By Christine Imbs
admits he’s not the most experienced marketer in the world.
“I grew up
practicing law for crying out loud,” he says with a laugh. “And
yet one of the things I’ve done best in my professional life,
if not the best, is build a marketing firm. It’s ironic isn’t
but hardly surprising. As a co-founder and principal in the St.
Louis law firm of Behr, Mantovani, McCarter and Potter, P.C.,
he spent a number of years advising others on how to build their
businesses. Now as president and CEO of St. Louis-based NSI Marketing
Services he’s putting his own advice to the test.
exception of my law firm, I’d never really done this before,”
he admits. “So I accepted the position with NSI, because I saw
it as a challenge and a great opportunity. I have to say it’s
been very satisfying and hugely educational.”
took over as CEO in 2000. At the time NSI was a 50-person company
with about $5.5 million in revenue. Today the company employs
325 people located in offices in St. Louis, Los Angeles, Chicago,
New York, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Its clients include Ford Motor
Company, Harley Davidson, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Suzuki and locally,
Anheuser-Busch InBev, UniGroup and now Rawlings. This year the
company expects to earn $43 million in revenue.
says his success is due in part because he was able by necessity
to check his ego at the door.
to people who knew more about marketing than I did,” he explains.
“Frankly had I taken over a law firm instead of a marketing firm,
I believe I would have been less successful because I would have
thought I knew all the answers. But in this case, I didn’t and
I knew I didn’t. So I listened to people and I hope I exercised
good judgment. It’s funny how in an area where you have less expertise
you can achieve more if you’re open to other people’s points of
admits most people in his stage of life wouldn’t have made the
decision to change careers. But then they didn’t have Pat.
“I give my
wife, Pat, all the credit for this one,” he says. “We had one
child in junior high and one in high school, so college was right
around the corner. With me as a partner in a law firm we were
comfortable. So making this move was a big risk. She was willing
to allow me to take it and she supported me all the way. And it
couldn’t have worked out better.”
In July, Mantovani
took over as the new chairman of the board for the Partnership
for Downtown St. Louis. He sees it as an opportunity to not only
help continue the downtown renaissance, but to help generate pride
for the City and St. Louisans in whom it may be lacking.
“I think we
as St. Louisans need to be more positive about all the good stuff
that’s going on here,” he says. “So often I find St. Louisans
are either embarrassed or unwilling to acknowledge progress. One
of the things I hope we’re able to do through the Partnership
is change this.”
discussed the reason in a speech given in July when taking over
as chairman of the Partnership. He referred to downtown St. Louis
as “the central asset within our region” that binds us together.
He said he agreed that the neighborhoods are important, but stressed
that “the viability of downtown St. Louis has the ability to affect
the standing of the community beyond its boundaries.” If downtown
progress is allowed to die, Mantovani believes the region can’t
possibly achieve its potential.
“We need to
change St. Louisans point of view about the City. We need to make
them see the tremendous potential here and what it means for us
as a region,” he says. “A lot of work has been done, but I think
there’s a lot more to do. But with the Partnership for Downtown
St. Louis, I’m excited about the future.”
Wife, Pat; 3 children (Gina, Joseph, & Clare)
EDUCATION: Law degree, University of Missouri–Columbia;
MBA, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Business
CURRENT BOOKS: “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara;
“The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt” by Edmund Morris; “Adams”
by David McCullough.
FAVORITE MUSICIANS: “My taste is rather eclectic:
Alan Jackson, Frank Sinatra and the Rolling Stones.”
HOBBY: Collecting signed documents from historical
figures. His collection includes signatures from every president
except Barack Obama.
RELAXATION: Running and being with his family.
TRAVEL: Their place in Marco Island in Florida. “It’s
a Jimmy Buffet kind of place.”