The Hungarian who painted America’s cabs yellow

Car rental firm Hertz has turned 100 but it is a little-known fact that its founder was Hungarian.

editor: REMIX NEWS

Born Sándor Herz to a Jewish family in Sklabinya, Austro-Hungary (currently Sklabiňa, Slovakia) in 1879, his family emigrated to the United States when he was five. In America he added a T to his family name for easier pronunciation and changed his first name to John. He was an amateur boxer, paperboy, journalist and later car salesman.

John Hertz

John D. Hertz in 1899

His car business had many trade-in vehicles, with which he started a budget cab company running affordable and reliable cars. He founded the Yellow Cab Company in Chicago in 1915, painting his cars bright yellow at a time when almost all cars were black. The distinctive yellow cabs became popular in his home city and were quickly franchised throughout the United States.

In order to ensure a smoother traffic flow for his cabs he proposed the introduction of traffic lights in Chicago and installed them at his own expense. He began a small car rental business in 1918 with a couple of Ford T models. Hertz Corp. now has 37,000 employees worldwide and last year posted a net income of US$327 million.

He died in 1961, at the age of 82.

 


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