Traditional values, professionally refined. The History of Merchants Fleet.
Since our inception in 1962, Merchants Fleet has had one simple goal: To deliver the very best in product and customer service to our clients. While times have changed, our position in developing forward-thinking concepts into actionable results remains constant. We’re proud to have grown from a single automotive dealership in Southern New Hampshire into a nationwide fleet management company, all while maintaining our dedication to flexibility and the promise of “best in class and built to last” service.
Merchants Motors Founded
Irving Singer founded Merchants with the goal of starting a used automotive dealership in Southern New Hampshire. Impressed with the service he received from Merchants Bank, Irving borrowed not only cash but the bank’s name too. In 1962 “Merchants Motors” opened with 50 used cars and a philosophy based on customer service and philanthropy.
National Car Rental Business Launches
To build upon its high levels of customer satisfaction, Merchants proudly opened its first rental car location, which was aligned with the National Car Rental brand. Combined with the success of the auto dealership and service department, Merchants quickly became synonymous with dependability, fairness, and honesty.
Local Leasing Business Opens
From the beginning, Mr. Singer realized he was offering much more than just cars for sale. He was also offering automotive services and rentals, which led Merchants into the local fleet leasing business in 1967. When Irving Singer retired, his sons Stephen, Robert, Alan, Jeffrey, Gary, and son-in-law Michael Sydney took over the business and continued to grow it based on their father’s full-service philosophy.
Hooksett Becomes Flagship Location
With business booming, Mr. Singer sought a new location that could properly support the needs of his customers well into the future. He decided to move the business to a lot in Hooksett, which after numerous renovations and improvements, still serves as the location for the automotive dealership today.
Merchants Rent-A-Car Expands Service Area
Always looking for ways to enhance the customer experience, Merchants Rent-A-Car expanded its operations and opened a satellite location in Salem, New Hampshire. Other locations soon followed, and at its operational peak, the company owned and managed 17 locations throughout New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts.
Merchants Opens Regional Leasing Business
Merchants Leasing continued to grow and succeed, and in 1980 the company began its expansion across the region.
Merchants Rent-A-Car Expands Nationally
Merchants Rent-A-Car moved forward as an independent agency and, in doing so, became the largest non-affiliated rental car company in the United States.
Merchants Celebrates 25 Years
In 1987, Merchants celebrated another milestone - 25 years in business.
Irving Singer Receives Salvation Army’s William Booth Award
In honor of his humanitarian efforts of time, expertise, and financial resources, The Salvation Army awarded Irving Singer with The William Booth Award. It is one of the highest honors that may be conferred upon an individual by The Salvation Army.
Irving Singer Passes Away
To the company’s profound sadness, our founder, Mr. Irving Singer, passed away in 1991. The second generation of the Singer family, led by Irving’s son Stephen Singer, took over leadership of the company. While Irving’s physical presence left, his dedication to the local community and employees, as well as his drive towards excellence in all facets of life, lives on through his family.
Merchants Receives $50M Commitment from First NH Bank
Merchants continued to grow and succeed. In recognition of this success, First NH Bank established a full relationship with the business and facilitated $50,000,000 in financing commitments. The bank also profiled the company’s success story in their First Report, highlighting the company’s commitment to customers and the community.
Merchants Hires First Outside Board of Advisors
In response to the company’s continued growth, Merchants brought in its first outside board of advisors. The board offered extensive expertise as the company transitioned to its current model of being privately-owned and professionally managed.
National Leasing Business Opens
The Merchants commitment to exceptional service in automotive services and rentals continued to drive the company’s growth. Merchants took its leasing business to the next stage by offerings its services across the country.
Singer Family Receives the American Cancer Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award
The Singer family was selected for the organization’s esteemed Lifetime Achievement Award because of their support of the American Cancer Society’s efforts to save lives and for their leadership in local community-based programs and fundraising events.
Gary Singer Wins Salvation Army William Booth Award
The William Booth Award is one of the highest honors that may be conferred upon an individual by The Salvation Army. Gary Singer was selected for this prestigious award for his outstanding humanitarian efforts to the community through donations of time, expertise, and financial resources. It was the first time a father and son both received the award; Irving Singer had also received the award previously.
Robert & Gary Singer Named Co-CEOs
Continuing the tradition of family leadership, brothers Robert and Gary Singer took the helm of Merchants as Co-CEOs in 2001. They held their roles until 2003, and both remain active as part of the Ownership Group today.
