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History

Celebrating nearly 60 years of service to the community.

Autow first opened for business in 1962, in Nashville, Tennessee. Initially named Autow Repairs, the emphasis was providing truck repairs and towing services. However, the owner, Howard Leon Harlan, Sr. quickly realized that the customers awaiting repairs needed access to rental vehicles. So, he purchased 10 box trucks, offered short-term rentals, and renamed the company to Autow Truck Rental, Inc.

Company Expands Services and Inventory

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It wasn’t long before customers began requesting longer leasing options and within a few short years the company opened a leasing division as well. Soon after, Leon Harlan’s son, Howard Leon Harlan, Jr. joined him in the business. With son, Howard’s leadership, by the early 1970s, the company had expanded their truck inventory to 150 trucks.

By 1978, the company had acquired major accounts with corporations such as Pabst Blue Ribbon, Caster Knott/Dillard’s, Dollar General, Roadway, and Southerland, which prompted Howard to take the company national.

Autow Truck Rental, Inc. purchased the local Avis Truck Rental franchise and became known as Avis Autow Truck Rental. The company relocated to a state of the art facility situated on 2.5 acres just outside of downtown Nashville, making room for their ever-growing inventory.

At the new location, there were nearly 250 trucks and included primarily straight trucks and class 7 & 8 tractors. However, in 1982, Howard landed a major full service contract with Nashville Gas, resulting in 250 light and medium trucks being added to the inventory to meet the demand.

Business Growth Continues

In 1990, Howard’s son Howard Leon (Lee) Harlan III graduated from the University of Georgia and joined the family business, making it three generations strong. Having grown up working at Autow during summer vacations, Lee had already gotten acquainted with many business owners in the Nashville community. This connection allowed him to gain the trust and patronage of several local businesses, enabling Autow to increase their fleet by another 200 over the next ten years.

As growth continued to flourish, Lee focused on gaining leverage in order to better serve customers. Thus, in 1998 the company became a member of the NationaLease Franchise. This affiliation provided Autow with more purchasing power and access to more than 900 locations across the United States and Canada. Additionally, it also made it feasible for them to provide towing and rental options to customers experiencing breakdowns not only in the Tennessee area, but in multiple other states as well.

As of 2005, Lee opened a second location in Birmingham, Alabama. It consists of 7 acres along with a 25,000 square foot facility, which substantially expanded the company’s market share. In addition to the business facility, there are two storage warehouses onsite that span more than 50,000 square feet and leased to Wrax Manufacturing and Coca Cola.

In 2013, the company expanded again and purchased the 6-acre facility located on Lebanon Pike, in Nashville. The renovations included the addition of a truck-detailing bay, a four bay fuel island, and through partnering with their sister company, Music City Trailer Repair, trailer service and repair is also available.

The upgrades transformed Autow into a one-stop state of the art center that includes rental, leasing, and servicing; devised to handle all customers needs.

Autow has been a member of the National Truck Leasing System for more than two decades as of 2019, and is the largest member in both Tennessee and Alabama. Today, Autow is predominantly focused on providing short-term and long-term rental contracts on their inventory of medium to heavy-duty over-the-road trucks.

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Customer Satisfaction is Priority

Autow Box truck in Downtown Nashville
Maintenance Services
Autow Truck Tractor Trailer in town

Since Howard Leon Harlan, Sr. first started the business more than 50 years ago, Autow has always made it a top priority to provide quality-personalized service. From the time the company had a mere ten trucks available for lease to the hundreds available now, the Harlan family has been dedicated to accommodating hundreds of commercial accounts.

Autow has accounts with multiple companies including Kroger, American Red Cross, Marvin Windows, Dollar General, Parman Energy, Wilson Sporting Goods, Southern Ionics, O’Neal Steel, PSC Metals, Crothall Linen, First Source, and Vanderbilt University. Conversely, nearly 80% of the wholesale wine and liquor distributors serving the Mid-South area is transported in an Autow vehicle.

Whether small businesses or Fortune 500 companies, the team at Autow will tailor the service contracts as much as possible to ensure 100% customer satisfaction.

Autow Trucks Variety of Trucks