I find that the past performance of the chairmen in 'personality cult' organizations is a reliable predictor of future directions - Henry Ford at Ford Motor Co., the Watsons at IBM and Bill Gates at Microsoft.
Republic Industries chairman H. Wayne Huizenga is known for his success in waste management and video rental. His timing was excellent in selling Blockbuster to Viacom just as technology was creating viable alternatives to video rental. Quite a salesman!
Huizenga is the first person to convince a generally parochial group of sports team owners that he should hold professional football, baseball and hockey franchises in the same market. Quite a salesman!
In less than a year, Huizenga's name has become as common as Chrysler, Ford and General Motors throughout the auto industry. Why? You guessed it: Quite a salesman!
When you can convince industry leaders like Mike Maroone, et al., to bet their accumulated fortunes and independence; when you can move Ford to propose taking over entire cities in a (retail) business Ford has avoided or done poorly at in the past; when you can take a combination of National, Alamo and Spirit car rentals, AutoNation, the aforementioned dealers and Manny, Moe and Jack and scare the you know what out of our largest industry, you're quite a salesman!
We may wonder how the automotive portion of Republic Industries may be scaled back or put up for sale or divested or liquidated after not performing to the satisfaction of the investment community. After all, Huizenga does not control Republic the way he controls his sports franchises.
Wouldn't it be ironic if the major automobile manufacturers ended up buying their portions of AutoNation's new-car dealerships, thus allowing them to accomplish something state franchise laws and the thousands of dealers/entrepreneurs have prevented them from doing all these years?
Then we'll really be saying, 'Quite a salesman!'
Pine City, Minn.