Leisure-Time The Key
From the very beginning, the founders decided they would focus on "leisure-time" products and services that were affordable, expendable and enjoyable.
Their company – the Wolfson-Meyer Theatre Company - became one of Florida's corporate giants: Wometco Enterprises, Inc. ("Wometco").
For the first two decades, Wometco was strictly a theatre company, operating South Florida's largest theatre chain. It was the age of cinematic glamour, typified by dazzling world premieres. In fact, from 1936 and 1941, Wometco's Lincoln Theatre on Miami Beach held more world premiere events than any theatre outside of California.
All the stars visited Miami – and Wometco played host.
Wometco Branches Out
After World War II, Wometco diversified into other businesses, such as television broadcasting, vending, Coca-Cola bottling, cable television, and tourist attractions - including the world-famous Miami Seaquarium. In 1959, the company sold shares to the public and in 1965 Wometco began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (trading symbol: "WOM").
For nearly 60 years, Wometco was guided by its founder and president, Colonel Mitchell Wolfson. Colonel Wolfson was highly-respected for his business acumen and widely-admired as a dedicated public servant. He tirelessly devoted a major portion of his life to bettering the south-Florida community he loved.
After Col. Wolfson's death, Wometco Enterprises, Inc was sold to the New York-based investment firm of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. in April 1984. A year later, two longtime Wometco executives – Arthur Hertz and Michael Brown – purchased several of Wometco's major businesses from KKR, including Wometco Theaters and Wometco Vending and Food Services. The deal was finalized on June 4, 1985.
Guiding Hertz and Brown's decision was their desire to preserve a name that represented a rich legacy in the business world and the Florida community. They named their new company WOM after Wometco's former New York Stock Exchange symbol, later remaining WOM as Wometco to retain tradition.
They vowed their businesses would retain the Wometco identity and continue to operate under the principles that Mitchell Wolfson first instilled in 1925.
Today, Wometco is composed of two divisions: Entertainment (principally Miami Seaquarium) and Puerto Rico Food Service, which consists of the Baskin-Robbins and Dunkin Donut stores in Puerto Rico.
The Best Is Yet To Come
Today, Wometco Management has its eye on the future. It is building new stores and refurbishing older ones in Puerto Rico. It has rebuilt much of the infrastructure of Miami Seaquarium and has added interactive programs including dolphin swims and reef aquarium underwater dive tours. It will add more in the future. This progressive policy served Wometco well over the years, and the Company is dedicated to continuing its heritage of excellence in serving the public.