Self-made billionaire Roger Penske got his start opening a car dealership in 1965, with a $75,000 loan from his father. Four years later he purchased a car and light-truck rental and leasing business serving eastern Pennsylvania, with just three locations.
That company is now Penske Corp. in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., a global company that manages retail automotive, truck leasing, executive bus rentals, transportation logistics and professional motorsports businesses with consolidated revenues in excess of $26 billion, operating in more than 3,600 locations and employing more than 57,000 people worldwide.
Penske Automotive Group Inc. operates automotive and commercial truck dealerships principally in the U.S., Canada and western Europe, and distributes commercial vehicles, diesel engines, gas engines, power systems and related parts and services principally in Australia and New Zealand.
Penske Truck Leasing, a partnership of Penske Corp., Penske Automotive Group and Mitsui & Co. Ltd., operates and maintains more than 266,000 vehicles and serves customers from more than 3,400 locations in North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Product lines include full-service truck leasing, contract maintenance, commercial and consumer truck rentals, used truck sales, transportation and warehousing management, Mobility Vans For Sale and supply chain management solutions.
And the third leg that Penske oversees: Penske Performance Inc., the operations arm for racing teams currently competing in the Verizon IndyCar Series, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship under the “Team Penske” banner. The team also races in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, in a partnership with Dick Johnson Racing, as DJR Team Penske.
Team Penske is one of the most successful teams in the history of professional sports. Competing in a variety of disciplines, cars owned and prepared by Team Penske have produced 475 major race wins, 543 pole positions and 32 championships. In its 52-year history, the team has also earned 16 Indianapolis 500 victories, two Daytona 500 Championships, a Formula 1 win and overall victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Chairman and CEO Penske tells Motor Trend that the most essential piece of the corporation’s various enterprises is human capital.
“Look at the people who work for us, most come up through the organization,” Penske says. “Our culture gets instilled early on. We stretch people. No one is ever ready, but nobody fails.”
He’s No. 140 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the top 1,000 public/private companies.
Roger Penske, CEO, Penkse Corp.
Headquarters: Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Undergraduate degree: Lehigh University (did not graduate)
Started company: 1965; started Penske Racing in 1966.
Miscellaneous: Chairman, 2006 Detroit Super Bowl Committee; inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1998, inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2015.