Strong Foundations Build a Family Legacy
By Dawn Robinette APR | Photography by Susanne Pack with Celebrated Reflections
Maryanne Guido, CEO of Guido Companies, began her path to a career in construction when she answered a question from her husband, Tom. “He asked: ‘What have you always wanted to do that you never had an opportunity?’ I always felt compelled to exercise both my creative and logical tendencies — right/left brain.” Her answer to that question led her away from her fourth actuarial exam and toward a degree in design. “I went to night school at St. Mary’s University and received an associate degree in interior design,” she explains. This was the beginning of Guido Interiors and her work for clients on interior design and remodeling.
“As a mother of four, I was consistently balancing schedules, priorities, and multi-tasking to get through the day. While challenging, I knew this would not be the only thing that fulfilled me. I was intrigued by how design can influence people’s experience. From the design of a hospital giving patients decency and a high standard of care to how city goods and services are planned and delivered to citizens, I realized somebody had made a decision that had a cascading effect, whether they realized it or not! Intuitively, I have a knack for spatial planning to make spaces flow better. I relish selecting colors and furniture to convey a mood or subtly encourage collaboration or provide space for reflection.”
When Guido Construction built an addition to their office in the early 80s, Maryanne recalls, “my father-in-law said, ‘Maryanne is going to do the Interiors.’” Quickly thereafter, friends solicited her help to renovate their homes and offices. “One project led to another over the next ten years. I’m grateful for my first customers; they gave me the confidence to charge ahead when others doubted my decision to go back to school.”
When Tom, then President of Guido Construction, had an unexpected vacancy and needed a project manager, he asked Maryanne to step in. From there, Tom would tap her prior corporate experience at USAA. “He’d ask me to figure out: ‘Why are our Workman’s Compensation premiums so high? What is driving these costs?’ I tapped into my knowledge of rate making, studied our loss experience, and reviewed our safety record. When I did not have enough information, I went ‘back to school’ and took classes on OSHA Safety Standards.
“Next came operations, human resources, and marketing/business development. If there was a need, I tried to fill it. I strive to be a servant leader and am a fixer by nature. If I see something that is inefficient or ineffective, I inherently want to make it better,” she explains. “I’m an idea person, but I try never to ask a team member to do something I haven’t done myself. I have a passion for developing people as well as constructing great buildings; growing others to be successful excites me!”
As CEO, Guido holds ultimate responsibility for the satisfactory completion of all Guido commitments. Day to day, she is responsible for client relations, business development, strategic planning, operations, and profitability. She also oversees risk management, human resources, and safety/accident prevention. Ultimately, she sees the key to the company’s success as Guido’s team.
“Without a doubt, our greatest resource is our employees. They are the company; it’s not any one person. Day-to-day they make things happen by working hard, using our core values as a guide, and demonstrating the highest level of commitment to bringing our customer’s vision to reality.
“Like every business, we have overcome many challenges by learning to navigate the unknown — a pandemic, a recession, shortages — with faith that the future will be better. It is very exciting when you have a successful project, or you win a new pursuit, but what shapes you most are the challenges overcome along the way. In a leadership role, you step back and take care of your people first.
“I am a critical thinker but also a very passionate and empathetic person. I have learned over the years to control my instinctive response, whether it be joy, anger, frustration, or concern. I analyze the problem and determine possible ways to resolve the issue.”
Her approach is rooted in a question her first boss posed to her years ago. “We were on this big project, and my boss said to me, ‘Maryanne, is it your ego or your objective that’s at stake?’ I’ve always gone back to that. You need to put your ego aside. It’s not about being right. It’s about doing the right thing. It’s not about winning. It is about doing the right thing. That has always guided me.”
If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.
Maryanne believes that “team” is key to making the right decisions.
“Surround yourself with intelligent and highly motivated people, trust their opinions and allow them to challenge yours. If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. Make the best decision you can with the information available at that time. I rarely rush into a course of action before confirming that the decision aligns with our strategic plan and our organization’s core values.
“We have an incredible executive management team with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Learn to listen to people you trust to find the signal through the noise and make intelligent decisions.”
She’s a life-long learner. “I believe my life is a journey to complete myself. I commit to self-improvement and growing to be the best version of myself. I am self-disciplined and set high goals for myself. For me, that means I have faith, focus on my family, eat well, exercise often, and spend time reflecting while taking time for rest and relaxation. I am high energy which translates to: work hard, play hard, and always try to have fun doing it.”
The company’s team and clients help keep her fueled. “I love what we do. There is something new every day, and I love the people we work with and for. We have been fortunate to have many interesting clients who want to create great things. Building their vision is what excites us.”
When Tom Guido was just beginning his career, he served as the project manager for Guido for the historic renovation and adaptive reuse to create the San Antonio Museum of Art. That project fueled the company’s future direction. “We realized that it takes vision and passion to build something great, and that changed the trajectory of our company. Tom coined the phrase that became the cornerstone of Guido: ‘Building Visions: To see what is, to see what was, is only half as great a triumph as to see what could be!’”
That vision has helped shape the landscape of San Antonio, including the renovation of the historic 1892 San Antonio City Hall, which has received ten national awards to date, including the highly coveted 2022 BUILD AMERICA AWARD from the Associated General Contractors of America.
“We are proud and honored to be involved in these kinds of projects in San Antonio. Museums, historic restorations, adaptive reuse of old buildings, and many other projects like these bring joy and fun to our community, like SeaWorld, Hardberger Park, and the San Antonio Zoo.
“San Antonio has been our home for now five generations. So being involved in our community, being good stewards of our city, and giving back to our community has always been very important to us.”
The Guido family began building in Texas in the early 1920s. The historic San Francesco di Paola Church and Parish Hall, built in 1927 in downtown San Antonio, is the first major project bearing founder, Louis L. Guido’s name. Trained in Italy as a master carpenter, Tom’s grandfather’s reputation grew with projects like the San Pedro Playhouse and restoration to the Mission San José. In 1936, Louis Guido formed a new partnership with his brother Frank Guido and began work as Guido Brothers Construction Company. “What Tom’s grandfather and father did from relatively very humble beginnings is truly amazing.”
Safeguarding that legacy is something she focused on before joining the company. “One thing I was concerned about was the high failure rate for family businesses in the third generation. So even before I was involved in the business, I researched why they fail and how we might prevent that failure. What could Tom and I do to make sure that that doesn’t happen and be good stewards of what has come before us.”
They sacrificed a lot and worked very hard to accomplish what they have. “I am pleased to say not only did we succeed in avoiding that outcome, but we have been blessed with success. Our companies have grown dramatically over the past fifteen years. We have never been more bullish on the future of Guido Companies.” The management team and next generation of leaders are now strongly entrenched as the future of the companies. Three of the couple’s four children work in one of the Guido businesses. “They have always heard the dinner table conversations, listened, and learned. They really care and take a great sense of pride in the people that have come before us and have accomplished so much.”
“Tom and I were blessed with wonderful parents and role models. They taught us how to work hard, face challenges and have fun; they had the highest integrity. This was our foundation, the foundation of our company and our family.”