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Vineyard partner becomes ‘CEO for a day’ at Harrisburg-area developer

Job swap continues Thursday with Ralph Vartan as "Merlot Mike"

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

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