At its AutoNation Ford location, High Life Auto Rental's 30-vehicle fleet mainly consists of 2014 Ford Focuses.
Career paths are peculiar things. “I had my sights on doing graphics and web design,” says Cole Randall, co-owner of High Life Auto Rental in Scottsdale, Ariz. “But it is fun to be in the car rental industry.”
Randall first took a job as a car washer for an Avis location in Redmond, Ore., and after moving to Phoenix to get a bachelor’s degree, he held a part-time job at an Avis location in Chandler.
When Randall was unable to find work in his degree field, he took an opportunity in neighboring Gilbert to become an Avis independent operator. The Avis Independent Operator program allows an independent contractor to manage the store, hire employees and market the company, while Avis owns the building and the fleet.
“It wasn’t doing too well; it was located in a Napa Auto Parts store,” he says. ‘They only had 10 vehicles and the location had been open for six months. After eight months, I got that location up to 80 cars.”
Randall left that location for a bigger opportunity, teaming up with fellow independent operator Peter Serena in Scottsdale. The two grew the Scottsdale store to $1.5 million, but were ready to strike out on their own. “After going to the Car Rental Show, we found out that there is all this opportunity,” Randall says.
When an owner of a hotel management company decided to take a chance on Randall and his partners, High Life Auto Rental opened its doors at the Scottsdale Hampton Inn & Suites on June 1, 2009.
With five cars, Randall, Serena and third partner Charles Lee entered the rental market as a truly independent company. Named after living the “high life” in chic Scottsdale, High Life Auto Rental was ready to make its mark.
But even with determination and an entrepreneurial mindset, it hasn’t been easy for High Life to compete in the face of the bigger corporate rental companies. So, how does a new name like High Life not only survive but thrive in the car rental industry?