LOUIS – Jack C. Taylor, who started a leasing company with seven cars and built it into Enterprise Rent-A-Car, died Saturday. He was 94.

Enterprise said in a statement Taylor died in St. Louis after a brief illness.

In 1957, Taylor founded Executive Leasing at a Cadillac dealership in St. Louis where he was a salesman. He rented cars to customers whose own vehicles were in the shop.

Eventually the business grew into Enterprise, which differed from competitors by allowing people to pick up and drop off cars away from airports.

Forbes magazine this year estimated Taylor’s wealth at $5.3 billion and put him 248th on its list of the richest people.

Taylor, who joined the U.S. Navy during World War II, renamed his company in 1969 for the USS Enterprise, the aircraft carrier on which he served.

Enterprise bought the Alamo and National brands in 2007 to strengthen its position in airports — Enterprise itself had begun operating at airports in 1995.

The privately held company changed its name to Enterprise Holdings Inc. in 2009. Enterprise says that it had $19.4 billion in revenue and more than 1.7 million vehicles in 2015, making it more than twice the size of each of its two main U.S. competitors, Hertz and Avis.

It also sells cars and trucks and operates worldwide, with more than 90,000 employees in 70 countries. Taylor retired as CEO in 1991 and as the company’s executive chairman in 2013.

“My father took a simple idea and created a great company,” his son, Andrew C. Taylor, the company’s current executive chairman, said in a statement.

The company said that since 1982 Taylor had donated more than $860 million to organizations including Washington University in St. Louis and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

According to the company, Taylor left college in 1942 to join the Navy, becoming a combat pilot in the Pacific. The company said he twice received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

The company said there will be a private funeral service.