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The “E” Party, founded in 2006, is based on the idea that a good Executive leader needs to balance the considerations of all of his or her stakeholders in making decisions. In the medical industry, where I stem, we must always balance the interests of the patients and their safety and well being with the demands of keeping a business afloat. We must simultaneously do this while meeting our obligations to pay our employees and suppliers. We believe, like Colin Powell teaches, that a great leader must promote a passionate clash of ideas to involve others in bringing forth fresh new approaches in order to come to sound decisions. You need to create a healthy environment where differing ideas can be exchanged without the discussion prompting personal attacks. We believe that this same type of leadership is especially appropriate for the Executive positions of Governor and President. For these positions, the “E” Party will run our own candidates if we are not satisfied with a currently running eDemocrat or eRepublican. For legislatures, we believe in the strong two party systems. Our place in the legislative process will be to endorse eDemocrats and eRepublicans that best support the Big 6 “E’s” of Entrepreneurship, Exports, Environment, Education, Excellence in Government Services, and Excellence in Health.
I personally feel very grateful to be an American. I truly love our country. I love what we stand for, our principles and values. I really believe that America is the land of opportunity. I grew up in a small town about 30 minutes outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I had a Tom Sawyer like childhood, building tree forts, fishing, playing sports, and getting parts from the local junkyard to complete engineering and science projects in the basement of our home. I was a prolific reader from a young age. I had glasses and read many books; the kids called me The Professor. My favorite book was The Science of Baseball. Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin, and Howard Hughes (due to his first name) were heroes of mine; I read everything I could about them. I had a book called 101 Science Experiments, and I tried to complete every one of them in our basement. During my childhood, I started many small businesses. The first was washing cars, the next was picking up garbage at local grocery and convenience store parking lots, another was chopping down firewood from the local woods drying it out and selling it by wagon to our neighbors. I also had many jobs including: picking radishes, working at a local machine shop drilling holes in tractor wheel assemblies, usher and maintenance at a local Drive-In movie theater, gas station attendant, music store clerk, and assistant to a television repair man. During college, I went to school from 8am to about 2:30pm and then got in my car and drove to my job at the fiberglass parts factory where I worked from 3pm to 11pm. I worked in a closed box cutting the excess fiberglass. I wore a full body suit and mask to protect myself from the glass particles. In January of 1985, my wife, baby son, and I drove down to Florida from our home state of Minnesota via a short stay in Georgia in our old Mercury Capri hatchback car. We had $600 in savings saved from working 80 hours a week from the previous two years. When we arrived, the NFL AFC Championship game with Dan Marino and the Dolphins was taking place and we could not find a hotel room under $200 a night. Our $600 in life savings would have been exhausted in only 3 days. So, we checked into a campground and lived in our car for a short while. I found a retail sales job to keep us going and set about building a life. When we attempted to rent our first apartment for $400 a month, in a fairly decent area of town, they told us they needed first month, last month, and a $1000 security deposit. We barely had the $400 for rent. Consequently, we had to look for another place that led us to an area of town that was not quite as nice. After some weeks, I was able to find a job in my chosen field of International Trade, helping U.S. manufacturers of medical supplies to export their products to foreign markets. I received a diploma in International Trade from Anoka Technical College in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1982. I entered this field after listening to a speech given by President Ronald Reagan, in 1980, where he spoke about the importance of exports in creating new jobs. He also spoke about the importance of entrepreneurs in job creation and referenced the great achievement of Steve Jobs and Steve Wosniak the young founders of Apple Computer. We were freshly out of a period of high unemployment which was around 10% overall and about 20% for young people, at the time. I had seen, with my own eyes, the loss of dignity suffered by some of the fathers of my friends during that period. So, when President Reagan spoke of the impact of exports in creating new jobs, I said “That is what I want to do!” I was so grateful to have a job in my field that I worked 6 days a week 16 hours a day for little pay. I learned the trade well and ended up increasing the revenue of my employer by over $2.0 million in 1985 and 1986. Most of the business I gained for our small U.S. manufacturers of primarily cardiovascular related equipment and supplies was in the developing countries of the Middle East and Far East. I learned a lot in those days traveling throughout that region. Some of my trips would be three months long, traveling hospital to hospital and from local agent to local agent.
