Former Blockbuster owner Wayne Huizenga dies at 80

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Wayne Huizenga in 2009Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Wayne Huizenga in 2009

Wayne Huizenga, the former owner of Blockbuster Entertainment and three Florida sports teams, has died at the age of 80.

The college dropout made his fortune in waste disposal, founding Waste Management, now a publicly traded company worth more than $35bn (£24bn).

Mr Huizenga later expanded into car dealerships, hotels and video, turning Blockbuster into a major brand.

He sold Blockbuster to Viacom in 1994 in a deal then-valued at $8.4bn.

“I’d rather build a company than manage one,” he told The Wall Street Journal that year.

Mr Huizenga was born into the garbage business, with a grandfather who founded Huizenga & Sons, a Chicago garbage-hauling company in 1894.

He created Waste Management from a single garbage route in South Florida that he purchased in 1962, transforming it into a global giant through mergers and acquisitions.

He stepped down from the company in 1984, but continued to spot opportunities to build empires in fragmented industries, investing in laundries and bottled water companies.

He invested in Blockbuster in 1987, turning it from a company with less than 20 locations to more than 1,600 less than five years later.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Huizenga owned three professional sports teams, but sold all of them by 2009

After selling Blockbuster in 1994, Mr Huizenga turned to car dealerships with AutoNation and hotels through Extended Stay America.

He also used his wealth to purchase the Florida Marlins and Panthers as well as the Miami Dolphins sports teams.

Known for a relentless work appetite, Mr Huizenga told reporters that he rarely went to the movies and did not own a video cassette recorder (VCR) when he invested in Blockbuster.

“We get in early, go home late, travel after hours, have meetings on the plane,” Blockbuster’s chief marketing officer told the New York Times in 1991.

“Wayne sets the pace and everybody needs to move at that pace.”

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