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September 23, 2018


What's Mike Fernandez's Encore?

Mike Fernandez's healthcare companies have returned an average 133% a year over the last 15 years.

Mike Vogel | 5/1/2008
Mike Fernandez
As a teen, Mike Fernandez was a student of the rich, studying their personalities and gestures. The philharmonic, he says, “was a place where I went to learn what I wanted to be.” [Photo: Eileen Escarda]

For years, Brian Moroney, a teacher at an elite Jesuit high school in Manhattan, took a few of his students to the New York Philharmonic to broaden their minds. Decades ago, one such student, Miguel B. “Mike” Fernandez, a Cuban refugee, particularly impressed Moroney with his maturity, his humility and how at peace he was with himself. “Nothing to prove,” says Moroney, who was also struck by the freshman’s devotion to the arts.

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For Fernandez, however, the attraction of the philharmonic wasn’t the bassoons on the stage, but the tycoons in the audience. He went to the concerts to study the wealthy, he says. “I would sit around and watch how they talked to each other and how they nodded their heads and how controlled they were in their personalities,” recalls Fernandez, 55. “They didn’t speak with their hands as much as people that I knew. It was a place where I went to learn what I wanted to be.”

Fernandez Affiliates

Dental insurance provider Atlantic Dental, Coral Gables, 650,000 members, founded in 1997 by Fernandez. Slated to be sold later this year on undisclosed terms to dental benefits administrator Doral Dental.

Hospitalists of America, Coral Gables, a provider of 250 specialists in hospital care to 65 hospitals. Owned by Fernandez’s private equity firm.

Medical Specialties Distributors, Stoughton, Mass., a medical supplies distributor, largely to the infusion therapy market. Purchased in 2005. $180 million in annual revenue.

Navarro Discount Pharmacies, Miami, 31 stores, 3,000 employees, $350 million in annual sales. Nation’s largest Hispanic-owned pharmacy chain. Purchased a controlling interest in 2007. Added Sedano’s Pharmacy & Discount stores, which have been converted into Navarro stores.

FDC Vitamins, Miami, vitamin manufacturer and distributor. Owned by Fernandez’s private equity firm.

He learns well. His ventures in managed care and other healthcare enterprises over the past 15 years have returned an average 133% a year. He owns a mansion on Biscayne Bay, a 161-foot yacht, a home in Utah and a quail-hunting plantation in Tallahassee. He heads one of the largest Hispanic-run private equity funds in the United States. Later this year, after decades operating in the private company sphere, he will for the first time take a company, Critical Homecare Solutions, into the publicly traded market.

And, thanks to those philharmonic visits, his manner is to the manor born, 44 years removed from his childhood as a shopkeeper’s son, living above a warehouse in a dirt-road town in southeast Cuba.

In 1964, when Fernandez was 12, his parents fled Cuba with him and his sister. Once in Manhattan, he earned admission to the prestigious, all-boys Xavier High School where Moroney taught. He was only a C student there. In college, he quit pre-architecture on the first day because the dean said the profession was about love of art, not doing well financially. Fernandez was drafted, joined the 82nd Airborne and never finished college.

Tags: Miami-Dade, Southwest, Healthcare

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