In 1986, I broke away and formed World Medical Corporation in the bedroom of our apartment. Our first month in business, we secured $46,000 in orders with payment by guaranteed letter of credit. We were so happy. We then went to our bank and provided them this guaranteed letter of credit and asked to use this as collateral to receive the funds to purchase the goods from our suppliers in order to ship them to our customers in the Middle East. They refused even though the letter of credit was guaranteed. To make a long story short – The Export-Import Bank of the United States saved our business by providing a guarantee to our bank of payment. When we received letters of credit from our customers, that then allowed us to get the funds up front to pay our suppliers. When suppliers would come to our door, I was embarrassed. So, finally in January of 1987, we rented an office and small office near the airport in Miami. We rented this space from brothers Jorge and Carlos DeCespedes, two Cuban immigrants that came to the U.S.A. by boat with nothing and had built up a successful medical supplies business. I learned a lot from Jorge and Carlos; they treated me like one of their younger brothers. They taught me about the importance of building your own brand instead of just selling the brand names of others. They showed me how to put in place a private label program where manufacturers produced products under our label instead of their own. This turned out to be a great boost to our business, and we grew. In 1987, we received more than $3 million in orders with only 4 full time employees. We took modest salaries and reinvested almost all of the profits back into building the business.
We began to increasingly focus on specialty balloon catheters utilized in cardiac cath labs by cardiologists and intensive care physicians. Our label, World Medical, began to develop a following when one of our small manufacturers supplying us balloon catheters was bought by a large conglomerate. This conglomerate refused to supply to us any longer at reasonable terms. This day seemed like a great negative blow to us at the time. We collected our strength and made the commitment to begin manufacturing balloon catheters ourselves. We formed a separate company, World Medical Manufacturing Corporation, to pursue this manufacturing plan. We studied night and day to learn how to do it right. We hired advisors and experts. One of these experts was Allen Tower of Numed Inc., in Hopkinton, New York. I traveled up to his facility in the countryside of upper state New York where he converted an old school house into a manufacturing plant. I worked on his assembly lines learning how to assemble balloon catheters. We then made an agreement; whereby, I would only manufacture a certain type of balloon catheter that he had chosen not to manufacture. I honored that agreement to this day.
At the end of 1989, our trading company, World Medical Corporation, was finishing its best quarter of sales ever with over $600,000 in orders coming in just November and December of that year. We were elated. For the first time ever, we increased the credit line of our distributor in Saudi Arabia from $50,000 to $180,000 during this boom quarter. In March of 1990, I went to Saudi Arabia to collect the $180,000 they owed us, and they informed me that they were not going to pay, due to many unrelated excuses. All of sudden, we went from being on top of the world to being on the bottom. We could not pay our bills with this default. We found out how mean people can be when they do no get paid. Within months, our house was in foreclosure, our cars were towed from our parking lot, our workers left us one by one, as we could not pay all of them. Our suppliers, that had received millions of dollars of business from us over the years, that we had built relationships with, including taking us out to dinners, were now yelling at us over the phone and calling us bad names. Shortly after, attorneys began to make their calls and suits. We missed one quarterly tax payment to the Federal Government. By the time we saved up enough to pay the quarterly tax, the next quarter was due. We paid that one on time. Soon, the IRS was barging into our office with their badges, and they levied a personal fine on my wife. We had to pay this off over years. We learned the hard lesson that employees do not pay taxes, small employers do. No employees every have to worry about paying their taxes. Small company owners have that full burden on themselves. They have to pay even if they do not get paid themselves. They have to pay these taxes even if the workers fail to provide a return to the employer for their pay. During this time, we used the limited revenues to pay our employees and bills. There was nothing left for us. The entire experience ended up making us stronger in the long run. I carry this tough experience into my passion for helping small businessmen in their struggles to survive.
Luckily, our separate small manufacturing company grew, and by 1998, we had $9.2 million in revenues and $1 million in net profit. We were manufacturing a full line of cardiovascular products, including the Taheri-Leonhardt or TALENT endovascular stent graft for repairing diseased blood vessels. We had grown from those original 4 employees to over 500. We became World leaders in the repair of thoracic aortic aneurysms and abdominal aortic aneurysms. We saved many lives that would have been lost otherwise with this innovative product that allows aneurysms to repair without surgery using a catheter based technique. In April of 1998, we merged with another small company Arterial Vascular Engineering, Inc. of Santa Rosa, California, and shortly thereafter, in January 1999, we were acquired by Medtronic, Inc. of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Our original $600, we came to Florida with in 1985, had grown to millions.
