Robert C. Townsend; Former Avis President
Robert C. Townsend, 77, former Avis president and author of the bestseller “Up the Organization.” As head of Avis Rent-a-Car from 1962 until ITT Corp. acquired it in 1965, Townsend took the company from one that lost $3 million a year to one that made $2.8 million in profit. He launched the firm’s “We Try Harder” advertising campaign challenging front-running competitor Hertz, and that slogan remains in use today. Townsend published his book “Up the Organization: How to Stop the Corporations from Stifling People and Strangling Profits” in 1970 and an updated reissue, “Further Up the Organization,” in 1984. Born in Washington state and educated at Princeton University, Townsend was a Navy officer during World War II. He also worked or consulted for American Express Co., Dun & Bradstreet, 20th Century Fox and Psychology Today. He had lived in Los Angeles but died while on vacation. On Monday of a heart attack on the Caribbean island of Anguilla.