Peg Mativi remembers well her first visit to an art museum.
She was in the third grade when she made the trip with classmates.
I was scolded by the teacher because I wouldnt hurry along, says Mativi, CEO of SOLUTIONS Staffing. I just looked around and saw all these beautiful things.
Even now, she continues to surround herself with this passion. Her collection of art she favors contemporary pieces has drawn tours from the Columbus Museum of Arts Sessions Society to her Upper Arlington home.
Her creativity continues in other facets of her life: Probably my biggest release is cooking, she says.
Gourmet cooking, in fact. She and some friends started a gourmet club that meets every other month. She leans toward doing entrée-type dishes and dabbles with fusion cuisine the melding of several unusual tastes, such as Asian and French.
Her business partner and company president, Mary Iannarino, says Mativi has been involved in artistic or creative projects throughout the 25 years theyve been friends.
She plays that down, but its amazing her creative abilities, Iannarino says.
Its Iannarino and not Mativi, in fact, who points out that Mativi designed the North Columbus office building for the business the two founded in 1980.
Art chosen by Mativi adorns the hallways, and more is to come.
Earlier this year, Mativi chaired the Business Arts Partnership awards for the Greater Columbus Arts Council, where shes served on the board for six years.
At the end of the event, she took a look around, dismayed that attendees had left on the tables the centerpieces made by local children.
She gathered them up and plans to put them on display under glass at the SOLUTIONS Staffing offices.
Ray Hanley, president of the Greater Columbus Arts Council, where Mativi has been a board member for six years, initially describes Mativi in two words: Shes fun.
He calls her an ideal board member.
She doesnt have to win every point, but shes determined to state her opinion and to get others to do the same, Hanley says.
She also is a very generous contributor, he says, and helped to raise sponsorship levels when she chaired the Columbus Arts Festival.
She challenges me, he says. As an executive, I really need and like board members who push me and the rest of the staff to do our best work.
Mativis success as a business person, he opines, comes from her determination, focus and commitment.
She just thinks a problem through and then pursues it to her goal, he says.
Iannarino says the impetus behind their launching the business was their commitment to their families.
When they started the company, it was called JT/SG Associates, named after their children. In the mid 80s, they started another company, SOLUTIONS, into which they rolled the original business in 1996.
To us, the company is a mutual child, Iannarino says. Its our family, and were family together. I think one of the reasons our partnership works is we both want to do whats best for the child, or the company.
In fact, the two try not to travel much together for the sake of the business just in case, Iannarino says.
Just this January, Mativi and Iannarino started a seven-year transition period to turn the leadership of the company over to their oldest sons, Geoff Fullen and Anthony Iannarino. When Mativi and Iannarino each turns 60, the partners want to have their sons in a position to run the company, which provides staffing for the likes of Wal-Mart, The Limited, Roxanne Laboratories, the State of Ohio and Franklin County.
The companys growth to six cities also was a decision of both families and a desire of the children to know theyd be a part of a clear-cut future.
Their position was: If were going to have a pie to split up here, it needs to be a bigger pie, Mativi says.
The company has more than 100 employees 13,000 when you include temporary workers and is exceeding $30 million in revenue with an annual growth rate of about 15 percent. New ventures include an Internet company and additional work force training and development, enabling workers to have skills for different jobs.
Work force issues, in fact, have become a passion for Mativi not simply because theyre so important for her company but because she realizes their significance to the local community.
Recently appointed to the Governors Commission for Student Success, Mativi says tending to youth is critical for Ohio.
Students success today means a successful state and successful workplace tomorrow and into the future, she says, sounding like a crusader for the issue. These people will guide our future and our state.
Her commitment to the local work force is evident in many other areas: She serves on the executive committee of the Governors Work Force Policy Board, as vice chair of the Franklin County Workforce Policy Board and as a Workforce Development Council member with the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce.
Shes also an association board member with the Columbus Zoo and a member of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
Mativis bounty of activities comes as no surprise to her business partner, who sees her as driven and dedicated to continued learning and experiencing life to its fullest.
Shes got the energy of three people, Iannarino says. She can pack more into a day than three people can. Im not exaggerating.
Joan Slattery Wall (email@example.com) is associate editor of SBN Columbus.