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Harry Wayne Huizenga (pronounced /haɪˈzɛŋɡə/; born December 29, 1937 in Evergreen Park, Illinois) is an American businessman who grew Blockbuster Video, Waste Management, Inc., and AutoNation into successful companies. He is the former owner of the National Football League's Miami Dolphins, the National Hockey League's Florida Panthers and the Major League Baseball's Florida Marlins. He graduated from the Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1955 and is an alumnus of Calvin College located in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Background

H. Wayne Huizenga, Jr. is of Dutch descent.[1] His parents, Gerrit Harry and Jean Huizenga, were both products of the Chicago Dutch community. Wayne was born in Evergreen Park, a Chicago suburb, on December 31, 1937. He has one sister, Bonnie, who is five years younger. Wayne grew up in Evergreen Park until he was about 15 when the Huizinga family moved to Florida and settled in the Fort Lauderdale area.

Wayne spent part of his high school years in the Chicago area, where he attended Timothy Christian School. His family then moved to Florida, the remainder of his high school years were spent at Pine Crest School. Wayne is remembered by his Pine Crest teachers and classmates as a happy and popular student who played on the school's football team, was elected to senior class treasurer, and earned decent grades. After high school graduation Wayne moved back to Chicago where most of his friends, grandparents and other relatives still lived. In 1956 he enrolled at Calvin College, a liberal arts college in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In September 1959, Wayne enlisted in the Army reserve and spent six months in the service full time to complete his basic training. On September 10, 1960 he married Joyce VanderWagon, a woman with a Dutch background. He had known Joyce since his early school years in Evergreen Park, Illinois. Wayne and Joyce had two children, Wayne Jr. and Scott. The marriage ended in divorce in 1966. Wayne married his second wife, Marti Goldsby, in April 1972.

Professional career

Starting with a single garbage truck in 1968, he grew Waste Management, Inc. into an entity that would become a Fortune 500 company. Huizenga aggressively purchased independent garbage hauling companies, and by the time he took the company public in 1972, he had completed the acquisition of 133 small-time haulers. By 1983, he grew Waste Management into the largest waste disposal company in the United States.

Huizenga is said to have used questionable means to grow his business in the early stages. In one documented incident, Huizenga grabbed a man by his testicles for not using Huizenga's garbage disposal outfit. The assault resulted in permanent damage to the man's groin and testicles. [2][3]

Huizenga's boat, Floridian, in Bar Harbor, Maine in July, 2006

Huizenga repeated his business success with Blockbuster Video, opening a handful of stores in 1987, and becoming the country's leading movie rental chain by 1994. Eventually, Huizenga would also build and acquire auto dealerships, from which in 1996 he formed AutoNation, which has become the nation's largest automotive dealer and a Fortune 500 company, and remains his most recent major business venture. Huizenga has been a five-time recipient of Financial World magazine's "CEO of the Year" award, and was the Ernst & Young "2005 World Entrepreneur of the Year".

In late 2004, he sold his ownership share in a group of hotels that included The Hyatt Pier 66 Hotel and Radisson Bahia Mar Hotel & Marina in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, The Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton, Florida, and several others in Naples, Florida and Arizona.

In 2004, Huizenga purchased the private luxury yacht Aussie Rules from the Australian boat builder and the golfer Greg Norman. The yacht cost $77 million and was further modified by Huizenga and now features a helipad for a twelve-seat helicopter. Aussie Rules was renamed Floridian after his golf course designed by Gary Player.

Sports team ownership

Huizenga currently owns 5% of the Miami Dolphins, as well as 5% of LandShark Stadium in Miami Gardens. He held 50% of the team and stadium until January 2009 when he sold 45% of his remaining 50% stake to Stephen Ross.

He purchased 15% of the team and their sports venue in 1990, during a period of financial hardship for the franchise. Long time owner Joe Robbie had recently died and his family found it difficult to keep the team afloat. In turn, Huizenga bought out the remaining shares of the team to become full owner in 1993. He then pulled the Joe Robbie name off the building and sold that space to a corporate sponsor who later went under (Pro Player). It has since been renamed Dolphins Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, and LandShark Stadium. On February 22, 2008, Huizenga sold 50% of the Miami Dolphins and 50% of the then Dolphin Stadium to Stephen M. Ross, a New York City-based real estate developer and founder, chairman and CEO of The Related Companies. [4]

Huizenga is notable for introducing both baseball and hockey to the South Florida area as the initial owner of the Florida Marlins and Florida Panthers. He was criticized for naming his two teams for the state of Florida rather than the city of Miami, but as an advocate for the city of Fort Lauderdale, he explained that his goal was to include Broward County and Palm Beach County in his teams' fanbase. (Indeed, Huizenga claimed at the time that he had not even considered naming the teams after "Miami" as an option, and that in his view the only legitimate choices had been "Florida," "South Florida," and "Tri-County.") This goal of expanding the team's fan bases has not been achieved, as both the Marlins and Panthers have consistently finished near the bottom of their respective leagues in annual home attendance; the name has had little observable impact on the teams' popularity in Huizenga's favored suburbs, while decreasing their popularity among fans who identify themselves with the city of Miami.

Huizenga, in keeping with his previously stated intentions, sold the Marlins to current Boston Red Sox owner John Henry at the end of the 1998 season. Since then, however, relations between Huizinga and new Marlins management has been tepid, mainly because of stadium lease disagreements.

Huizenga operated the Panthers as a public holding company, buying numerous real estate properties in the name of his Panthers Holding Group. In 2001, Huizenga sold the Panthers to pharmaceutical juggernaut and friend Alan Cohen and his partner, former Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar, for a discount price. However, Huizenga maintained his status as owner of the BankAtlantic Center, from which he still collects all arena revenue. In all three team ownerships, he is very well known for minimizing costs while maximizing profits.

Philanthropy

Huizenga is a large donor to Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale. The business school at NSU is named H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship. As well, Huizenga has donated to Pine Crest School, a private preparatory school, with their science building named the Huizinga Science Building after him. Mr. Huizenga was inducted into the Junior Achievement U. S. Business Hall of Fame in 2006.

H. Wayne Huizenga Received the prestigious Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Award in 1992. Since he has taken an active role in giving out scholarships throughout Florida. His donations also help the National Scholar Scholarships presented annually by Horatio Alger. Horatio Alger named him the 2008 Norman Vincent Peale Award recipient, the highest honor bestowed upon any member of the Horatio Alger Association. The Horatio Alger Association is the largest need-based scholarship fund in the United States giving out millions of dollars in scholarships every year. For more information on H. Wayne Huizenga and Horatio Alger visit Horatio Alger.

References

  1. ^ H. Wayne Huizenga
  2. ^ http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1996/08/05/215467/index.htm
  3. ^ http://www.corporations.org/wmi/huizenga.html
  4. ^ FOX Sports report on Huizenga selling shares to Ross
Preceded by
Tim Robbie
Miami Dolphins President
1995-1996
Succeeded by
Eddie Jones
Preceded by
Estate of Joe Robbie
Miami Dolphins Principal Owner
1995-2009
Succeeded by
Stephen Ross
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