Sallie Creel - A Car Rental Hall-of-Famer

If all of the women who have been inducted into the Birmingham (Alabama) Business Hall of Fame for the past six years came into Sallie Creel’s Thrifty location to rent a car, they would be able to rent a two-seater. That’s because Creel can count herself as one of only two women who have received this honor, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, since 1997. The 30 men who have also received the honor would need at least a couple vans.

One thing is certain, though — each of these business leaders would readily turn to Creel for any of their auto rental needs. That’s because Creel’s formula for success includes a generous helping of community involvement and activism. Serving on countless boards and committees, she readily acknowledges that giving to the community has more than doubled the returns.

It hasn’t always been an easy road for Creel, though. In 1972, after working in sales for both Budget and Thrifty, she decided it was time to strike out on her own. But it was Birmingham, Ala., in 1972. Women just didn’t do things like this at that time. Nevertheless, Creel pressed on. After receiving countless rounds of loan rejections from banks, she finally convinced GMAC to advance her enough money for a modest fleet of 20 cars.

Creel traveled down to a local auto dealer and placed her order for 20 Monte Carlos. Then she found the perfect location — the front end of a service station just half a mile from the airport — and started booking reservations. But the cars never arrived. It turns out that the dealer, like so many others before him, failed to take Creel seriously. When the cars arrived on his lot, he sold them at retail.

Faced with customers due to arrive on an empty lot, Creel hastily concocted a temporary fleet. “I had to do something to keep the doors open. I even rented out my mother’s car,” she recalls.

Her tenacity paid off, and in the first year of business Creel grew the fleet to 80 cars.

CONTINUED:  Sallie Creel - A Car Rental Hall-of-Famer
« Previous  |  1  2  3  4  5  |  Next »

Comment On This Story

Comment: (Max. 10000 characters)  
Please leave blank:
* Please note that every comment is moderated.

Newsletter: Sign up to receive latest news, articles, and much more.

Read the latest

Auto Focus Blog: A blog covering fleets, auto rental and the business of cars

Why Do We Visit Capitol Hill?

Members of the American Car Rental Association met with U.S. senators, representatives, and their aides last week. Here’s why bringing the message to this forum matters.

The Customer Isn’t Always Right

Not caving to a customer with a blatant agenda may have consequences, especially for a small rental company that relies on stellar Yelp ratings to advertise. But business integrity must prevail.

The Truth Behind Compact Van Depreciation

Why are large van values holding up better than their compact counterparts, and will it last?

Job Finder: Access Top Talent. Fill Key Positions.