Fresh out of college, Brett Bittel landed a job manning the counter at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. It was the late 1970s, before Enterprise had grown into one of the largest private companies in America, and years before Business Week magazine would name Enterprise among the top 10 places to begin a career because of opportunities it afforded employees to advance within the company.
“It was a family-owned startup,” remembers Bittel.
In the years that followed, as Enterprise grew its fleet from 10,000 to 1.2 million cars, Bittel seized opportunities to nurture his own career, entering the company’s management training program in 1981. He rose to regional vice president, then vice president of rental, and, ultimately, vice president and general manager of southern California.
“I definitely got in on a ground-floor opportunity,” says Bittel. But as grateful as he is for the professional opportunities, Bittel says Enterprise’s culture — cultivated by its founder Jack C. Taylor — shaped him in an even more important way.
“If you work for Enterprise, you give,” Bittel says. “The Taylor family is extremely giving and engages in an amazing amount of philanthropy.” Enterprise managers encouraged their own employees to give back to their communities, something Bittel took to heart.
He and his wife, Denise — whom he met at an Enterprise employee softball game — made generosity a family value. They raised their children — sons Brandon ’09 and Brennan ’14, and daughter Brienne — to view giving as a part of life.
That ethic of generosity rooted itself at ASU after Brandon and Brennan flourished here during their academic career and the family endowed a scholarship fund to support students with financial need.
Bittel says they recognized it wasn’t just his children who thrived here — ASU is devoted to ensuring all students succeed. “ASU does such a wonderful job of doing everything it can to get these kids to achieve their collegiate goals,” he says. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“In my heart of hearts I believe that the lack of education in parts of our country means a lot of kids don’t have a chance,” he says. “I felt that we could help in higher education, especially with first-generation students, knowing how much courage that takes.”
The Bittel Family scholarship currently enables three students to attend ASU. Bittel says it is humbling to watch them strive to reach their potential.
He’s also glad for the chance to further embed the value of generosity in his family. “We’ve been blessed as a family,” he says. “That will be a place for them to give back.”