Expansion of services fueled the growth of PHH From fleet management to mortgage banking

November 12, 1996|By Sean Somerville | Sean Somerville,SUN STAFF

PHH Corp., founded in Baltimore 50 years ago by Duane L. Peterson, Richard M. Heather and Harley W. Howell, grew from a small partnership that managed company cars into one of the world's leading companies in automobile fleet management, corporate relocations and mortgage banking.

The founders worked in a partnership until 1954, when they formed the corporation of Peterson, Howell & Heather Inc., then called PH&H. During the 1950s, the company formed divisions in Canada and the United Kingdom. In 1958, the founders sold 24 percent of their stock in an initial public offering.

One of PH&H's key moments came in 1967, when its board of directors adopted a plan to expand into several areas aimed at capturing corporate business. Later, PH&H bought National Truck Service of Fort Worth, Texas, a fuel management company, and Homequity Inc., a personnel relocation management company in Wilton, Conn.

The company got another name change in 1978, when shareholders voted to make it PHH Group Inc. In the same year, the company's stock became listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

PHH's worldwide expansion continued through the late 1970s and early 1980s, as it opened Homequity offices in the United Kingdom and acquired AllStar Petrol Card Ltd. of England.

During the mid-1980s, PHH expanded its businesses by buying Transamerica Relocation Service and Avis' small fleet management and leasing operation. In 1984, PHH acquired U.S. Mortgage Corp., and took its first step toward becoming the nation's 12th largest mortgage lender.

PHH also bought companies in the 1980s that it has since sold, including an aviation management company and Fantus Co., which specialized in corporate site selection. The company became PHH Corp. in 1988.

Throughout the early 1990s, PHH increased its relocation holdings while its mortgage service portfolio grew, topping $16.6 billion in 1994.

PHH now provides a variety of services to more than 2,000 companies worldwide. Besides arranging for the fueling, maintenance and disposal of 312,000 company-owned cars and trucks, PHH is the nation's biggest provider of relocation services to corporations. It manages the moves of about 50,000 transferred executives annually.

Pub Date: 11/12/96

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