George Lindemann sees clearly what other people don’t—trends on the cusp of breaking, from the soft contact lens to cable television to cellular phones to Spanish-language radio. But he has viewed himself as a dabbler—someone who loves ideas and innovations, no matter what the field. Few entrepreneurs can match the diversity of his successes.
Initially Lindemann earned his Wharton degree and went home to New York to work in his father’s cosmetics and hair care firm. While there, he noticed the baby-boom era surge in the need for pharmaceutical and medical products and decided to branch out into that market.
That led to Permalens, the first permanent wear soft contact lens, which Lindemann developed and marketed. He sold that contact lens business to Cooper Labs in 1971 for $60 million. His next investments were equally prescient. His Vision Cable Communications was among the first cable television firms in the Northeast and the South. He became the CEO and president of Metro Mobile Communications, Inc., one of the largest specialized mobile and cellular radio dispatch companies in the country. Bell Atlantic acquired it in 1992 for $2.6 billion.
Though he could have easily retired, having moved to Palm Beach, FL, and become part of the social scene there, Lindemann saw other fields in which to lead. He became the chairman and CEO of Southern Union Company, one of the largest natural gas pipeline companies in the United States. Seeing the upsurge of Latin American immigrants coming to live in America, he bought and managed a string of Spanish-language radio stations as well. Lindemann’s energy doesn’t stop with business. His 180-foot schooner Adela won the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in 2005 at Porto Cervo, Italy.