THE POWER OF PERSEVERANCE.

Author:Jaime, Kristian
Position:ENERGY: COVER - Cover story
 
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David Hernandez, CEO of Florida's Liberty Power, is no stranger to starting over. Whether it was finding his way to the Unites States from the shores of Havana, Cuba with his parents and eight siblings at five years old, or rebuilding his career after the cataclysmic collapse of ENRON, acquiescence was never in the cards.

TO SAY THAT entrepreneurship was always in the Hernandez' blood is an understatement. The work ethic handed down from a father who worked as a painter evolved to taking the money earned there to start a lawn care business by age 12. The journey from coming to this country as an immigrant to creating one of the largest Hispanic owned businesses in America is one marked by vision, tenacity and a fanatical focus on understanding customers' needs.

"My family left Cuba and eventually came to the United States via Madrid, Spain," said Hernandez. 'You can imagine what a challenge that is to start over not once, but twice. One of the starkest differences between Cuba and the United States is their economic policies and support of free markets. Later when I went into the telecom industry that stuck with me and I further appreciated the benefits of competition."

During his twenties, Hernandez was entering the telecommunication industry which was on the verge of unprecedented expansion with companies like Nortel Networks. With restructuring well underway in Latin America, a stage in the industry for which Hernandez was present, entrepreneurship was to be rewarded.

The learning curve for a young man on the rise meant earning an MBA from New York University to augment his training as a CPA Not long after, a little known Texas-based firm named ENRON began restructuring its own approach to the utility market on the wholesale side in an effort to diversify its portfolio. The creation of an open energy sector soon precipitated the rise of independent power producers eager to sell to traditional energy companies.

Hernandez soon saw this as the seminal opportunity for which he was looking and Texas was seemingly the epicenter.

"It's no surprise that access to affordable energy is one of the leading indicators of economic growth," Hernandez continued. "Even on a more fundamental level, it is vital to the growth of your human capital. When children don't have access to that, especially in the evening, it becomes difficult to complete simple tasks like homework or to read."

The fundamental need for a dynamic, competitive power market, was a big...

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