In The Spotlight

Magliarditi Draws a Winning Hand

In a town where fortunes can change in the blink of an eye, Joseph Magliarditi, ’91, hit the jackpot. In June, he was named president and CEO of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, a premier destination entertainment resort known for its innovative nightlife and music scene.

How did he do it? “I got lucky,” he says. “I was given an opportunity in the beginning of my career to get involved in as much as I wanted.”

While luck may have had something to do with it, Magliarditi’s keen abilities to analyze and assess a property also played a big part. A 16-year veteran in the Las Vegas casino industry, Magliarditi has overseen extensive renovation projects at the Rio, where he got his start in the gaming industry, and at the Colorado Belle and Edgewater casinos. He also designed and developed the M Resort Spa Casino, which opened in March of 2009. When the top spot at the Hard Rock became available, Magliarditi was confident that he “was the right person to have the biggest impact on the property in the shortest amount of time.”

Magliarditi’s start in the industry came after brief stints as a financial analyst with Times Mirror Inc. and as a consultant for Merrill Lynch. It was a spontaneous decision, made while visiting his older brother, who was living in Vegas. “Las Vegas was a booming town then,” Magliarditi says. He went back to New York, packed his things, and never looked back.

Magliarditi began working as a corporate analyst for the Rio, which at that time was owned by the Marnell family, casino-building pioneers who launched such celebrated properties as the Mirage, Caesars Palace and Wynn. Using the skills he honed as an economics and marketing major at Niagara University and as an MBA student at Hofstra University, he quickly moved his way into positions of increasing responsibility, including director of strategic marketing, vice president of hotel operations, and senior vice president of operations. When Harrah’s Entertainment acquired the Rio in 1999, Magliarditi remained with the hotel another 18 months before joining Anthony Marnell III to launch TRIRIGA, an integrated workplace management system that has been named a leader in sustainability software and is used by more than one-third of the Fortune 100.

“Software was the cool, hip thing to do” at that time, Magliarditi says, and his original three-year commitment to the company stretched over seven years. “It was the best business learning experience I ever had.”

In 2007, Magliarditi returned to the casino industry, accepting the position of COO and executive vice president of the Colorado Belle and Edgewater casinos, Marnell-owned properties along the Colorado River in Laughlin, Nevada. Again, Magliarditi turned a sharp eye toward the operational aspect of the business and spearheaded multimillion dollar remodeling projects at both properties.

At that same time, Magliarditi partnered again with Marnell to build the M Resort, an innovative destination resort on the south end of the Vegas strip. It was the most fun he has had in his career, he says. He oversaw every aspect of the construction, from putting the ideas on paper to doing the final walkthrough 24 months later. “It was dirt and now it is a living, breathing thing,” he says.

The top spot at the Hard Rock became available at a time when Magliarditi was ready for a new challenge. He’d been a customer at the hotel for more than a decade and had always been intrigued by it, he says, adding that he had tried to purchase it at one time but was outbid. “I thought it was a secret jewel of the city.”

Despite his interest in the property, accepting the job was a difficult decision for Magliarditi. He would have to leave the Marnell family to take the helm of a property that had recently undergone a $750 million expansion but was in need of an image makeover. Magliarditi plans to take the property to the next level, maintaining its party atmosphere while appealing to an older, more sophisticated clientele.

Magliarditi’s first weeks on the job were dedicated to getting to know the property and its management team. “It’s been a blur,” he says. He has a long list of things he wants to do at the Hard Rock, but his first steps will be to assess and prioritize the tasks ahead. “This goes beyond starting from scratch. That’s easier.”

The Niagara Falls native has come a long way from his days on Monteagle Ridge, and while Lady Luck may have had a hand in his success, he also credits the opportunity to work with “visionaries” in the field who “gave young people a chance to succeed and allowed them to make mistakes so they could be better.” It’s that environment he wants to create for the 3,000 employees at the Hard Rock. A strong advocate of teamwork, Magliarditi hopes that his leadership will make a positive impact on his employees’ lives and the lives of their families. “That’s a pretty good feeling to know that you’re making things better, that your employees can say, ‘he helped us, it worked.’”