As the largest Hertz rental car licensee in North America, with franchises in 21 cities and more than 300 employees, Overland West president Jerry H. Petersen knows a thing or two about building a business.

"I think of an entrepreneur as someone who thinks up a new or better plan of engaging in a business endeavor, or creating a new business model in an existing setting, and then assumes a substantial risk in putting his or her plan into play," Petersen said. "To succeed in today's tough competitive environment, however, requires more than a great plan and a robust beginning."

Petersen committed early on in life to work harder and smarter than his competitors for as long as it took to ensure success. His work ethic has paid off, with successful businesses dotting the Intermountain West.

In addition to Ogden-based Overland West, Petersen has launched prosperous ventures in the automobile sales, commercial real estate and oil businesses. For Overland West, Petersen also played a role in developing the company's computer software system, which is currently used by other Hertz licensees nationwide.

Looking into the future, Petersen said he hoped to expand his car-rental and sales business. He plans to open a new vehicle sales operation in Caldwell, Idaho, later this year. Another is scheduled to open in Montana in 2002.

Petersen also is an avid aviator, currently qualified to fly high-performance, multi-engine, turbo-propeller airplanes. He also has participated in the Executive Lecture series hosted by Weber State University's College of Business and Economics and has been recognized as an honorary professor.