We had the good fortune of connecting with Rico Mandel and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Rico, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I found that as an entrepreneur risk taking is just part of life. It takes a certain personality type to have enough faith and confidence in yourself and your ideas to be able to go out and start your own business. For me it’s been part of my life from the beginning. I wanted to go into business for myself. I never really saw myself working for someone else. Of course I have worked for other people but that was pretty short lived. Most of my life I’ve had my own business and somehow I’ve made it through. Part of risk-taking is to stay ahead of things. To always be educating myself in my business and industry and the industries of my clients. Personal growth has also been a part of being able to take risks, to truly know myself, what my strengths and weaknesses are. My particular strengths are management and connecting with people. I’m a relationship kinda guy, I like people and enjoy hearing their stories and talking to them about their business and also personal lives. I’m also creative and an idea guy so I use those strengths to communicate with the people I work with as well as my clients to help them. I know what my weaknesses are and get people who are great at my weaknesses to fill in so I can have a business that runs well. One of my weaknesses is execution – it takes me a lot longer to get some things done for clients than many other people so I have people who take care of the execution of projects, management of them and scheduling which comes naturally to them and they enjoy. In the end if I wasn’t willing or able to take the risks of finding the right people, knowing myself and being honest with myself then I wouldn’t have the business that I have or the relationships that I have. I’ve always said you’ve gotta be willing to just jump in and try things so you can see if they will work or not. Risk is also about being ok with failing. You’ve gotta be willing to fail and know that failure is the way you learn. If your not learning from your mistakes then you’re bound to repeat them over and over again. And yet that’s also the fastest path to success, since the more you fail or have setbacks the more you learn and you can take that knowledge and create something great within your vision. Remember it all starts with the first step to just having an idea, writing it down, talking about it with others and being open to their input then taking the input that makes sense to you and giving it a shot and then refining things and eventually you’ll attain the goal you set out to achieve. 

What should our readers know about your business?
I do marketing and advertising for industrial manufacturers and job shops. It’s something I kinda fell into about 32 years ago coming from a photography background. I started my career going after photography coming out working for an ad agency. My first client was a knife manufacturer and I started out doing photography for him and just letting my imagination go in creating the photos of his knives, which were mostly military and sports knives. from there he asked me to make ads for him and product sheets and eventually catalogs. At first, I was using my friends from the ad agency to help me with artwork etc… then I got hooked up with a printer to print the product sheets and catalogs etc… and through that experience, I learned all about the graphic arts and printing side of the business. I really liked making the full package for my clients. I also learned how to sell from a friend of mine. I loved knowing how things were made and heavy industry and wanted to photograph those shops etc… so I started calling manufacturing companies out of the yellow pages. -starting at the letter A and working my way to Z in a particular area Yellow Page and then I’d find another one from another area and do the same thing. I started getting work from these guys and noticed that in many cases the stuff they had before I came along looked very bad and plain. I was able to create beautiful photography from a different perspective than what they were used to. I made their shops and processes look good, dynamic, and interesting. Through my experience, I found that I had a real knack for marketing and how to get to the heart of what a company did and what they were best at. I was able to create marketing messages for them that really spoke to their customer base which is what my clients recognize in me to this day. Some of the challenges have been that this market is very conservative so anytime there has been a turndown in the economy the manufacturers were the first ones to pull or slow down their advertising which was always a problem. The biggest challenge for me was when the dot com bubble burst and within a very short period of time I lost a number of clients some who just went out of business. and others who just stopped doing any marketing, then 911 hit and that really set things back for me for a while. Some of the lessons I learned were about expanding my business too fast which increased my overhead that made it more difficult to operate when the economy changed. So now I watch my overhead very closely. Another thing that I learned was not to be afraid to take a stand in business for the type of work you do best. I know manufacturing very well. I know their audience, their processes, the equipment, materials etc… and I love it. I’ve come to embrace that and know that I can’t be all things to all businesses. My main goal is to help as many businesses succeed as I can by being of service to them with my marketing expertise. I stick with the niche that I am best at because when I veer out of it my work becomes much more difficult. By specializing in this niche it’s actually made my business life better and easier. Lastly, I also learned that I am the one who drives the marketing for my clients not them. I realized this a while ago that most of my clients in this niche are great at what they do but many of them don’t understand marketing or how it works, they just know they need it. So I switched from having them tell me what they want and how they want it to me bringing my expertise to the table and developing ongoing marketing programs for them and also executing those programs so they don’t need to worry aobut it and the marketing gets done, the leads come in and they are happy because they don’t need to spend a bunch of time doing it or figuring it out.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
What a great question. Let’s assume that we’re past Covid and everything is opened up again. There are so many places that I would explore with my friend. I would definitely spend time in a couple of museums such as the museum of science and industry and the natural history museum in Exposition park. Possibly the Peterson auto museum and maybe the Getty. Venice beach would be a must as well as a walk around the canals. We would definitely spend some time hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains. Also probably walk around DTLA and check out all it has to offer. Maybe even take in a walking tour with the LA Conservancy. Of course, we’d go to Hollywood as well as Little Tokyo, China Town and Olvera Street and walk around a bit. As far as eating. – Ocean Seafood for dim sum in China Town, Colori Kitchen for the best Italian food in DTLA, The Original Pantry for breakfast, Figaro Bistro, Canters Kibbitz room for happy hour followed by Canters for dinner, We’d spend some time out at Cornell Winery and do some wine tasting followed by dinner at The Old Place. If we could take in a play at the music center that would be great and the Charcuterie board and martinis at Kendalls Brasserie is always a treat. Churros at Mr Churro on Olvera Street are the best. We’d also spend a day wine tasting in Santa Ynez area. If they are into it Disneyland is always a fun place to go. Definitely plenty of places to hang out and probably many I’m not thinking of.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are many people who have shaped my success. Some who I know personally and others who I”ve just listened to their podcasts, read their blogs or taken their workshops. In short my journey has not been alone nor will it continue alone.

Website: www.thericogroup.com/industrial – also www.mizenplace.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mizenplace/ and https://www.instagram.com/ricomandelphoto/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ricomandel/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mizenplace and https://twitter.com/ricomandel
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thericogroupLA and https://www.facebook.com/MizEnPlace
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCK0-oQlpknbaLHofbRH081Q/featured and https://www.youtube.com/user/TheRicoGroup/videos

Image Credits
All image credits – © Rico Mandel

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.