Phil Ryan named as Merchants first CEO
By bringing in a CEO, the company furthered its strategic initiative to become privately owned and professionally managed. Phil held the CEO position for 9 years.
Professional Management Team Hired
In 2003, a professional management team was hired to bring additional industry talent to the executive team and to accelerate the organization’s growth.
Merchants Acquires Mirak Leasing
With an eye towards further expansion in the fleet leasing industry, Merchants acquired the vehicles and lease agreements of Mirak Leasing of Arlington, Massachusetts. The transaction boosted the national presence of the company through immediate growth and increased logistical capabilities.
Merchants Launches Short-Term Leasing
Following its long-term corporate growth strategy, Merchants closed its rent-a-car business and shifted its sights to the market for short-term leasing. This transformation allowed the organization to fully support the customized needs of clients by delivering unique fleet solutions created on a flexible scale.
Gary Singer Becomes Chairman & President
In 2005, Gary Singer assumed the position of Chairman & President of the Board. He still serves as Chairman of the Board today, focusing on ensuring Merchants continues to deliver on his father’s philosophy of superior client service and innovative solutions.
Merchants Leasing Acquires One Fleet Source
Merchants purchased the business of One Fleet Source, LLC, (OFS) of Overland Park, Kansas, to strengthen its ability to better serve short-term leasing clients throughout the country. The acquisition of one of the largest and most respected competitors in the rental and short-term leasing business proved ideal in expanding the company’s geographical footprint into the mid-west and western regions of the country.
Robert and Gary Singer Named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® 2011 New England Award Semifinalists
Senior Vice President and Principal Owner, Robert Singer, and Chairman of the Board and Principal Owner, Gary Singer, were named as semi-finalists for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. They were selected from nearly 60 nominations by a panel of independent judges. The program recognizes entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance, and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.
Merchants Leasing Acquires ALD Automotive USA
In a move which reinforced its leading position in the fleet leasing and fleet management industries, Merchants Leasing acquired the North American arm of ALD Automotive, one of the largest fleet providers in Europe. As a result of this transaction, Merchants took ownership of ALD’s U.S. customer base of about 3,300 vehicles.
Gail Singer Memorial Blood Drive Becomes Nation’s Largest
In 2011, the Gail Singer Memorial Blood Drive, which is held every year in memory of Gary Singer’s late wife Gail, reached the milestone of being the nation’s largest Red Cross blood drive. Nearly 2,000 pints of blood were collected from over 2,300 potential donors in a single day. The event now spans two days and continues to be the Singer Family’s signature community service activity.
Glen Villano Becomes CEO
In 2012, Glen Villano was promoted from Chief Operations Officer to CEO. Glen had joined Merchants in 2008 and worked with senior leadership to develop a multi-million dollar enterprise management system to sustain operations. He served as CEO for five years.
Robert Singer Named President
To continue the organization’s excellence and commitment to employees and clients, Merchants proudly selected Robert Singer to fill the role of President, which was vacant after the retirement of Stephen Singer. Throughout his career, Robert’s vision and drive have played a major role in the aggressive and profitable growth of Merchants Fleet, and his contributions have proven successful in broadening the reach of the company.
Merchants Launches Fleet Management Business
As Merchants continued to grow, it quickly became more than simply leasing. Merchants formally launched itself as a fleet management company in 2013, reflecting the full suite of service offerings it could offer its clients in addition to vehicle financing and leasing.
Third Singer Generation Joins Merchants
Michael Singer became the third generation of the Singer family to join the business in 2013. He started as a fleet business analyst and later moved into the role of strategic consultant, where he engaged with clients to find optimal solutions for their fleet needs. He still works at Merchants today.
Merchants Receives 2013 Key Supplier Award from Bechtel Corporation
Merchants was recognized as a Key Supplier by the Bechtel Corporation for its valuable contributions to Bechtel’s power projects. Nominees were chosen by Bechtel’s procurement and contract managers, and winners were chosen by senior leaders. Qualifications for this achievement included overall performance, delivering quality equipment on time, working collaboratively to meet milestones, and meeting or exceeding project expectations of safety, construction performance, technical expertise, and environmental compliance.
Merchants Launches TotalView
In order to deliver unparalleled personalized service in the digital age, Merchants proudly launched TotalView. This analytics-driven fleet management solution became a standard part of the company’s service package and enables fleets to strategically make data-based decisions aligned with their specific operational and business goals.