In 1999, I left employment with Medtronic and founded Bioheart Inc., to apply adult muscle stem cells to repair damaged hearts using a non-surgical catheter based method. Over 25 million people suffer of heart failure Worldwide today. That number is expected to grow to nearly 50 million in just the next 5 years; Fifty percent of these 50 million heart failure patients are expected to die within 3 to 5 years of diagnosis. Heart failure is an epidemic and a tragedy. It is a great feeling to make a difference in the cause of doing something better for these patients. Our technology has advanced to Phase II/III clinical trials. Since 2000, over 300 patients have been treated with myoblast transplantation Worldwide. Eighty-three percent of these treated patients have had improvement, and only 17% worsened. We are working in our R&D lab to improve upon the original composition. We strongly believe that utilizing natural living cells, derived from a patient’s own body, to repair the heart makes more sense than using the old ways of artificial chemical drugs, plastic, and metal pumps and steel cans with batteries and pacing wires. We believe we are changing the world for the better! These are just some of the reasons why we started the "E" party plan.
The “E” Party plan was slowly developed over the course of my life. When I was nine years old, in Maple Grove, Minnesota I was in my backyard throwing up and down a football to myself. The sun was setting and the clouds were turning pink. The weather was gorgeous that day. The soft green grass felt cool on bare feet. I went into the house to get my mom and dad, and I saw that they were arguing about some financial difficulties. I decided not to interrupt and went back outside. I then went into a strong daydream where I made a promise to myself. The promise was between my nine year old self and my adult older mature self. The promise was that I would never forget the idealism, hope, and general elated happiness that I had as a nine year old. The day dream went further and got more specific; my nine year old self knew that there would come a time when my older self would be too shy and embarrassed to get in front of a group of people and exclaim, "life is to be enjoyed, not endured." This is something I had heard Hubert Humphrey our native son of Minnesota say. The dream even went further in directing a promise to lead an initiative with love and joy at its heart. So, in fulfillment of my promise to nine year old Howie, here I am today, embarrassed and shy, moving forward with this initiative.
My namesake grandfather, Howard C. Leonhardt, was a farmer and an operator of a grain elevator shovel in Minneapolis. He was a great man that taught me many things, including the importance of self reliance. Franklin D. Roosevelt was his favorite president. He told me that the country desperately needed confident leadership during the depression and that President Roosevelt delivered. He particularly thought the Public Works Administration, for that time, was a great idea to get the country working again and to restore dignity to many people. My Grandmother Gertrude at 95 is still alive and doing well. She often tells me stories of how hard it was for them growing up during the depression, and she never lets me forget how lucky we are today.
My other grandfather, Robert Anderson, was a pilot, who fought in World War II, and an engineer. I did not get to know him very well before he died of alcoholism related liver failure in his early 50’s. After decade or more of suffering, as did my grandmother Lorraine.
My Dad, Michael Leonhardt, was the head of machine maintenance at a major printing company in Minneapolis most of his life. He is now retired in Fort Worth, Texas. He is a mechanic that can fix almost anything and a machinist that can build anything from metal. Both my Mom, Penny, and Dad taught my brother, Dave, sister, Jenny, and I the pioneering spirit of, “You can learn to do anything if you set your mind to it." They built their own house. Mom made our clothes. Mom decorated our house, including sewing all the curtains and upholstering on the couches and chairs. Dad built our deck and our shed. He did our plumbing repairs and electrical repairs and installations. My Mom used to let me order books from the Scholastic Book Club. They made reading a joy and set me up with habits of lifelong learning that has been the most meaningful contributor to any success I have had. I am very grateful to both my parents for the way they raised my brother, sister, and me.
In 1995, we tragically lost my Mom to bone marrow cancer. She was only 49 years old at the time. She was diagnosed three years earlier at age 46. My Mom and Dad had paid health insurance their entire lives, even when the truly could not afford it. During all that time, they had hardly gone to a doctor, even one day. When it came time to cover my mom for her cancer treatments, after 26 years of paying into the health insurance plan at the same company, they denied payment. They said that the bone marrow cell transplantation that her doctors told her was her only hope was not covered by their insurance plan due to the fact that it was deemed to be experimental. My Mom and Dad took all their life savings and mortgaged their house and still did not have enough to cover the $128,000 cost of the transplantation, much less the other related bills. My Mom's sister, Chris, lent her the balance. The transplant was done, and we believe it extended her life by almost two years. We did all we could. In my last meaningful conversation with my mom, the subject of health insurance reform came up. As they were wheeling her down the hall for one of her last treatments, she said to me, “Give him hell on this issue Howard, and do not give up until reform is done.” Thus, here I am today, a little shy and embarrassed, attempting to lead an initiative to reform healthcare, particularly making access to so called experimental treatments available to more at less cost. But in this initiative, I carry the strength of backing from the memory of my beautiful mother, Penny, who expects me to follow through. I intend to do just that. I hope you will join me.
