The Truck Renting and Leasing Association (TRALA) announced the passing of its founding Chairman, Harris Saunders Jr., who passed away on May 6. He was 93 years old.
Over nearly a forty year span, Saunders Jr. worked to build Saunders Leasing System into the third-largest truck-leasing and truck services company in the United States. He was the chairman of the board when the company, publicly traded on the American Stock Exchange, was sold to Ryder System, Inc. in 1986. The Saunders Leasing System is credited with giving birth to the car and truck rental and leasing industry in 1916.
Saunders served on the board of SouthTrust Bank and Energen Corporation. He was also the past chairman of the American Truck Historical Association, chairman of the United States Business and Industrial Council and served on the Birmingham Salvation Army Board. He was a past member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and the World Business Council. He was inducted into the Georgia Tech Engineering Hall of Fame in October 1997 and also received the 1998 Woodruff School Distinguished Alumnus Award.
When TRALA was formed in 1978, it had previously been part of CATRALA, which represented both trucks and automobiles. Saunders was one of the leading voices in deciding to break away and form a separate association dedicated solely to truck renting and leasing. He was chosen by his peers including Steve Lawrence and Larry Miller to become the first Chairman of TRALA from 1978 to 1979.