Michael DeLorenzo received the inaugural Auto Rental News Impact Award for outstanding service to the auto rental industry.
DeLorenzo serves as the executive vice president of International Franchise Systems (IFS), which owns the NextCar, Priceless, and Rent-A-Wreck brands. He is also a member of the American Car Rental Association’s (ACRA) Board of Directors.
“We have had an award of this high distinction going back to the days of the old ACRA meetings, before our present International Car Rental Show,” said Chris Brown, executive editor of Auto Rental News. “We changed its name to define by the impact of the honoree’s good works.
The award was presented at Wednesday’s closing general session at the 2017 International Car Rental Show at Bally’s Las Vegas.
“Thanks for recognizing me,” said DeLorenzo upon accepting the award. “I have been doing this for a long time. When a management team came into my office to review my operations, their final assessment of me and my organization was that I surround myself with honest people.”
DeLorenzo started his career by renting cars out of the family gas station in Laurel, Md. He began the business with a fleet of 10 vehicles. The constant action of the car rental business, the customers, and the cars themselves sparked something in him.
After several years of operating a Budget Rent A Car franchise, DeLorenzo started to expand his operation — he grew to four locations and a fleet of over 250 cars by the mid-1980s. In 1985, DeLorenzo sold his Budget franchises to car dealer Jack Fitzgerald. He was hired by Fitzgerald to lead the dealership’s expanded loaner and retail car rental division. Over the next 20 years, Fitzgerald’s car rental business grew to 20 Budget locations operating 3,000 vehicles.
In 2003, DeLorenzo led a movement within the Fitzgerald operation to divest the Budget brand and start building an independent brand called NextCar. By 2007, DeLorenzo completed the transition of Fitzgerald car rental locations to the NextCar brand. Currently, NextCar operates 15 locations in the mid-Atlantic region.
In 2006, Fitzgerald acquired Rent-A-Wreck of America and Priceless Car & Truck Rental. DeLorenzo was put in charge of leading the Rent-A-Wreck and Priceless brands, which currently have over 150 franchise locations. In 2010, Rent-A-Wreck opened its first company-owned and operated location under DeLorenzo’s supervision. This location has served as a training facility for new and existing franchisees.
DeLorenzo oversaw the launch of International Franchise Systems in 2015, a company that unifies the offering of the NextCar, Rent-A-Wreck, and Priceless brands. In 2016, Franchise Business Review named Rent-A-Wreck as one of the 50 Best Franchises for franchise satisfaction.
“I think Mike is an outstanding selection for the Impact Award,” said Jason Manelli, vice president of marketing for IFS. “Since coming to work for Mike in 2006, I’ve come to know him as a high energy, vocal leader with an infectious can-do attitude and entrepreneurial spirit that inspires and motivates those around him. A big-picture thinker that always has his eyes on the future and what is coming next, Mike has provided leadership to the people in our company, both employees and franchisees, while also working tirelessly on behalf of the industry in the halls of Congress and in his efforts with ACRA.”
Jon Dill, contact center director at IFS, presented DeLorenzo with the award.
“Mike has been a trailblazer in this industry since the summer of 1969,” said Dill. “I first met him when I was in college. I interviewed him for a business project that I was assigned. I asked him, ‘why did you get into car rental?’ He said that he could help more customers renting cars than by turning wrenches.”
“He really impacted me when I wanted to quit,” Dill continued. “Mike asked me to help him sell our service to other businesses. When the car rental industry was consolidating, he said, ‘I don’t know how it’s going to work, but I want to do it anyway.’”
“Mike is really passionate about our business and isn’t afraid to move into the unknown,” added Dill. “He believes in educating the customer so they can make the best decision. He also believes in educating our legislators to help grow our industry. He has impacted me in my career, and I’m sure that he will continue to impact all of you through his passion for our industry.”