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Roger Penske: Meet Horatio Alger

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Roger Penske
Roger Penske

A national organization dedicated to awarding the achievements of leaders who faced considerable adversity selected a Berks County top executive to join the group.

Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Inc. said it named Roger Penske, chairman of Penske Corp. of Cumru Township, as one of 11 who will be inducted into the association on March 30-April 1 during an induction ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The award is annually given to leaders who have succeeded despite facing adversity and who are committed to higher education and charitable efforts in their local communities.

Though Penske suffered from a motorcycle accident at a young age that left him with serious injuries, he began rehabilitation and got his first job at a local car dealership. From there, be began to build a career as an entrepreneur by buying old cars and rebuilding them for sale.

He attended Lehigh University in Bethlehem and began racing automobiles, with his first professional car race soon after. From there, he continued competing before he founded Penske Corp. in 1969. Today, the transportation services company manages several subsidiaries and yields more than $26 billion in revenue and employs more than 50,000 people worldwide, according to a news release.

This year, Team Penske, the professional car racing team that bears his name, marks its 50th year.

Penske took some time to answer the following questions from Lehigh Valley Business.

  • How do you feel to be honored by the Horatio Alger organization?

“It is certainly a tremendous honor to be recognized as a recipient of the 2017 Horatio Alger Award. The Horatio Alger Association does terrific work in helping provide educational opportunities for young people who want to pursue their dreams. I applaud their efforts and to be recognized alongside 10 remarkable men and women who are committed to higher education and charitable efforts in the local communities is truly special.”

  • When did you retire from auto racing?

“I made the decision to stop racing competitively in 1965 because I had an opportunity in the business world. While I was no longer competing behind the wheel, racing continued to be one of my greatest passions. We formed Penske Racing and as we grew our company on the business side we also continued to build our race teams. It is incredible to think that we are still growing and winning with Team Penske now 50 years later.”

  • Are you planning any philanthropic activities in Berks County?

“Our Penske Truck Leasing and Penske Truck Rental businesses have been based in Reading for nearly five decades and we are proud to continue to give back to the community that has been our home for so many years in Berks County.”

  • What do you think it takes to be an entrepreneur? What advice would you give to be successful?

“To me being an entrepreneur means having a dream and a vision of how to make that dream into reality. The best advice I can give to aspiring entrepreneurs is to believe in yourself and your dream and be ready to do all the hard work it will take achieve your goals. It is a lesson I learned very early on in business and in life and it still holds true today – effort equals results.”

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Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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