FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - H. Wayne Huizenga's admirers treat him with a reverence normally reserved for sports idols, rock gods or movie stars.
Following the Republic Industries annual meeting, the billionaire entrepreneur is swamped by his fans, many of whom ask him to autograph dollar bills, Republic annual reports or spare scraps of paper.
The Republic annual meeting is pure show business, and Huizenga is the main draw for 3,000 shareholders, employees and South Florida glitterati.
The Republic chairman has made some people wealthy over the years, and they turn out in droves to shake his hand and thank him. They are not disappointed by the show.
Sharing the stage with Huizenga is Steve Berrard, Republic president and co-CEO. As the meeting-goers enter the modern Broward Center for the Performing Arts, they are greeted with car-theme songs, including 'Little Deuce Coupe,' 'Route 66,' 'King of the Road' and 'Life in the Fast Lane.'
The meeting is interspersed with automotive video. Much was shot in-house, including a segment with Republic management lip-synching to an opera score and touting the virtues of their company.
But even John Wayne has a speaking part, appearing via a clip from the film The Alamo: 'Some words can give you a feeling that can make your heart warm. Republic is one of those words.'