William Mandara is the CEO of Mancini Duffy, a “full-service design firm specializing in architecture, planning and interior design.” The company has its headquarters in New York City, with a branch office in Millburn, New Jersey. For its work, the company harnesses a century’s worth of expertise, which it complements with a “contemporary entrepreneurial spirit and technological skill, delivering innovative solutions for the commercial, education, financial and professional services, retail, sports, and tech and media sectors.”
Among William Mandara and Mancini Duffy’s clients are “Somerset Development, Normandy Real Estate Partners, Vision Real Estate Partners, Guardian Life Insurance, Jersey Central Power & Light, Energy Capital Partners, Commvault, Pinnacle Foods Inc. and Sills Cummis & Gross.”
Before leading Mancini Duffy, William Mandara grew up in the business, as he worked for his father every summer during his teenage years. As a general contractor, his father worked on job sites, and he would give William “the worst jobs to do.” He says that it was his father’s “way of steering [me] away from the construction industry and towards architecture school.”
After architecture school, William Mandara worked at TSC Design in New Jersey until it was acquired by Mancini Duffy in 2011. In 2014, he was named senior associate, and then principal in 2017. Finally, William became the company owner in 2017, and he was named CEO the year after.
At Mancini Duffy, William Mandara brings more than 20 years of experience in architectural design to his work. He also has a deep understanding of construction, having worked in the field as well.
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Work is important however it can’t be everything in life. It’s important to make time for things that are fun and make you happy to help you maintain balance. William Mandara, Mancini Duffy
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
William Mandara: We listen to everyone’s ideas and encourage entrepreneurism. We have multiple people at Mancini who have expressed interest in specializing in different aspects of business — from technology to interior design to aviation — and we’ve encouraged and supported their endeavors into these new areas of expertise, which has ultimately helped the firm grow tremendously.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
William Mandara: Work is important however it can’t be everything in life. It’s important to make time for things that are fun and make you happy to help you maintain balance. I’m fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with my family who always make me happy. Beyond that, activities like playing music, cooking, and even golf help give me an outlet to keep me and my mind fresh.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
William Mandara: Early in my career, it became apparent that there was far more for me to learn about architecture than what I learned in college. I had the pleasure of working with my great friend, David Lesesne, who was already an accomplished architect. David took the time to patiently work with me and show me how to put together a quality set of drawings. He has taught me too many other lessons to list!
A good company is a stable one that does fine work, turns a profit, and has little employee turnover. A great company is one that does all those things, but also does something special to enrich the lives of its clients and employees and has a sustainable path for the future. William Mandara, Mancini Duffy
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
William Mandara: A good company is a stable one that does fine work, turns a profit, and has little employee turnover.
A great company is one that does all those things, but also does something special to enrich the lives of its clients and employees and has a sustainable path for the future. A great company is somewhere that people look forward to doing their jobs and clients look forward to working with them.
Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a stand still? From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
William Mandara: In order to boost growth, I recommend to go back and re-examine the basics. Why does your company exist? Is it still relevant? Have you stayed true to your values? Keep in mind that it is possible to stay true to your mission while still evolving.
Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
William Mandara: Being proactive and not reactionary is critical to not lose traction during a difficult economy. As leaders, it’s important to look beyond your own personal needs to evaluate what is best for the company. Beyond just surviving, there are always opportunities — even in the darkest most challenging times and circumstances — though they may not always be obvious. It’s easy to get caught up in just surviving, however, good leaders will look for these opportunities to keep forging ahead.
As leaders, it’s important to look beyond your own personal needs to evaluate what is best for the company.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
William Mandara: Being of service and recognizing people’s accomplishments tend to be the most underestimated aspects of running a company. For example, I’ve seen too many people think that being in charge means you get to assign work and receive the credit, when in fact it’s really the opposite.
Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
William Mandara: To create a “wow experience” the key is to understand it’s not about you, it’s about the customer.
Trying to do too much by yourself is the most common mistakes CEOs make. William Mandara
Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
William Mandara: Depending on your business, social media can mean different things. For us, we try to make our social media a true reflection of who we are as a company, both as individuals and collectively.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
William Mandara: Trying to do too much by yourself is the most common mistakes CEOs make. It’s imperative to find people you trust and then trust and empower them to do the things at which they’re great.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
William Mandara: Be yourself — all the time — it’s much easier than pretending to be who you think everyone wants you to be. You’ll be much happier and have a lot more fun.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
William Mandara: You can follow Mancini Duffy on:
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!