Merchants Reaches 25,000 Managed Units
In 2014, Merchants reached a significant milestone – 25,000 vehicles under management. It was a marker of the company’s evolution into a significant player in the fleet management industry thanks to its continual focus on innovation, flexibility, and most importantly the client.
Merchants Innovation Center Opens
To accommodate Merchants Fleet’s continued success and rapid growth in its technology offerings, a state-of-the-art Innovation Center was opened in Chicago on June 20, 2014. The new location reinforced the company’s commitment to serving current and prospective clients, expanding upon its technological center of excellence, and attracting and retaining top talent in the fleet management industry.
Merchants Named Best Company to Work For
Merchants was named a 2015 Best Company to Work For Award winner by Business NH Magazine. This distinction recognizes businesses that go out of their way to develop a respectful, creative, and supportive corporate culture that supports a highly engaged workplace.
The company is proud to have received this distinguished award in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.
Merchants Acquires Alamo Leasing
Merchants Fleet acquired Texas-based Alamo Leasing, the latest in a series of partnerships and acquisitions aimed at bolstering the company’s strategic plan for controlled growth. The move further advanced the expansive growth strategy of the organization and firmly entrenched Merchants among the nation’s top 10 fleet management companies.
Merchants Fleet Is Great Place to Work Certified
Merchants Fleet reached another company culture milestone in 2016, when it achieved Great Place to Work certification for the first time. Great Place to Work certification uses validated employee feedback and data-driven methodology to confirm that at least 7 out of 10 employees have a consistently positive experience at their company. Merchants has achieved this certification in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Merchants Assembles Client Advisory Board
In 2016, Merchants launched its Client Advisory Board in order to deepen relationships with clients, better understand client pain points, and solicit ideas and feedback. The CAB has proven to be an invaluable resource to the company, and it continues to be a source of insight and inspiration into how to continually meet fleet professionals’ evolving needs.
Merchants Wins “Cool Company for Young Professionals”
Merchants won the “Cool Company for Young Professionals” award at the 2017 Rising Stars Awards. The organization Stay, Work, Play developed this award to honor companies in New Hampshire that create environments to attract, develop, and retain young workers.
Brendan P. Keegan Named CEO
Merchants Fleet is committed to seeking dynamic leaders that embody the Merchants Fleet spirit. In 2017, the organization hired Brendan P. Keegan as its Chief Executive Officer. As an award-winning executive, Keegan’s understanding of fleet management and the company’s mission position him and Merchants Fleet for remarkable success and growth in the years ahead.
Merchants Eclipses 50,000 Managed Units
Building upon an expansive growth strategy and incorporating key corporate initiatives, Merchants surpassed the 50,000 managed units milestone. In the 5 years leading up to this milestone, the company expanded its portfolio by 46%, bringing it another step closer to achieving its goal of doubling the size of the company by 2023.
Merchants Named Best and Brightest Company to Work For®
In the winter of 2018, Merchants was recognized again for its outstanding culture and was ranked among the country's Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®. The award recognizes companies that excel at employee relations, use innovation to motivate employees, implement creative compensation programs, and more. Six months later, Merchants was highlighted again when it received an award for Chicago's Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®.
Merchants Launches FleetTech Business
Forces like connectivity, intelligence, multi-modal transportation, and efficiency are continually impacting how people and businesses move goods and services. In light of these industry changes, Merchants repositioned itself as a FleetTech business in 2019. The company shortened its name from Merchants Fleet Management to Merchants Fleet, adopted a new logo, and launched a new website to reflect its focus on connecting clients with the technology, fleet services, and specialized teams required to meet their evolving transportation needs.
Merchants Recognized for Excellence in Digital Innovation
The Merchants technology team was recognized at the Hitachi Solutions Customer Conference with an award for Excellence in Digital Innovation. “Merchants Fleet is one of the best examples of a company that is taking real action to lead with digital thinking as they build their product road map. They are always stretching themselves to think innovation in every new strategy they develop,” said Jessica Hawk, COO of Capax Global, a Hitachi Group Company.
Merchants Fleet Made Inc. Magazine’s Annual Inc. 5000
In August 2020, Merchants Fleet made Inc. magazine’s annual Inc. 5000 list, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment—its independent small businesses. Intuit, Zappos, Under Armour, Microsoft, Patagonia, and many other well-known names gained their first national exposure as honorees on the Inc. 5000.
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