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Vineyard partner becomes 'CEO for a day' at Harrisburg-area developerJob swap continues Thursday with Ralph Vartan as "Merlot Mike"

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Mike Wilson, named acting CEO at Vartan Group Inc. for the day on Monday, gets comfortable in CEO Ralph Vartan's office.
Mike Wilson, named acting CEO at Vartan Group Inc. for the day on Monday, gets comfortable in CEO Ralph Vartan's office. "Merlot Mike" will give up his duties on Thursday as Vartan dons the famous purple suit at The Vineyard & Brewery at Hershey, where Wilson is a partner. - (Photo / )

Mike Wilson didn't exactly paint the town purple — or even a shade of merlot — as he swapped jobs for the day on Monday with Ralph Vartan, CEO of Susquehanna Township-based Vartan Group Inc.

Nonetheless, "Merlot Mike" - a nickname derived from the purple suit Wilson wears in his marketing role at The Vineyard & Brewery at Hershey - brought his signature style to the development company, if only for a few hours.

Wilson toured construction sites in Harrisburg to check on their progress. He met with tenants and Vartan staff to go over upcoming company projects — including Vartan's proposed Susquehanna Union Green project in Susquehanna Township. And he joked about buying neighboring office buildings and changing the name of the mixed-use Union Green project. For the record, he prefers Union Purple.

But before the ink dried on any of those plans, Wilson's day in charge was over. Vartan played the role of executive assistant for the day and helped Wilson prepare for the day's meetings. 

The two men first met in 2006 through Harrisburg Young Professionals. Over the past several months, they have been discussing the idea of swapping roles for a day, curious about the other's day-to-day responsibilities. 

For Vartan, the day usually begins early and includes visiting construction sites in the Harrisburg area and meeting with staff.

His firm has multiple renovation projects underway in the city, including a historic rehabilitation project at 234 State St. The three-story office building will soon be home to Communities In Schools, a dropout prevention organization.

On Thursday, Vartan will don the purple suit at the Londonderry Township winery/brewery as he steps into Wilson's role for the day. 

Vartan also will have to change suits to step into Wilson's other job, as vice president of relationship management at Members 1st Federal Credit Union. He will split his time in both roles throughout the day.

Here's a look at part of today's swap. Follow @JScottJournal on Thursday for Vartan's swap. And don't miss other social media posts from the guys @hrvartan and @Merlot_Mike

Being Ralph Vartan

A few videos from the day

Mike Wilson, center, acting CEO of Vartan Group Inc., meets with attorney David Tshudy and Vartan executive vice president Nicole Borda Conway. Vartan is preparing for a planning commission meeting to present land development plans for its Susquehanna Union Green project.
Mike Wilson, center, acting CEO of Vartan Group Inc., meets with attorney David Tshudy and Vartan executive vice president Nicole Borda Conway. Vartan is preparing for a planning commission meeting to present land development plans for its Susquehanna Union Green project. - (Photo / )
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Mike Wilson, center, acting CEO of Vartan Group Inc., meets with attorney David Tshudy and Vartan executive vice president Nicole Borda Conway. Vartan is preparing for a planning commission meeting to present land development plans for its Susquehanna Union Green project. - (Photo / Jason Scott) Mike Wilson, left, listens as Vartan Group Inc. attorney David Tshudy reviews the company's land development plan for Susquehanna Union Green. - (Photo / Jason Scott) Ralph Vartan, left, played the role of executive assistant as Mike Wilson led his company, Vartan Group Inc., for the day. - (Photo / Jason Scott) Mike Wilson, center, meets with Vartan Group staff to go over site preparations for Sunday's Midtown Bonfire & Pop-up Biergarten event at Front and Verbeke streets in Harrisburg. - (Photo / Jason Scott) Vartan Group Inc.'s Brian Goodyear, left, goes over a site plan with acting CEO Mike Wilson for the company's office renovation at 215 Pine St. in Harrisburg, which is being renovated for Bravo Group. - (Photo / Jason Scott) Mike Wilson, right, meets with architect Kurt Oravecz of KD3 Design Studio, center, and tenants Morgan Stier and Aaron Rodriguez for a consultation. Stier and Rodriguez are planning a renovation project at their loft unit in the 1500 Condominium in Midtown Harrisburg. - (Photo / Jason Scott) Mike Wilson prepares for a brief press conference at Cafe 1500 to announce that the Harrisburg restaurant will now be open regularly on Mondays. Cafe 1500 is inside the 1500 Condominium that Vartan Group Inc. developed. - (Photo / Jason Scott) The job swap included a quick stop at Wendy's. - (Photo / Jason Scott) Staff reporter Jason Scott, left, followed Mike Wilson and Ralph Vartan on Monday for a job swap. Vartan will fill Wilson's shoes on Thursday at Members 1st Federal Credit Union and the Vineyard & Brewery at Hershey. - (Photo / Jason Scott)

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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