LEE Underwood is managing director of York based fleet management company, Autohorn, which provides vehicle hire and leasing, fuel management, driver training and accident management services throughout the UK.

Autohorn was established in York in 1995 by chairman Richard Baines, with five staff and a fleet of just nine cars. Since joining Autohorn in 1999 as sales manager and becoming managing director in 2003, Mr Underwood has helped to develop and expand the company significantly.

With a £7.5 million turnover, buying in excess of £30 million of vehicles every year, Autohorn's large company headquarters are in Leeman Road in York, where it employs 70 staff, increasing to 100 in seasonally busy periods, and houses a rental fleet of 2000 cars per annum.

Mr Underwood has worked to turn Autohorn into one of the most innovative companies of its kind and it is now considered to be one of the greenest fleets in the North Yorkshire region as well as one of the area’s largest buyers of hybrid and electric vehicles.

Reducing the environmental footprint is at the heart of everything the company does and Autohorn was early adopters of electric and hybrid cars. In 2010 it was one of the first companies in the UK to introduce hybrid vehicles into a rental fleet, actively helping to reduce emissions into York City Centre and make the city ‘greener’. The company has six of its own electric charging points.

Having recently taken delivery of ten Mercedes Benz electric vehicles, turning Autohorn into the first car rental company in York to have pure electric vehicles for hire, Mr Underwood is a huge advocate for ‘greener’ travel believing that electric and hybrid cars are the future as people become more and more conscious of emissions and air quality.

What job would you like to have other than your own and why?

"Well given my love of cars I couldn’t imagine having a career that didn’t involve them, so being a Formula 1 driver would suit me quite nicely I think! I’d enjoy all the excitement and the adrenaline rush, and the pay isn’t too bad either."

Greatest achievement?

"My greatest achievement is getting the business to where it is today. When I joined it was still very small and now, having celebrated our 20th anniversary this year, we employ more than 70 staff and have a fleet of 2000 cars. I’m also very proud of the great culture we have been able to instil within the company."

What makes you most angry?

Myself. I get annoyed at the stupid little things too easily.

Biggest mistake?

"My biggest mistake is not investing in quality employees quickly enough. I’ve learnt that it is crucial to have a strong and reliable team of staff behind you when you’re building a business. The team around me now are fantastic and I’m hugely grateful for that."

What do you need to make life complete?

"I'm very happy with my life at the moment and I'm not sure I could really improve it that much. There’s always room for a bit more fun though. A nice cold beer and holiday in the sun wouldn’t go a miss."

Why do you make a difference?

"We work hard to make sure dealing with Autohorn, whether you’re a customer, supplier or a member of staff, is both enjoyable and easy."


"He worked hard and wasn’t greedy."