Rock star: Spotlight on Al Mango

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If anyone has ever told you that you’re “about as much fun as a pet rock,” just take it as a compliment. That’s what Al Mango would do.

Mango is the affable man behind Mango Rock, a company that custom builds and sculpts artificial, life-like rock and waterfall displays. He builds the “rockscapes” out of a South Carolina shop and ships them out to their destinations for assembly and finishing touches. The rocks are built around a steel ramp, and are either made out of foam with an acrylic cement hard coat, or built on a concrete base. Depending on size and scope, most of these creations are light enough to be moved around by two or three people. “The steel ramps are strong enough to hold a Hummer,” Mango says.

Mango recently has branched to the auto and powersports worlds after spending much of his career carving displays for film and television, as well as amusement parks like Universal Studios in Universal City, Calif. According to Mango, the popularity of his creations among dealers is in their “theme park” look, which dealers seem to dig.

“[Dealers] are installing the rocks sort of like a fun promotion,” he says. “They like the idea of having something, almost like a theme park, in the middle of their stores to help people buy products.”

Mango can carve logos into rocks, for an added personal touch. Recently, he completed a display for Quality Marine Services Inc., of Onalaska, Texas, that featured Polaris Rangers atop the artificial rocks. “People started coming in to see it because they like that rugged, natural look,” Mango says. “It was generating curiosity.” So much so, says Quality Marine’s office manager, Hollie Comstock, that the store anticipates higher profits for May 2010 than in the same month in 2006, 2007 and 2009.

“We had it for a month and we sold four units with it,” Comstock says. “It seemed that every time we put an ATV up there, within a week the ATV sells. I’m calling it our sweet spot now.”

Because Quality Marine wanted the rockscape to match the store’s interior columns and imported-rock exterior, Mango painted the display on-site. He also taught employees how to disassemble the display to take the vehicle down. “You just remove the rocks, take the machine off the ramp and put the rocks back on,” Comstock says.

Most of Mango’s display rocks run about $4,999, plus shipping. Visit www.mangorock.com for more information.

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews July 2010 issue.