Ask Paul Viviano to tell you the secret to his success helming metro Detroit’s largest florist, and he’ll immediately point to his family.
Viviano is the chief executive officer of Viviano Flower Shop, which grew from a small operation started by his grandfather in 1937 to a household name today, with 135 employees in five locations. One brother, Peter, is president, overseeing purchasing, merchandizing and product development, while another brother, Frank, is vice president, managing operations and events.
“I’m usually the behind-the-scenes guy, and I try to stay unnoticed,” says Viviano, who focuses on planning and control.
Viviano and his siblings grew up working in the family business.
“As soon as I was old enough to hold a broom, my dad had me sweeping and cleaning and helping to plant things,” he says. Viviano graduated from Hillsdale College with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and business administration and then earned a master’s degree in finance from Walsh College. He began working for the company full-time in 1983.
“My dad had a great program,” he says. “He had me go into a department and examine it, work in it, reorganize it. So I was in every department and I learned everything.”
Vivano worked closely with his father until his death in 2000 at age 62.
“My father was very creative, like my brother, Frank,” he says. “He was a great carpenter. He had a very charming personality and a great number of friends. “My dad was the face of the business and my job was to make the engine work— making sure the quality of the product was good,” he adds. “My dad and I were a great team that way, and together we grew the business quite a bit.”
Along the way, Viviano and his siblings have given back as members of Greater Detroit NACE, the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau and local chambers of commerce. When asked what he does for hobbies, Viviano laughs.
“I work,” he says. “When I get the chance, I sleep. I golf when I can, and I really enjoy reading; I particularly like history and biographies.”
Viviano and his siblings have an eye toward the future, and are talking to their children to see who might be interested in succeeding them.
“Otherwise it’s doing what we do best,” he says. “My father used to say, ‘We’re going to do the best we can and leave the rest to God.’ That attitude is still what guides me and my brothers.”