- Susan Salisbury Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Steve Mathison, a founder and partner in Mathison Whittles, a law firm based in Palm Beach Gardens specializing in real estate, estate planning and business law, grew up in northern Palm Beach County, and is, in part, responsible for a lot of its growth.
He was an author of the forbearance agreement for the PGA corridor, ensuring responsible and sustainable growth when the John D. MacArthur Foundation sold all its land in the late 1990s.
“It’s an honor to have played a small part in creating such a special place for people to raise their families, grow a business, and have their children do the same,” Mathison said. “That doesn’t happen by accident. I truly believe we accomplished our mission — just look outside.”
Mathison built the firm’s platform with projects such as the Gardens Mall, PGA Commons, BallenIsles Country Club, Frenchman’s Creek Country Club and many others. His current projects include the redevelopment of Downtown at the Gardens; Avenir, a multi-use development planned for Palm Beach Gardens; and Riverwalk Pointe at Mangrove Bay, an active adult community in Jupiter.
His extensive volunteer work includes being a founder and past chairman for the PGA Corridor Association, current Chairman of the North Palm Beach Country Club, a member of the Palm Beach Gardens Charter Review Board and the ongoing economic development chair of the PGA Corridor Association.
He also provides legal counsel to Hospice of Palm Beach County and is involved in several banking and wealth-management institutions. Mathison was also a longtime chair and board member of the Palm Beach State College Foundation.
Hometown: North Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens.
Education: Associate’s degree in music, Palm Beach State College; bachelor’s degree and law degree, University of Florida.
Family: Married 30 years to Deb Mathison. Our son, Ian, is a senior at Georgia Tech studying civil engineering.
About your company: I established the firm in 1991 on PGA Boulevard, where it has grown to 14 employees. I created Mathison Whittles, LLP with partner John Whittles in 2014. A recent president of the Palm Beach County Bar Association, John is among the youngest double board-certified complex litigation specialists in Florida.
First paying job and what you learned from it: I began working as a union musician at age 14 for my grade school music teacher, playing in orchestras and bands in Palm Beach at such places as Royal Poinciana Playhouse and the Breakers. He taught me a strong work ethic, the ability to perform tasks as a team and the satisfaction in delivering a professional result.
First break in the business: Ray Royce, dean of land use and development law in Palm Beach County, and Gardens Mall developer Sid Forbes taught me the value of creating the best possible environment for North Palm Beach County residents and businesses.
How your business has changed: Growth in Palm Beach County as well as the Internet have changed the way our firm does business. Because the world has become “so small” we now represent wealthy individuals, companies, investment and development firms as far away as Stockholm and Prague. I travel frequently to these places to work with my counterparts to coordinate both business and private investment as well as wealth-planning activities.
Best business book you ever read: “Getting to Yes,” by Roger Fisher and William Ury.
Best piece of business advice you ever received: Take the long view: the highest standards of ethics and quality are the best guides in both business and life. We believe that quality creates value for our clients. We both look for and are sought out by clients who understand this vision.
What you tell young people about your business: I want to help them understand there is a higher calling and goal than ‘profit.’ Each time one of our attorneys makes a difference in the community, I feel I have succeeded in passing forward what has been given to me.
Many successful people learn from failure. Do you have a failure you can share and what you learned from it? Take time for family. I worked so hard establishing our firm that I missed out on time with my family that can never be replaced. MW encourages our young lawyers to focus on family first.
What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County? Growth is inevitable. Thoughtful and well-planned growth that contributes to the community is our goal.
Power lunch spot: Prosecco is great, it’s intimate enough to have meaningful conversations and casual enough to relax. The Italian coffee is great!
Where we’d find you when you’re not at the office: Writing or practicing music, golfing or training to be stronger for golf. I also enjoy mountain trekking and snow skiing with family.
Favorite smartphone app: I play in a band and sing at Spoto’s Oyster Bar on Friday evening each season. “Chordie” is an invaluable tool that helps me constantly learn new tunes
What is the most important trait you look for when hiring? A passion for learning and excellence as well as a desire to make a difference in our community