Hard work + integrity = a successful career
Success stories are the things about which I very much enjoy writing. One such story, while not of an Edmonds man, is of Tom Huling, my dear friend of a few decades.
Tom started out with a few bucks behind him as his father Dale and his uncle Deryl had started Huling Brothers Buick in West Seattle many years ago.
Tom and his brother Steve were involved in that venture from the time they were just kids. Their father didn't pay them for being Hulings… he paid them for their work, which in the early days included everything from washing cars on the ready line to cleaning toilets in the dealership.
After their father's untimely passing, brother Steve went on to manage the expanded dealership to include Chrysler, GMC, Chevrolet, Jeep and several others, a business in which Tom was a partner.
At a comparatively early age, Tom (along with his invested brother) took over a small local car rental company, started by their father, called Huling Rent A Car. As time went along and business continued to improve, they became part of the rapidly growing, International Thrifty Car Rental organization.
As the managing partner, Tom – due to his integrity and special relationship with his employees (he saw them as part of the Thrifty family, due to their attractive uniforms; they were called the Blue Crew) – brought his fledgling company to national prominence during his 33 years at the helm.
He may have had the advantage of starting with the financial capability, but before he sold to the home company 33 years later (I think they drooled over the possibility that they might fall heir to Tom and Steve's brilliant stewardship of their Seattle/Portland operations), he had achieved a remarkable peak of success.
I admired Tom for several decades, first as a competitor and later working with him as part of the Blue Crew.
Those were the hay days in the highly competitive car rental business. It wasn't that we didn't have sleepless nights fretting over cars that did not return as agreed and couldn't be found… or to come to work in the morning to find one or more cars that had been towed in the night before as totals. Tom and I both went through that for lo those many years.
The company for which I was GM was seen as a highly successful operation, as was Tom's Thrifty.
Let's hear it for the success of Tom and his Blue Crew. All of them were imbued with Tom's spirit of honor and integrity. I salute Tom and my many friends who comprised the Blue Crew.