We are proud to be major sponsors of the Centers for Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida, Florida International University, Anoka Technical College, and the University of Northern California. I also serve on various boards at these Universities. At UF and FIU we have sponsored, for more than five years, the annual business plan competition. We believe supporting the teaching of entrepreneurship is a way of helping others to be able to help themselves.
I am proud to donate time and funds to the Dan Marino Children’s Hospital for Autism and other Disorders. This past summer, even with a busy schedule, I was proud to log in over 40 hours of time working hands on, in their physical and occupational rehabilitation center, with the kids. I would leave work a little early to get one hour, or sometimes two hours, in with them before the kids went home.
I am proud to be a grape farmer with seven acres of planted vines in Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County, California. I take great pleasure to go into town with my 1951 Red Dodge pickup truck, with Leonhardt Vineyards on the side doors, and have morning coffee with my fellow farmers. I seek out their opinion on politics, and they let me know how they feel. Much of their input has been incorporated into our platform. They are independent, self reliant, people that have worked hard for every dollar they have and every acre of land they own and farm. They believe passionately in private property privacy rights. We strive to be an environmentally friendly farm. We use minimal artificial fertilizers and mostly natural insect control methods. We use drip irrigation from our own well. We have 15 acres of total property and only plant 6 ½ leaving the balance 8 ½ acres natural woodlands and meadow. We are installing solar power panels for our pumps and the small farm house on the property.
When people ask “What will the E Party do that is different than the other two parties?” the reply is…
1. Entrepreneurship - We will provide more help than ever for people to be able to start their own small businesses and for those small businesses to thrive. We will first ensure that there are mechanisms and incentives which stimulate the ability to raise seed capital or to borrow money at a reasonable cost. This will be especially true for people without collateral, starting with a humble amount of savings. We will promote micro finance banking in the USA. We will ensure that government taxes and regulations do not slow down and destroy a fledgling young business. We will provide tremendous support for firms seeking to establish valued added export sales that create new high paying jobs in America. This will include expanding the Export-Import Bank export related loan guarantee programs. We will make extra special efforts to help minorities and women start their own businesses. We will foster the formation of a venture exchange, like Canada, where small companies can access a public stock market exchange to raise capital with less cost and red tape. We will reduce the law suit risks of small companies, and we will reduce the cost of health insurance for small companies.
1. Exports – We will use every tool we can to promote American competitiveness in the World markets and to increase valued added export sales which create new high paying U.S. jobs. We will ensure free and FAIR markets.
1. Education – We are going to implement life long learning for all Americans without increasing costs. You visit an existing library; you read a book. You write a summary. You deposit your own learning credit in the university learning bank of your choice. We are going to empower teachers to run their classrooms based on their judgment. We are going to focus on allowing teachers and parents to have tools and flexibility to motivate students to love the joy of lifelong learning, by getting them engaged. We will advocate for increased salaries for teachers at the local level. We will provide incentives for people to enter the teaching trade, particularly in inner cities and rural districts.
1. Environment – We will implement the GO-POD system of electric cars that can go on and off an electric track system. We will provide incentives for private industry to foot most the bill. We will promote sustainable farming practices and healthy eating. In the future, we will reduce CO2 emissions by 50% as soon as practically possible. We will invest in hydrogen power for cars and hybrids. We will invest in ocean wave energy production systems. We will provide incentives to increase wind, solar, and biofuel power choices.
1. Excellence in Government Services – Less taxes. Fewer regulations. More efficiency. Less waste. A reduced size of Federal Government. Movement of many federal programs to the state, county, and city level. Strong investment in vital public works. Strong investment in science, which create jobs, reduces healthcare costs, reduces energy costs, and improves energy independence. Less red tape and time in receiving government grants for research. Strong investment in air power in the military, including drone aircraft. Reduction of outdated military ground forces and equipment. Less red tape for companies raising capital. Provide even stronger incentives for private charity, where people can be directly connected with the joy of giving and the satisfaction of seeing their hard earned dollars applied to good causes. Americans gave $300 billion to charities last year. We would like to provide incentives and encouragement to increase this to $600 billion in the next five years.
