Advantage Rent a Car
|Headquarters||Orlando, FL, USA|
|Parent||Catalyst Capital Group Inc|
Advantage Rent a Car is a car rental company headquartered in Orlando, Florida. The brand was acquired in early 2014 by Catalyst Capital Group Inc. Advantage operates from 40 locations servicing airports and five additional satellite locations in hotels in Hawaii and Las Vegas and has a fleet of approximately 23,000 cars, ranging from economy cars to SUVs. Advantage primarily services the leisure segment of the rental car market and predominantly operates in key domestic leisure destinations, including California, Florida, Texas, Colorado, Hawaii and Arizona (as of July 2013).
On August 26, 2012, Hertz announced that it agreed to sell the US Advantage business to Franchise Services of North America and Macquarie Capital, as a divestiture to receive regulatory approval of Hertz's acquisition of Dollar Thrifty, announced at the same time, and to convert foreign Advantage locations to the Thrifty brand. On December 12, 2012, Advantage Rent A Car was acquired by a subsidiary of Macquarie Capital which will be merged with Franchise Services of North America, Inc. (TSXV:FSN) immediately after a shareholders vote scheduled for 1Q13. The merger received final TSX regulatory and shareholder approval on May 3, 2013.
In 1963, a small business owned by Kenneth and Helen Walker called “$3.99 Car Rentals” opened its doors to serve the large military population in San Antonio, Texas. Founded with a fleet of five cars and initially serving the government traveler, it expanded very quickly over the next 20 years into feeder and leisure markets including local retail and airport markets located throughout the Western United States. During the 1960s and 70s, the company grew through the acquisition of several different franchises. The operation was later consolidated in 1984 under the name "Advantage Rent a Car." As the 1990s progressed, expansion of the Advantage brand continued throughout the U.S. into the Sunbelt states and major leisure airport markets. In 2001, Advantage attained worldwide presence by launching an affiliate partnership program that grew to an international network serving more than 33 countries. In 2006, following the death of Kenneth Walker, the Walker heirs sold the business to Venture Holding Inc.
Bankruptcy and acquisition by Hertz
In December 2008, Advantage filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and closed about 40% of its U.S. retail locations, citing "a simultaneous drop in leisure travel, with greatly increased costs, and frozen credit markets" (presumably an effect of the 2008-09 global economic crisis). 440 workers, or almost half its workforce, were laid off at the time. Advantage was at that point privately held by disgraced Minnesota auto dealership mogul Denny Hecker (who is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence).
On March 31, 2009, the assets of Advantage were purchased by The Hertz Corporation for $33 million, which outbid Enterprise Rent-a-Car in Minnesota bankruptcy court. The purchase included the Advantage logo and website. Hertz stated its intentions after Enterprise had announced it would acquire the assets. The Advantage website was modified to match (or closely mirror) some design and operational aspects of the Hertz website. By fall 2009, Hertz had rebranded its "Simply Wheelz" economy sub-brand with the acquired Advantage trademark properties, and had largely withdrawn the service.
Hertz described its plans to use Advantage for "... further expansion into the price-oriented travel demographic", "... providing Hertz a second brand to sell to corporate accounts and to market with key travel partners" and "... extending the useful life of vehicles in Hertz's rental fleet for Advantage's fleet needs".
On November 5, 2013, Advantage Rent A Car announced to file bankruptcy. As of October 25, 2013 "Simply Wheelz" sold 5,295 vehicles through auctions with an average loss of about $1,633 per vehicle, which resulted in a total loss of about $8.6 million.
On August 26, 2012, Hertz announced that it agreed to sell the US Advantage business to Franchise Services of North America and Macquarie Capital, as a divestiture to receive regulatory approval of Hertz's acquisition of Dollar Thrifty, announced at the same time, and to convert foreign Advantage branded locations to a new Firefly Car Rental brand. On December 12, 2012, Advantage Rent A Car was acquired by a subsidiary of Macquarie Capital which will be merged with Franchise Services of North America, Inc. (TSXV:FSN) immediately after a shareholders vote scheduled for 1Q13. The merger received final TSX regulatory and shareholder approval on May 3, 2013.
- "Franchise Services of North America Inc. Announces Appointment of William Plamondon as President of Advantage Rent A Car" (PDF). FRANCHISE SERVICES OF NORTH AMERICA INC. May 3, 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
- "Dollar Thrifty Merger". Retrieved 29 April 2014.
- "FRANCHISE SERVICES OF NORTH AMERICA INC" (PDF). FRANCHISE SERVICES OF NORTH AMERICA INC. May 3, 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
- "Advantage RAC Founder Kenneth Walker Dies at 81". Auto Rental News. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
- "Advantage Rent-A-Car files for bankruptcy". USA TODAY. 2008-12-08. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
- DePass, Dee (29 January 2016). "Denny Hecker moved from Colo. to Ill. for his 9th prison in 5 years". Star Tribune. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
... Hecker was sentenced to 10 years in prison in March 2011 ...
- "Hertz Completes Acquisition of Advantage Rent A Car". Reuters. Apr 9, 2009. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
- Volkmann, Kelsey. "Enterprise Rent-A-Car outbid for Advantage assets". American City Business Journals. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
- "Car rental company Advantage to be placed under Chapter 11". Reuters. Nov 5, 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2014.