Mike Fernandez founds and builds health care companies via internal capital by embracing risk, using smart teams
Miguel "Mike" Fernandez is a Miami entrepreneur's entrepreneur. He has the big office in a high-rise, complete with plush furnishings, a big flat-screen TV, and photos of him with famous people. He has a helicopter. He has a corporate jet. He had a yacht, but he's having a new one built. He keeps models of them outside his office, like symbols of the fruits of his ingenuity.
He has a portfolio of health care companies. He has enough income sources to make a tax examiner's head spin. He has a wife and five children. And he wondered if he might lose it all when doctors told him last year he had prostate cancer. He had surgery and now he says he's OK.
Mr. Fernandez is used to coming out on top. What else can you say about a Cuban immigrant who came to the US as a boy; became a paratrooper for three years; moved to Miami, living in modest apartments; started out as a salesman, and, despite not having a college degree, found a way to become a multi-millionaire? Somewhere along the line, he figured out the American dream and he figured it out well.
One of his specialties is founding companies, shaping them up, and eventually selling them off for big money. His current roster of businesses includes a controlling interest in Navarro Discount Pharmacies, the largest retail pharmacy chain in the US focused on the Hispanic market.
He's also political. He's one of Republican Mitt Romney's biggest financial supporters. And he doesn't mind talking about the pitfalls of big government, though, ironically, some of his companies' biggest revenue sources are the federal and state governments.
He has a way of winning you over as he speaks. Agree with him or not, he seems to have mastered capitalism.
Not that he's all about money. One of things he likes about health care is the idea of helping people, including a unique insurance plan he and his partners started this year that exclusively serves HIV/AIDS patients. In the Mike Fernandez tradition, he is doing it big, getting NBA Hall of Famer Ervin "Magic" Johnson, the world's most famous HIV-positive person, to buy into the venture and be a spokesman for the company. And he has given away more money (he says $100 million over the last decade) than ordinary millionaires dream of making.
Mr. Fernandez spoke about his approach to business and his views at his Coral Gables office with Miami Today reporter Scott Blake.
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