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Hertz hopes dreams come true in Estero

May 10, 2013
Employees of the global headquarters of the Hertz Corp. in Park Ridge, N.J., prepare to head home after a day of work Thursday. The company announced Tuesday that it is relocating its headquarters to Estero, much to the surprise of many employees. / Andrew West/

Hertz to help employees

In the three days since the move announcement, Hertz has formed a team to:
• Aid employees in checking out Southwest Florida real estate and schools.
• Help employee spouses find jobs in Southwest Florida.
• Provide the means for employees to come to check out the area themselves.
• Created an employee FAQ website.
• Offered individual packages of relocation benefits or severance packages.


More coverage of Hertz moving headquarters to Lee County

PARK RIDGE, N.J. — The house that Hertz built put the park in the term “corporate park.”

It’s carved out of woods in Park Ridge, N.J., a well-to-do residential community with stately colonial homes, gently rolling hills and lush greenery. The North American headquarters of Sony and Mercedes-Benz lie nearby.

Behind the swooping curve of a gleaming glass exterior the $10 billion, 95-year-old company is re-inventing its destiny and asking 700 employees to come along for the ride.

That destiny lies in Southwest Florida, where the company will build a $68 million world headquarters in Estero. The change on the outside will reflect the change on the inside, a commitment to a new corporate philosophy predicated on giving customers what they want and giving it to them fast.

The News-Press visited the current company headquarters in Park Ridge, N.J., Thursday where company executives gave a brief tour and an in-depth explanation of how and why they want to rebrand themselves as a company.

It’s unknown how many employees will take the offer and buy into the rebranding and the move it requires. They’ve barely had time to digest it since the move was announced to them in a Tuesday Webcast by Hertz CEO Mark P. Frissora, about the same time the move was being announced by Frissora and Gov. Rick Scott at the Hertz rental counter at Southwest Florida International Airport.

Thursday, Frissora appeared before them in person to answer questions.

The reaction among employees has been surprise, even shock, with cheers and tears, said Rich Broome, Hertz executive vice-president, corporate affairs and communications. “In all instances people were 100 percent professional,” he said.

Outside in the parking lot, a female employee who declined to give her name said she was looking forward to the move.

Inside the 236,000-square-foot headquarters are floors of marble, and a futuristic-looking design featuring stainless steel and glass. But the building is already 25 years old. The new one in Southwest Florida will have the same elements and amenities but taken to the next level for 2013, Broome said.

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The 300,000-square-foot Estero headquarters will be completed by late 2014 or early 2015, he said. Like the current building, it will have a cafeteria with wide-screen TVs and the look and feel of a hotel lounge, a state-of-the-art fitness center with free weights, strength-training, cardio machines and a lunchtime aerobics program. But the focus will be on sustainability and being green.

The architect has been chosen, Gensler global architecture, design, planning and consulting firm of New York City, but the design hasn’t begun, Broome said.

The guide in all this is NorthStar, Broome said. That’s the name of Hertz’s $100 million rebranding. “The North Star is a guiding light. It’s what’s guiding us in the future.”

He and David Trimm, Hertz senior vice president for business transformation projects, use terms like “speed-ease,” and “high tech, high touch,” to describe a business model that focuses on customer service and uses the latest in technology but makes sure to include the human touch.

Above all, the company wants to offer the most diverse fleet of vehicles — from electric-powered cars to Lamborghinis — and do whatever it takes to eliminate the wait for you to drive it.

“We want everything about it to say, ‘This doesn’t take long,’” Trimm said.

In the current headquarters, a commercial was being filmed Thursday at a mock-up set that included desks instead of high counters separating customer from agent, a more cleanly designed logo that includes a forward-moving yellow streamline instead of a static yellow background, and bright, contemporary designs.

Rental locations will look like regular retail locations, where you can pick up a snack for travel, and Fed-ex or fax documents, Trimm said. They will also include do-it-yourself kiosks where people can swipe their credit cards and licenses and print out rental documents, all the while talking to an agent via a Skype-type screen.

It’s all based on rigorous, methodical customer research, he said. The goal is to get the most high-volume of Hertz’s 8,700 locations done in the next two years.

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