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Thrifty’s bouncing high after hitting bottom

BY JENNIFER PALMER Published: November 15, 2009
TULSA — A roller coaster doesn’t even begin to describe the ride Tulsa-based Dollar Thrifty has been on this year.

The car rental company pulled itself from the brink of bankruptcy and a low of 60 cents per share on March 3 to trading at more than $25 a share — and a recent high of $27.50.

Dollar Thrifty ranked third on this year’s Oklahoma Inc. list of best performing state companies.

With the stock up 2,000 percent, Dollar Thrifty employees have their "swagger” back, said Scott Thompson, who took the reins as chief executive officer a year ago.

"There have been quite a few lows, quite a few highs, but it has really been quite a rewarding year,” Thompson said from the company’s executive offices in Tulsa.

The low came during one of the worst periods in the U.S. economy, when leisure and business travel suffered. And the high, well, the company still is riding that wave.

Thompson said there were some tough decisions along the way, including a price increase for car rentals and significant personnel reductions — about 6 percent of the company’s overall workforce.

Dollar Thrifty restructured it debt and paid back more than $900 million.

The company renegotiated an agreement with Chrysler Motors, its former parent company, to reduce its fleet purchases to 30 percent, from 75 percent. Dollar Thrifty now boasts a more diversified fleet, intended to protect it from the various risk associated with concentrating on one supplier.

Just one year into a projected three-year turnaround, Thompson said he is pleased with how far the company has come.

Thompson started at Dollar Thrifty as chief financial offer and assumed his role as CEO Oct.


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