"My friends tell me I’m using my lives pretty fast. I tell them I’m a bad weed and hard to kill."
A shopkeeper’s son, Mike Fernandez came to America from Cuba in 1964 at age 12. He had unremarkable grades as a student and abandoned college. After a stint in the Army, he sold life insurance in Miami, then health insurance to small but fast-growing Air Florida. He cashed out, struggled in his next venture — he had to move back in with his parents — then hit his stride. He built health care companies, cashed out, started again, cashed out.
In 2005, he started a private equity firm, MBF Healthcare Partners in Coral Gables. Its portfolio includes Navarro Discount Pharmacy, which now posts $320 million in revenue, and a managed-care company, Simply Healthcare Plans, that has gone from $38 million in revenue in 2010 to $270 million last year and expects $600 million to $700 million this year. Simply Healthcare’s ventures include a partnership with the University of Miami and Magic Johnson Enterprises to provide services to the HIV/AIDS population in south Florida.