'Undercover Boss': MasTec CEO Gets Choked Up Recalling Famous Dad

Jose Mas MasTec Undercover BossMany sons with famous fathers feel overshadowed and the burden of living up to a legend. But rarely does that psychological dynamic play out on a reality TV show, as it did this week when Jose Mas was featured on "Undercover Boss."

Jose Mas is the CEO of MasTec, the $2.8 billion infrastructure giant that his late father, Jorge Mas Canosa, founded and built. Jorge Mas Canosa, widely considered to be a top leader of the anti-Fidel Castro movement in Miami, signed up as a young man to take part in the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion, and went on to serve as an adviser on Cuban affairs to Presidents Reagan, Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton. There's even a major street named after him in Miami.

And as Mas recalled on Friday's episode, which wrapped up the third season for the popular CBS reality series, he grew up in awe of his father, who began his career in the U.S. washing dishes in hotels. He died in 1997. "A couple hundred thousand" people came out in the streets of Miami for his father's funeral to pay their respects, he said. "That moment showed me the impact he had in his life," Mas said. "My dad was an incredible man, someone I'd love to be like."

As it turns out, Jorge Mas Canosa also looms large to many others inside the company, as was seen when Jose Mas worked alongside an electrical foreman at a MasTec site in Ponca City, Okla.

Hugh, a 15-year veteran of the company, cut an avuncular presence in the field as he upgraded transmission lines. Jose Mas, pretending to be "Manny Medina," a recently fired high school basketball coach appearing on a "second chances" reality show, listened as Hugh described the company's -- and Jorge Mas Canosa's -- humane response when he injured himself on the job. Years ago, Hugh was installing a line when he broke his ankle, and his eyes began hemorrhaging, he said. "MasTec treated me real good," Hugh said, remembering that Jorge Mas Canosa had told him that the company was there for him for anything he needed. The father even visited Hugh in the hospital during a trip to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the son told AOL Jobs.

But Hugh told "Manny" that the current leadership doesn't show that same connection with the rank-and-file. "I wish they could get out and see everybody a lot more," he said.

It was the second site visit in a row in which Jose Mas heard his workers express disappointment with management. While in Dallas, and working with Rick, a gas foreman, as they upgraded steel pipes installed in the 1920s, Mas learned that workers were a lot happier in the past. The workers have almost no incentive to do a good job -- the company's bonus program is ineffectual, Rick told him. And, he added, it's "almost impossible" to complete three gas-line upgrades a day, as the company expects.

'Undercover Boss' Learns a Valuable Lesson

Those two encounters were enough to make Mas emotional, as seen above, which from all appearances is not a natural state for him. (Everywhere he turned, his workers described the man posing as "Manny" as "soft-spoken.") Indeed, his reticence contrasts with most of the other bosses who've appeared on the show.

It's a group that would not be described as subdued. There was Rick Silva, another Cuban-American, who shut down a branch of his Checkers and Rally's fast food chain after finding it a mess, with staff barking orders at each other. And then there was Stephen Cloobeck, who couldn't help but reveal himself to a call-center worker in his Diamond Resorts chain -- after the worker had failed to implement Cloobeck's "meaning of yes" doctrine: Never let a phone call end without the offer of alternative vacation packages.

Jose Mas got choked up right after talking to Hugh. "Fourteen years later, [my dad] is still teaching me lessons," he said. "If it meant that much to Hugh, I ... need to be more visible."

Better In The Office Than In The Field

Despite the mixed reviews he received from his staff on the show, Jose Mas has presided over MasTec's economic success. After becoming its chief executive in 2007, he helped usher a turnaround, tripling revenues, and was named by Ernst & Young as the 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year in the real estate, construction and lodging sectors.

"You know because I have 'Mas,' in my last name, and because I am young, I had to prove myself," the 40-year old said in an interview with AOL Jobs. "But it's all about results. My father was a larger-than-life figure. And he doesn't get enough credit for his business acumen in addition to his politics. So I had to meet a very high bar, but that was fine, because I am one of the most competitive human beings you'll ever meet."

One of his new initiatives was to push alternative energy, so he was happy to visit a wind farm during the show. Trekking to American Falls, Idaho, Mas worked with Wendy, an operator of heavy machinery, helping to construct wind turbines. Once it's completed, the farm he was working on will power 37,000 homes, he noted. For her part, Wendy was proud to work on a project that could help the country wean itself off foreign oil, because, as she said, "There's enough in our United States to help us."

But she was less impressed with Mas' work as "Manny." "Some people have it, some people don't," was how she described his efforts at operating the machinery, including a bulldozer. He didn't disagree. "I think I made more hills than I straightened it out," he said. "I think I do other things better than operate equipment."

His ineptitude in the field was also apparent from his very first site visit, working with high voltage electric installations in Fort Myers, Fla. Working with brothers Alex and Kelvin Duran, "Manny" was no use in helping to install the pad mount transformer stations used to power houses. He's too slow, and has no dexterity with the wires and cables. The brothers, who performed a sort of variety show during their appearance, Caribbean dancing and all, came down hard on "Manny." "He reminds me of my dentist," Kelvin said. And as for his bleach-blond-hair disguise? "Manny reminds me of an older, less cooler version of Eminem," Alex said.

They even hazed him, pretending that they were electrocuted during the installation. But during the reveal, he sought to exact a little, playful revenge. "Leadership is about not getting rattled," he said in his interview with AOL Jobs. "I am not going to go around barking orders. You look to be consistent. And that has a calming effect." Indeed, he only pretended he was angry about the incident from earlier, but in fact, he told the the brothers they will get a free ride to attend a program to become certified electrical linemen. He also told Rick that he will adjust the bonus program so that it actually leads to actual employee bonuses. Mas also told Rick that he will pay for his upcoming wedding and honeymoon in the form of $20,000. For Wendy, she will get all the medical help and time off she needs to fix her teeth that have rot as a result of her fibromyalgia. Mas also told her that he will pay off all her debts, which are around $30,000.