1. Excellence in Health – Healthier foods and promotion of healthy lifestyles. Promotion of exercise by example i.e.; a President who plays roller hockey. We will insist that everyone buy health insurance. For those that cannot afford to buy it, we will find a way to help them buy at least a minimal policy and to get care at selected government subsidized centers. We encourage laws that promote preventative medicine practice. We will develop and implement a plan to use of neighborhood “bare foot” doctors that make house calls to reduce emergency room visits and to promote healthy living and nutrition.
We call our plan the Kindheart Lionheart Plan. Kindheart stands for kindness and compassion. Lionheart stands for courage and strength. The plan is designed to lift ALL Americans. The common ground is helping everyone to be able to help themselves. Helping people to be able to fish themselves instead of just giving them fish – promoting entrepreneurship. The plan calls for aligning the country to the common focused goal of promoting exports to the 97% of potential consumers that live outside of the U.S.A. as a means to bring new income into the USA and to create new high paying jobs. We intend to stimulate charitable giving to increase from $300 billion annually to over $600 billion, with a variety of tools. Provide encouragement and incentives for people to give willingly to those in need, instead of forcing them by the IRS’s badges and guns. We believe that the great compassion of the American people can be tapped to help those in need. You get more flies with honey than with vinegar, as the old saying goes.
We believe in bringing out the best in people by recognizing and expressing appreciation for their strengths and what they do have to offer, rather than focusing on people’s faults and weaknesses.
Included in the first people I have invited to join the “E” Party are; Dan and Claire Marino – our next door neighbors, Rob Thomas of the music group Matchbox Twenty, Cliff Robertson the Oscar and Emmy Award winning Actor (most recently Uncle in Spiderman), Dr. Doris Taylor the leading adult stem cell scientist at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Keith March of the University of Indiana, Dr. Stuart Williams of the University of Louisville, and our other neighbors Bill and Kelly Kelly, Bob and Lorelei Ennis, Scott and Patti House and Gary and Toni Brown. My dad Michael, sister Jennifer and brother David. My cousins Scott, Randy and Brian. I particularly sought out input from Lyndon Stevens and Ulisis Valdez two co-workers. Lyndon is a black American and Ulisis is a legal immigrant from Mexico. All of them have already provided some input into our “E” Party platform.
We hope you will join us as well. The “E” is for You and Me! The Men & Women That Hold High Places Must be the First to Start to Mold a New Reality Closer to the Heart.
Howard J. Leonhardt
Founder The Entrepreneurship Party
Howard J. Leonhardt
Founder, Executive Chairman & CTO of Bioheart, Inc., Sunrise, Florida www.bioheartinc.com
Adult Stem Cells for Repairing Damaged Heart Muscle
Founder, Chairman & CEO Leonhardt Vineyards, Healdsburg, California
Producer of Red Zinfandel Wines
Chairman Lucille's Cafe's, Weston, Florida
40's Style Cafe Diner
Founder & Chairman The Entrepreneurship Party
A Public Policy Institute and Third Political Party
Founder Kindheart Lionhardt Publishing & Media (start up)
Publisher and Retail Seller of Inspirational Books and Movies
Founder & Chairman AortaCell, Inc., Miami, Florida
Adult Stem Cells for Treating Low Blood Flow in Legs and for Repairing Aortic Aneurysms
Board Member; University of Florida Center for Entrepreneurship, Florida International Center for Entrepreneurship and Foundation Board, University of Northern California
Founder, Chairman & CEO World Medical Mfg. Corporation, Sunrise, Florida 1986 to 1999
Vice President, IMA Medical Group (Intl. Marketing Advisors), Fort Lauderdale, Florida 1985-1986
Export Sales Manager, American General Medical Corp., Hardeeville, SC 1982-1984
Export Sales Manager, ExIm International, Minneapolis, MN 1982 internship only
Inventor with 7 patents issued and 5 pending - all cardiovascular therapy related
Primary Inventor Taheri-Leonhardt (TALENT) stent graft for aortic aneurysm repair without surgery, now part of Medtronic, Inc.'s product line up.
Blaine High School, Blaine, MN 1977-1980 Graduated
Anoka Technical College, Minneapolis, MN 1980-1982 Diploma International Trade
Anoka Ramsey College, Coon Rapids, MN 1981
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 1982 one semester only
Honorary Alumni University of Florida 2004
Honorary Doctorate of Biomedical Engineering, University of Northern California 1998
Lifelong Self Study in Sciences, Leadership, Management, Innovation, World Religions