“Great people will always make you money” says Frank Mariani at Summer Growth Summit

September 1, 2023 -  By
(Photo: LM Staff)

(Photo: LM Staff)

It was the moment the entire room of 400-plus attendees was waiting for. After three-plus days of learning, brainstorming and networking, all that was left of the 2023 Summer Growth Summit was a closing discussion with Frank Mariani, executive chairman of Mariani Premier Group, No. 11 on the 2023 LM150 list, and the event’s host, Jeffrey Scott.

“I can’t believe you’re all still here,” Mariani joked as he took the stage. “I can tell you right now, if it were me, I wouldn’t still be here right now.”

Scott compared Mariani to James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, also known as the hardest-working man in show business. Scott said Mariani is the hardest-working man in the lawn care and landscape business. Scott asked Mariani, “Would you say that’s correct?”

“My nickname at work is ‘Relentless.’” Mariani told Scott. “Don’t ask me about work/life balance, because I don’t have it. But I wake up every morning and I love what I do.”

Mariani told Scott he never plans to retire; he’ll work until he dies. To set the tone of how this discussion would go, Mariani described this plan with his favorite cartoon when he was a kid: “The guy turns red, really red, then he blows up and dies. That’s me.”

The crowd erupted in laughter at this thought, while Scott wondered aloud what cartoons Mariani watched as a kid.

The power of people

Mariani talked about the type of people he likes to work with and said that if a person is afraid to make mistakes, he doesn’t want to work with them.

“If people don’t make mistakes, I probably don’t want you (on my team) because you don’t have the curiosity and willingness to take chances, and we wouldn’t be where we are right now without that,” Mariani said.

Scott asked Mariani what kind of mistakes he overlooks at Mariani Landscape. “Ones until I really get pissed off,” he replied.

A common theme of Mariani’s beliefs was that he attributes much of his success to hiring talented people.

“A very good piece of advice is, even when you can’t afford it, if a good person comes walking in the door, hire her or bring him in,” Mariani said. “You’ll find the spot before you know it and you’ll make things better. Come up with a way to make the expense make sense. Great people will always make you money.”

Why he sold

Scott told the room they didn’t need to have a company the size of Mariani’s to implement many of the practices he promoted.

“You don’t have to be humongous to hire bright people,” Scott said, pointing to a business owner in the room who recently hired a new chief operating officer. “He brought in a COO that comes with the experience of running a $100 million manufacturing company. In their first year, they’re already having their best year ever, top and bottom line.”

Mariani said he once asked his dad what was the secret to success. “‘We fix our mistakes,’” is what he replied. “And I said, ‘OK, what’s next?’ He said, ‘No, that’s it.’ Many competitors make mistakes and they don’t stand behind it. It’s that simple.”

As the meeting came to a close, Mariani took over the role of moderator and asked a question he wanted to answer himself — why he sold his company and created Mariani Premier Group.

“The beauty of selling my company is this: I sold it with the purest of heart and mind in that I knew this was the best thing for my team,” he said. “I love my team and I know I can’t be here forever, even though I believe I’ll die at work. But now it goes beyond. And by the way, the team you saw yesterday (at Mariani Landscape) runs this company better than me. That’s exciting to me. I’ve got partners like your brother’s company (Jordy Scott of Glengate), your dad’s company and your own company that can take us to another level.”

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.

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