But it was still his father's legacy that inspired him during the reveal. Just as his father had done by creating scholarships and foundations in the Miami area, Mas told the Dominican-born brothers Alex and Kelvin that they are role models for the Latin community in Miami. And so he will start a scholarship in their name, which will set aside $25,000 each year for education for a Hispanic-student of their choosing. "If I ever make it big, I want to do the same thing you are doing," Kelvin told him.


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john34howard

I have watched this show a couple of times and I think it is pretty cool. Some of the shows that I've watched the boss at the end has given a lot of the good employees some money or the help that they need in their life. I think that is pretty cool that a boss would be willing to do something like that. http://genuinehomebuilders.net/our-work/

February 03 2014 at 7:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tracysmasonphd

I would like to know how to get in contact with this man. I had services installed at my home by Mastec. I actually contacted Directv for services and they hired this company. The employee that installed my services broke my patio table. I have contacted several people no people to no avail. I am beyond upset that a company can not accept responisability for their employees actions. I will do what is neded to be reimbust for my table

October 14 2013 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
emilio

Mastec advanced technologies south florida division is a piece of crap company that don't give any raises. I was there 2 years 6 months and they laid me off in the most of slimy way. On top off that not paying me my 40 hours of unused vacation is just straight wrong and disrespectful...Mastec you dont deserve hard working employees you deserve criminals to work for you and see how it feels when they steal and take from you...This goes out to the upper management and Ceo positions....You all are a bunch of inconsiderate bastards

February 11 2013 at 12:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kingusa53

Bosses (CEO'S ) going undercover in there big companys is a good idea for several reasons:: 1) they can see what it is like to do the jobs they pay there emplyees minimum wage to do . (2) they can see how hard it is to make a living on minmum wage. (3) they can see were they have neglected the problems with there company ( 4) they can see problems that have not reached the top because of poor management not doing its job (5) they can finaly try to fix problems with there companys!

August 12 2012 at 9:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
acde

What a fantastic performance. My fiancee works as a lineman for this man and it is despicable. The hours, the wages, the safety is horrible. His crew worked a month in NYC crossing a picket line, having people yell at them and try to run them off the road, not to mention the 16+ hour days and no days off. They were away from their families, given one day off for funerals and weddings. The union workers that had stayed on the job were amazed at their speed at getting the job done correctly but also on how little they get paid. They worked like this without complaint sometimes having their shifts switched from day to night at a moments notice causing them to work twenty four hours straight. After getting back to their homes they were told to take a week off, paid. What a nice surprise for these hard working men, it was an even bigger surprise when they got back to work after their week paid vacation only to be told that Mas Tecs corporate office in FL denied the pay. Their blood and sweat was re payed with a lie, late bills, no groceries, and months of playing catch up since alot of these men live paycheck to paycheck. To add insult to injury an article came out not long ago applauding Mas Tec foe their high earnings.

August 08 2012 at 1:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
amy

undercover boss..what a joke...workers can't figure out a camera crew following them around?what a reallity joke

June 26 2012 at 6:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dianemauri

Read the truth about Jose Mas and the MasTec empire. http://globetecexposed.wordpress.com/

May 15 2012 at 4:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jrp1947

he will never be as good as his father not because he can't but because he won't. People loved his father because his father took care of the community and the community took care of him. I learned a long time ago that as a manager i had to have the pulse of the company from the stockroom to the front office and the only way you do that is show people you will help them as much as you are allowed to. When they know you are giving your best for them and their families they will cover your back and make sure you don't fail. They will bring you improvements, suggestions, and and it is always nice when they naturally smile when you walk in unannounced because they are happy to see you.

May 15 2012 at 3:11 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
MrMajestyk

Every one of the employees has a sob story or a rough situation to tell but only 2 or 3 of them get a temporary band aid for it.

May 14 2012 at 7:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
adam

I work for Mastec in their directv satellite installation division. I made around $370.00 last week, and around that every other week. I live in New England and that's not enough to put food on the table, rent, and bills. What u see on TV is publicity and for his very own benifit. He is a cut-throat businessman who forced alot of people i worked with to quit. That's like commiting suicide in this economy right now. I consider myself a top notch worker..... it shows i am on their elite service technician team. Unfortunetly I feel like it's not safe to quit any job right now and I have my eyes open for a different job. I've gone home crying and drained before, and next month I am forced to move back in with my parents so I can figure out somewhere else to work. I am sick of unattainable metrics and minimum wage and slave labor. People don't think it exists but it does, what I do and what I am paid is USA grade A slave labor.

May 14 2012 at 6:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to adam's comment
Christie

Did you get a degree or any special training in that field before you got that job? If not, then your expectations are really too high. It's the entitlement mentality that Obama is nurturing, the "everyone should make enough for life to be easy" mentality. The problem is no one ever thinks that minimum wages are enough or "fair" and if they were all getting what they would like to make in income then that additional labor cost is passed onto to the end consumer who will just not buy if prices get too high. If you did get a degree or you had some specialized training then maybe you are getting screwed but remember this, no one made you take the job, lots of people are stuck in jobs they don't like right now (thank the democrats for that) and no one will ever say "I think I make the amount of money my skills/work is worth". Everyone wants more and if everyone made the same money then there would be no incentive to better ourselves so we can earn more. This is the same complaints of the Occupiers. I hope you get a better job someday and live better but I also hope you realize that YOU have to earn it and most of us started out at the bottom of some company.

May 14 2012 at 7:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to Christie's comment

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