MCM: How did growing up in Flint shape your worldview and fuel your aspirations?
PM: Growing up in a blue collar town definitely shaped my work ethic. I watched people work 12-hour days with this ‘grind it out’ mentality that everyone lived by. Most people in our community worked in the auto industry – it was booming. My father and brother worked in the auto industry. Growing up middle class/lower-middle class made me appreciate and take care of the things I had; going out to eat was special. I was taught the value of a dollar. My parents pushed me to do things the right way, no matter what I was doing.
MCM: What person has made the biggest impact on your life?
PM: There are two – my mother and my father. They taught me respect, the importance of a work ethic, diversity and loyalty. My father was a perfectionist who instilled in me the importance of quality work. If I cut the grass unevenly, he made me do it again. He taught me to always be presentable – no matter what I’m doing or where I’m going. I learned at a young age to appreciate and relate to different types of people, and that has helped me in my personal life and in my career, as well. I feel very fortunate to have had that type of upbringing.
MCM: What are your thoughts about the revitalization of your home town?
PM: I think Flint definitely has a storied history to be proud of – all the way back in the 1800s, to being a prominent lumber town to being prominent in the auto industry. Tim Herman (CEO – Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce) and Phil Hagerman (CEO – Diplomat Pharmacy) are very passionate about our city and highlighting what Flint has to offer. People from Flint have visited Detroit to learn best practices in the revitalization of a city. It takes people who care with a vision, like Herman and Hagerman, to rally people around the cause.
MCM: Do you have a motto that you try to live by?
PM: Yes, I call it PAL – passion, affection, loyalty. I carry this motto with me in my personal and professional lives.
MCM: How did you come up with that?
PM: I’m often asked the question, “What’s led to your success?” I wanted something that defined me as a person and that has led to my success as individual and in my career. After putting some thought into it, I came up with PAL. It really describes who I am.
MCM: What do you do for fun?
PM: I exercise daily and I keep up with all the things my children are involved with. My sons play college football – one for the University of Miami and one for Grand Valley State University. My eldest daughter played softball, basketball and volleyball, and worked for Tom Izzo before she graduated from Michigan State University. My youngest daughter is a competitive dancer. I love watching my children excel and succeed in different things.
MCM: Your generosity toward the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Flint is well-known. What drives you to support the organization?
PM: Coming from Flint, and with everything that the city taught me, I feel a strong desire to give back. So many people in Flint were loyal to me, gave me opportunities, and instilled values in me. It’s important to instill these values in children at a young age, to start early. Whether it’s helping monetarily, speaking to the kids, being involved in events, or getting others involved, it all works toward shaping kids into successful people and strong citizens. A lot of the kids in the Boys & Girls Clubs don’t have the benefit of two parents and/or the community that I had growing up. Kids need support and mentoring to develop. I recognize how instrumental it was in my success, so I like to help provide that to children who don’t otherwise have the opportunity.
MCM: What is a typical day like at the helm of Fathead?
PM: Answering a lot of emails and taking a lot of meetings. In meetings, people present strategies and decisions that have to be made. I’m frequently involved in the financial side of the business – cash flow, profitability, product pricing, etc. – working with the COO and CFO. I manage company relations, which involves a lot of conversations with our team members, and working through any issues with them, positive or negative. Outside the office, I meet with people who want to do business with Fathead and analyze the prospect of their ideas. I also do a lot of public speaking – I was proud to give the commencement speech at SVSU last spring and will also speak at the SVSU Alumni Association. I am excited about being the keynote speaker at BOSS – Business of Success Beyond Sports – during the week of Super Bowl 2015 in Arizona. I also speak to different Quicken Loans Family of Companies about various aspects of leadership.
MCM: What do you feel that you do best?
PM: I have the ability to connect really well with team members and other leaders, coach people through difficult situations and opportunities that arise, leading through adversity.
MCM: What advice would you give future entrepreneurs?
PM: An idea is only as good as your ability to execute it and surround yourself with the right people who can help you achieve it. If you have a great idea, but not the right people, you won’t be able to execute. I also stress commitment – staying the course through adversity. A lot of challenges will arise early on and people will try to find reasons why your idea won’t work; but if you truly believe that it will work, you have to have what I call “stick-to-it-iveness.” Surrounding yourself with the right people will help you stick through tough times. ♦