Wayne Huizenga

Born 1937, Wayne Huizenga and company built the behemoth waste disposal company, Waste Management. He then used his Midas touch to build Blockbuster Video into the nation's largest video rental company. In 1997 he sold Blockbuster to Viacom for a whopping 8.5 billion dollars. Wayne currently owns the Miami Dolphins and Florida Panthers sport organizations. He was the original owner of the Florida Marlins baseball team which won a world series with him as owner in 1997. Two years later he sold the team.


Huizenga is chairman of AutoNation Inc., the nationĂ­s largest automobile retailer, chairman of Extended Stay America, which operates in the lodging industry, and chairman of Republic Services Inc., one of the largest providers of non-hazardous solid waste collection and disposal services in the United States. He is also chairman of Huizenga Holdings Inc. and is the sole or majority owner of several service businesses.


Among many skills Huizenga possesses, he is a master for identifying then organizing fragmented industries. Huizenga partners with other financiers who know and trust that he will succeed. Huizenga includes his father in the ownership of many ventures. But he is not afraid to use his own ample cash reserves in the hundreds of millions.



Harry Huizenga, Wayne Huizenga's father once said,

"My father always said working for somebody else never amounted to anything. You have to be an entrepreneur"

Quotes excerpted from "The Making of A Blockbuster" by Gail DeGeorge:

"I don't think we are unique, we're certainly not smarter than the next guy. So the only thing I can think of that we might do a little differently than some people is we work harder and when we focus in on something we are consumed by it. It becomes a passion".

"The enormous potential of the AutoNation concept will complement Republic's strategy of building a diversified group of growth businesses in highly fragmented industries."

A friend said, " He(Wayne) was always a perfectionist, whatever he got into he would carry through on it"


Entrepreneurship at an early age

You could say that Harry Wayne Huizenga (Wayne) and his family lived for garbage. In fact, his grandfather Harm, began a garbage hauling business as a Dutch immigrant in the early 1900's.


The family however, did not believe that Wayne's father Harry should enter the business and he became a carpenter only to have his son return to the business of garbage. Wayne worked with his father helping out on job sites, always desirous to please.


Wayne was a self-starting bold but generous youth. He had tremendous respect for family and most importantly for his father. Pranks and driving fast cars were great pastimes in Florida in the 1950's.


Sneaking a pet alligator into the college dormitory, and dropping water balloons on teachers left little doubt that Wayne was not cut out for college. Wayne dropped out of school after only 3 semesters. He briefly joined the army then married for a short period of time. In 1962, at the age of 25, Wayne coaxed a local trash hauler in Florida to sell him a used truck and a few accounts. He borrowed $5000 from his father-in-law and Wayne was on his way to building the world's largest waste disposal company, Waste Management.


Key thoughts for entrepreneurs

Find a niche that interest you. Then do your homework. While Huizenga looks to play the big niches, we can each look in our local areas for opportunity. And who knows where it can go with passion and hard work?


Wayne is an instinctual driver that doesn't stop until he's done. Sure he's brash, aggressive and thick skinned but that's what it takes. As one of his original employees once said, "He was always there before anyone else and he was always the last one to leave and in between he just did everything".


He is prepared to put in the time and the dollars to make things happen. His partners and financiers trust him implicitly for his character, ability, and performance.


As you might guess, Huizenga was not without hard times. As a child of divorced parents, he had great difficultly often denying himself a paycheck in the early years. He was accused of having connections to the mafia and even accusations of illegal disposition of harmful toxins (later disproved) while at Waste Management.


It is a long and hard road that your spouse, family and employees need to understand. Huizenga is known to use the word "we" often as it is only with the assistance of others that great things can be accomplished. People such as Huizenga are driven to succeed at everything they attempt. And if they don't, NEXT!!!


"Listen" to Gail DeGeorge, author of "The Making of a Blockbuster: How Wayne Huizenga Built a Sports and Entertainment Empire from Trash, Grit, and Videotape" on Let's Talk Business radio about Huizenga's entrepreneurial characteristics.




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