Thursday, April 26, 2007

Die Harder?

Post War business giant passes away:

Warren Avis, who died on Tuesday aged 91, was the founder of the pioneering airport car rental chain that still bears his name.

A decorated bomber pilot during the Second World War, Avis was frustrated at the lack of ground transport available at American airports: in order to rent a car, the arriving passenger invariably had to take a taxi to a downtown garage. So he started his own car rental business in 1946....

In 1953 Avis Rent A Car began to expand internationally, with franchises in Europe, Canada and Mexico. The following year, however, Warren Avis himself sold out for $8 million, a considerable fortune at the time. Facing fierce competition from the market leader, Hertz, the Avis business went through a long period of financial difficulties, eventually recovering - under its famous slogan "We're only No 2. We Try Harder" - to become one of the world's best-known brands, with more than 4,000 outlets in 160 countries.

....Avis kept homes in Manhattan and Acapulco - where he waterskied until he was 89 - and moved in glamorous circles which included the likes of Sammy Davis Jr and Playboy's founder Hugh Hefner. "If you don't enjoy the money, then the money doesn't have any value," he once told an interviewer.

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