Family Business Magazine has named Mariah Gratz as one of their 28 Extraordinary Family Business CEOs To Watch in 2020. Mariah is a second-generation CEO and is featured in the magazine’s November/December issue.
Originally responsible for leading a cross-functional development team in the planning, design and construction of urban real estate development projects, Gratz held leadership positions in several departments of the organization before becoming Weyland Ventures’ CEO.
Weyland Ventures is a multidisciplinary real estate development firm known for creating mixed-use properties in urban areas across the nation. In Louisville, the firm is known for challenging historic renovations and iconic projects such as the 10-story baseball bat at the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum, The Henry Clay and the Glassworks District. She has expertise in real estate financing mechanisms such as historic tax credits, new market tax credits, tax increment financing and economic development incentives.
Gratz holds degrees in biomedical engineering as well as an MBA. She started her career in a corporate setting at a company outside Boston and returned to Louisville to join her family business in April 2009. She became CEO in 2016. Today she works with her parents, siblings and husband along with dozens of non-family team members.
“Mariah has brought her previous experience as a biomedical engineer and project manager to help her family business succeed,” says Isabel Botero, director of the Family Business Center and an associate professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Louisville. “From previous experiences she learned that understanding processes and being adaptable to the environment can help any business survive and excel. The resilience that she learned as an engineer has helped her continuously adapt to the changing environment.
“From her outside experience, she also learned the importance of teamwork. Although she is the CEO, she works with her siblings as a team to ensure the future of their business and their family legacy in the city of Louisville.”
“One of the impressive things about Mariah is that she came into a family business that was almost wholly associated with her dad,” says Rebecca Matheny, executive director of the Louisville Downtown Partnership. “She has worked extremely well with her siblings to carry that legacy forward, but at the same time, really put an individual stamp on what she sees as the vision.”
In addition, “She has taken civic responsibility very, very seriously and has been involved in a number of local organizations that are all doing very important economic development work,” Matheny says.
At the same time, “She has two really small children, and her husband works for the company as well. They seem to have navigated that very, very well.
“I can’t imagine where she’s going to be in five years.”
“Weyland Ventures is an organization created to plan, design and develop unique and special urban places,” Gratz says. “We believe great urban places require long-term vision. We imagine thriving neighborhoods where others can’t and leverage our decades of planning, design and development expertise to make them happen.
“The key for us is to think long-term. I think this is something private family businesses generally excel in versus publicly traded companies.
“I am blessed to work every day with my father, brothers, sister, mother and husband. Coming from a corporate background, it took time for me to accept that the family and the business go hand in hand and can’t be separated. This is our greatest strength and our Achilles heel. I work to make sure the family is proud of the business and that our employee team is proud of the family.”
See Family Business Magazine’s list here.