5 Questions: Frank Mariani

July 18, 2023 -  By
(Photo: Tim Klein Photography)

(Photo: Tim Klein Photography)

Frank Mariani

Chairman, Mariani Premier Group, Lake Bluff, Ill.

1.  You have been a well-known industry leader for decades. But do you think of yourself as a leader?  

I loved the Boy Scouts growing up; I was the senior patrol leader. I was the oldest grandchild. I’ve always assumed a leadership role even when, sometimes, I shouldn’t have. But I’ve never felt adequate in that role. I know there’s so much more I can learn. I like to rely on friends. I like to use consultants. I like to learn from clients who have done extremely well in business. I think when you feel that you’ve accomplished a ‘leadership role,’ you’re dead. If you maintain a curiosity, you’ll do fine.

2.  When hiring, how do you identify great talent? Is there a trick?  

This November, my dad has been gone for 50 years. Basically, since right out of high school, I’ve been running the company. The only reason I still like doing this? Relationships. I have relationships with the associates at Mariani and our sister companies around the country. I have relationships with our clients, and I have relationships with people in the green industry. I love that. When somebody comes in, look for a particular talent that might add something to the company. I believe that most people are honest — with a few exceptions — and I like to trust them. I’ve done pretty well by meeting somebody, looking into their eyes, shaking their hand and trusting them to deliver on what they promise.

3.  What is a memory of your dad that has stuck with you?  

My brothers and I were in grade school. The nuns came in and said, ‘Your dad’s picking you up at 11:30.’ I said, ‘Something bad must have happened for Dad to take us out of school.’ He picks us up, and we drive to the lakefront. ‘Dad, what’s up?’ ‘It’s a customer. I want you to see this project.’ We walk into the backyard. It’s a beautiful estate, a huge mansion. There’s a concrete pad that he poured and here comes a helicopter from the lakefront with a statue. A piece of art comes down and I look at my dad and I said, ‘Dad, this is so cool! We get to see this helicopter drop this piece of art.’ He hits me in the back of the head and goes, ‘No, no, no! This gentleman right here? This man came from Russia, a Jewish immigrant with nothing. He went to school, worked his tail off to get an education, grew his business — because this is the greatest country in the world — and now he has this beautiful estate and a helicopter over it with this piece of art!’ I’ll never forget that. Then I said, ‘OK Dad, now can we go get lunch?’ He said, ‘No, you’re going back to school.’

4.  What sports teams do you root for?  

The Chicago Bears and the White Sox. I love the Blackhawks. I have a few golfers I root for, including Jason Day. I played with him. He’s a true family man. And basketball isn’t my thing, but I like it when the Bulls win. There’s a guy, No. 23, who is a client and a friend. I did enjoy basketball when Michael Jordan was playing, I’ll say that. 

5.  What is the best thing you’ve seen in person, in terms of the performing arts, or a game, etc.?  

I have seen some things I’m very grateful for. I remember once I was in the London House, which is a little restaurant and bar on Rush Street in Chicago. I’ve got a New York strip on my plate. And right across from me — about as close as I am to you right now — B.B. King was playing. It was one of the greatest nights. I love jazz and blues. Another time I was in Albuquerque, I saw Johnny Winter with James Cotton. That was sensational. But I’ve got to say, being in New Orleans when the Bears won their first Super Bowl was a lot of fun

Seth Jones

About the Author:

Seth Jones, a graduate of Kansas University’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, was voted best columnist in the industry in 2014 and 2018 by the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. Seth has more than 23 years of experience in the golf and turf industries and has traveled the world seeking great stories. He is editor-in-chief of Landscape Management, Golfdom and Athletic Turf magazines. Jones can be reached at sjones@northcoastmedia.net.

Comments are currently closed.