Joe Knight, car rental industry veteran and former president of the American Car Rental Association (ACRA), died on Nov. 26 in Fontana, California after a long illness. He was 77.
Knight served as vice-president of airport concessions and properties at Fox Rent a Car for 22 years. He was involved in the planning and development of all U.S. Fox locations in operation.
Knight began his career in car rental at age 19. Prior to Fox, Knight worked for the Budget, Dollar, and Thrifty brands in various executive positions. He also owned and operated his own consulting company, Car Rental Concepts, which provided fleet and financing programs to independent car rental operators and licensees.
Earlier this year, Knight joined Easirent as a business development consultant.
Knight served as president of ACRA from 2014 to 2017 and was a board member from 2005 to 2022.
Knight was a tireless advocate for smaller rental companies. Upon taking the position with Easirent, he said: “In my experience working with ACRA, I learned that while the big guys certainly have been able to build an industry, the independents and licensees carry the spirit of that success through their continued and dynamic growth of the off-airport operator.”
Knight was born Joseph Holland Knight in Knoxville, Tenn. on Aug. 5,1946 to Joseph Henry Knight and Yvonne Holland Knight.
The family moved to West Covina, California in 1959. At Edgewood High School, Knight was elected class president all four years. He also played varsity basketball and served as yearbook editor. After graduation, he attended Mount San Antonio College and Cal Poly, Pomona, majoring in liberal arts.
Knight maintained his Southern roots and would travel back to Nashville often to visit friends and the Grand Ole Opry.
Music was one of his passions. He managed various bands during the 1980s and 1990s and remained close to his musicians. He also collected Western and Native American art.
Remembering Joe Knight
“Joe was one of the most generous people I have ever known. He helped countless individuals who found themselves in need and would follow up to make sure they were okay,” said Al Lozano of Easirent and a close friend of Knight. “He was always cool under pressure and approached life with a ready sense of humor. He is going to be missed by many.”
“Joe will always be a legend in car rental — kind, hardworking, and a delight to hang out with,” said Sharky Laguana, current president of ACRA and CEO and founder of Bandago Van Rental. “When I was new to the industry, he was very generous with his time, explaining stuff to a small business newbie like I was one of the big shots.
“During his five-year term as ACRA president, I looked up to him, and appreciated everything he did to keep ACRA growing and moving forward,” Laguana added. “When I joined the ACRA board, he was a font of wisdom, and a mentor for me personally. But what I loved most about Joe was his sense of humor. He knew how to tell a joke, and had hilarious stories about running bars, hanging out with rock bands, and the Wild West era in the car rental industry in the 70s and 80s. We'll miss you Joe, thank you for all you've done for us. May your memory be a blessing.”
“Having shared the journey of the past two decades with Joe side by side, it is difficult to express how much Joe will be missed,” said Allen Rezapour, cofounder of Fox.
“Joe earned the endearing title of the ‘Walking Encyclopedia of Car Rental.’ His knowledge was not just extensive; it was unparalleled, and his passion for his work was contagious. The void left by his absence is not only a personal loss but also a significant one for the entire car rental community. Joe, we will miss you dearly.”
“Joe Knight’s many years of service to the industry and to ACRA were truly appreciated and his personal guidance, that he shared with me, will be sorely missed,” said Sharon Faulkner, executive director of ACRA. “Joe embodied the heart and soul of ACRA by being involved and supportive,” Faulkner said. “He proved that together the car rental industry can and does make a difference. He was a legend who left a legacy for all to admire and emulate.”
An association can only be as strong as its underlying members,” said ACRA’s past president, Bob Barton. “Uniformity and cooperation can be a very powerful influence on those who hear our cause. ACRA’s creed of acting as the voice of the American car rental industry can only be accomplished with your continuing membership and economic support. Together, we can make a difference.”
Knight is survived by Darla, his wife of 45 years, his son Alan, daughter-in-law Melanie, and his grandson, Austin. His brother Randy is deceased. The family has started a Go Fund Me page to raise funds for Knight’s services.