Mike Mari: Smog Star
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
SAN RAMON — Mike Mari was always driven to succeed, but after partnering with his brother in the smog testing industry, his career went into overdrive. “Growing up, my brother, Chris, and I both loved cars, and each of us ended up working in the automotive industry,” he recounts. “After Chris got involved in smog testing, I started to look into it as well. I was interested in the technology, as well as the important role smog testing plays in maintaining air quality in California. Pretty soon, I decided to get into the smog testing field myself. A couple of years later, Chris and I were discussing our jobs and realized that, with our experience, we could partner up and start our own business. After plenty of research and preparation, we opened our smog testing shop in San Ramon in 2016.”
Today, as owner of Above All Smog, Mike says his favorite part of his job is giving customers a positive experience. “No one looks forward to having their vehicle smog tested—it’s right up there with going to the dentist or filing your taxes. Chris and I understand that, which is why we go out of our way to create a positive experience for every customer. Even if they come in with a frown, we hope to have them smiling by the time they leave.”
A resident of San Ramon, Mike spends most of his time outside of work with his wife, Marissa, and their two children. “As a father of young kids, most of my free time is devoted to family,” he affirms. “We like going hiking, riding bikes and taking trips to kids’ museums.” Additionally, Mike pursues personal hobbies like auto maintenance and sports, often in the company of his brother. “Despite running a business together, Chris and I still like to hang out, work on our cars and watch sports, which is our other shared interest. When we get a chance, we like going to San Francisco Giants and 49ers games.”
In his life and career, Mike espouses the importance of treating people with respect. “Respect goes a long way when dealing with people,” he affirms. “To me, showing someone respect means not putting yourself above that person, but approaching them at their level and trying to understand where they’re at. Whether I’m dealing with a customer, a friend or a family member, I think showing respect is the best way to ensure a positive interaction.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Mike says he’d spend more time with his family. “I’m a simple man—I enjoy hanging out and being with my wife and kids, so if I were to retire, I’d probably just do more of that. From now until the day I really do retire, I think that’s one thing that won’t change much for me.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: What’s your favorite TV show?
A: “Street Outlaws.”
Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1988 Honda CRX.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for dessert?
A: Chocolate chip cookies.
Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Car parts.
Q: Did you play any sports in high school?
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A: I played football—I was a cornerback.