Now in our 14th year, we at Friends of Hawaii Robotics believe experience matters

Leonard (Lenny) Klompus created and organized the robotics 501(c)(3) efforts in 2006. Today, he oversees each and every project on a daily basis.

Those who have worked with him over his 40+ year career know him to be an innovative, imaginative, no-nonsense leader. His flair in making each activity special and unique has been his hallmark since graduating from the University of Maryland with a degree in Communications. He has also been labeled a “possible-est” due in part to his mantra that everything is possible which mirrors his WIT (Whatever It Takes) business acumen.

Lenny started his career in media, working as one of the first broadcast marketing directors in Washington, D.C. for a group of radio stations. After 18 months, he started an in-house advertising agency for a chain of 22 -different style- restaurants. Quickly this one-man shop transitioned into his own advertising agency and soon had a growing list of clients including the sports department at his alma mater. One of the first commercials he wrote, produced and directed for the football program won an ADDY Award. He went on to assist the 1973 Terrapins to be invited to their first NCAA bowl in decades.

Then lightning struck. When the Notre Dame basketball contract was falling apart the night before the game with Maryland, Lenny jumped in and helped produce and syndicate via independent televisions stations the game between the Maryland Terrapins and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. It was a success and subsequently, Lenny’s firm won Notre Dame’s basketball and football television rights. You might remember the Notre Dame replays: “With further action in the quarter…“

This syndication success was all before ESPN was a household name. In fact, he produced games on his own independent broadcast network and simultaneously aired them on ESPN. In 1984, ESPN garnished its largest television rating (8.4) for Hawaii’s first bowl game produced by Lenny’s company. This top-line rating and recognition was held until ESPN took over the NFL rights.

A prominent Sports Illustrated journalist called him a “pioneer” in the early ’80s when he orchestrated the first sporting event to be broadcast on network television and a relatively-new cable systems simultaneously called ESPN. Later called an “impresario” by a DC newspaper, Lenny worked with the original USA Network to produce and broadcast the first live basketball game from Japan. He also owned the rights and subsequently syndicated and produced Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s last football game at the Liberty Bowl.

His company also produced baseball, basketball, hockey and other special events across the country for over two decades. He also was the first person/company to ensure sporting events were closed-captioned for the hearing-impaired. A news conference at the Washington, DC Press Club was recorded as using innovation to bring sports to those who could only watch. Now, closed captioning is common-place on television.

Lenny went on to help start the Aloha Bowl (originally the Pineapple Bowl in 1978) in 1982 alongside the legendary Mackay Yanagisawa, the “shogun of Hawaii sports.” Lenny’s company owned the event through 1999 raising awareness for sports in Hawaii, while garnishing millions of dollars and recognition for the state. One headline in the old Honolulu Advertiser credited the game with having a $100 million positive impact to the state.