News Column

Hertz Moving Headquarters, Jobs to Florida

May 9, 2013

Kyle Arnold

The corporate headquarters of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group as well as 120 jobs will move to Florida as part of the company's merger with rival Hertz.

Hertz Global Holdings Inc. announced Tuesday that it is moving its corporate headquarters to Estero, Fla., and building a 300,000-square-foot campus that will be home to the combined Dollar Thrifty and Hertz franchises.

Tulsa-based Dollar Thrifty will merge its headquarters with Hertz at the new location and as many as 120 Tulsa jobs will be eliminated or moved to Florida.

Hertz purchased Dollar Thrifty in November in a $2.3 billion deal, and at the time Hertz executives told employees that Tulsa operations would continue to play a crucial role for the company.

Dollar Thrifty employs 720 people in Tulsa, about 60 fewer than at the time of the merger. After the move the company will have about 600 jobs here.

Rich Broome, a spokesman for Hertz, said most of the affected jobs are executive level and will move at the end of 2014 or in early 2015 when the company finishes construction in Florida.

"We remain committed to having a presence in Tulsa," Broome said.

Hertz is currently based in Park Ridge, N.J., and the company says it plans to leave about 2,000 employees there.

Hertz also employs 1,700 people at its regional operations facilities in Oklahoma City. Those operations will be affected by the move, but specifics are uncertain.

"Additionally, in no way should this decision be perceived as a slight to our partners in New Jersey and Oklahoma," CEO and Chairman Mark P. Frissora said in a statement.

Dollar Thrifty has been based in Tulsa since 1994, when it was owned by Chrylser Corp. Its two brands, Dollar Rent A Car and Thrifty Car Rental, created the country's fourth largest car rental company.

Hertz employs 24,000 people companywide compared with Dollar Thrifty's 6,000 employees.

Broome said the headquarters move was the result of trying to find the best possible location for officials of both companies.

"We wanted to find one place we could blend all our employees that would be acceptable to everyone," he said.

"The people in Oklahoma weren't too interested in New Jersey, and for our New Jersey folks, Oklahoma wasn't something they'd be interested in," he said. "We had to thread the needle and find something that would be good for both sets of employees."

Employees will be given a relocation package if they chose to move to Florida, Broome said.

The specific number of jobs that will be eliminated versus being moved to Florida has not been determined, he said. The job cuts are due to redundancies created by Hertz' buyout of its rival.

Hertz said it will save as much as $160 million as year through the merger.

Car rental industry analyst Nima Samadi said he was surprised by the announcement, particularly the plans to move the Hertz headquarters from a business capital such as the New York metro area to the Florida Gulf Coast.

"From the perspective of a talent base, it might be able to find people in Florida with complimentary travel experience," said Samadi of IBISWorld Inc.

Hertz is getting about $19 million from Lee County, the state of Florida and the Florida Power & Light Co. to build the facility.

A news release issued by Hertz on Tuesday noted that Oklahoma will be the primary home for the company's IT, financial and customer service operations, and they should grow over time.

All told, up to 700 jobs will shift to Estero over a two-year period, Hertz said.

Frissora, the chairman and CEO, said in the news release that the move stems from Florida's diverse community appeal, work force availability, and accessibility, as well as its strong connections to tourism.

"Florida is the center of the U.S. travel and tourism industry -- this move enables us to be closer to leisure and business customers, as well as many travel and association partners," he said.

New Hertz headquarters

Location: Estero, Fla., near Fort Myers on the Gulf Coast in the state's southwestern region

Moving incentive: $19 million

Employees at new headquarters: 1,700

Employees leaving Tulsa: 120

Employees remaining in Tulsa: 600

Source: Hertz Global Holdings Inc.

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