Behind the Success of Paulie Lardi, Owner of MAPS Production House in Wynwood!

The Inspiring Story Behind the Success of Paulie Lardi, Owner of MAPS Production House in Wynwood! 

Article by Ashley Pineiro

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Yesterday, The Daily Wood got the opportunity to meet with Paul Lardi, (the neighborhood knows him as Paulie) owner and founder of MAPS Production House at his studio, MAPS Backlot, at 342 NW 24th St. Paul gave me the full, inside story of his success, and how one thing led to another for him. He started with just one RV and helping out friends on fashion photo shoots on South Beach in the early ‘90’s. Twenty years later, MAPS Production House is a full-service concierge style production company.

MAPS Production House has two Wynwood studios.  MAPS Backlot is an outdoor studio with a kitchen area, a lounge room for the stars, big white walls on the inside to really give the clients a blank canvas to work with; a dream for any photographer. Paul’s goal is to give anyone working at his studios an experience while shooting. I can honestly say just getting a tour of this place was an experience in itself. Studio 255 is MAPS’ second studio in Wynwood, and is an all white daylight studio and event space.

Paul is a humble man. He started by sweeping the floors, and now owns them (and still sweeps them).  For him it is important to be surrounded by inspiring people, which is why he chose Wynwood as a location for the expansion of MAPS. Paul grew up in Long Island, New York.  After an unfortunate event changed his life, decided to move to France. He knew nobody, and was living out of a Volkswagen. After some soul searching, he came back to the US, to South Florida in early 90’s and was working as a bartender in Boca Raton, Florida.  “I went to Boca, and looked for the tallest building.” It just so happened that Boca Golf and Tennis Club was hiring a bartender. He soon became head bartender at the country club and lived there. That is when Paul started making day trips to Miami. He got another job at the Roney Plaza in Miami Beach. While working there, a woman came in one day and said “You should be a motorhome driver!” and she handed him her card. Two weeks later, the bar he was working at closed and he was out of a job, with nothing but a motorhome business card in his hand. The card was for ACT Productions, now the largest event production company in Miami.

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He followed up with the woman who walked into his bar two weeks before, and got another job at ACT productions driving a motor home. This is where his experience in the production industry began. Paul ended up buying his own motorhome and getting his own clients.  He eventually got the opportunity to work with Basil Bearer, then an art director for Target stores, who taught him how to produce. That’s when MAPS became a full service production company. As things kept growing, Paul’s vision was a to   create a special kind of atmosphere on set. He soon realized he needed more space. He had an opportunity to buy his first building one rainy day when an old man, George, insisted that he go into his warehouse, which was just off of 2nd Street and Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. “It was a beautiful building. I made it into MAPS first studio ” says Paul.

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This was just the beginning for Paul. He started building his company and continued to surround himself with incredible people that were organic and real. “The team is made up of people who are masters of their trade, as well as very special people.”

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Paul worked with what he had, and kept growing at a natural pace. He had met David Lombardi, (who is currently the leading developer in Wynwood) because he was working as a realtor right above Paul’s office in Miami Beach. They always knew of each other and respected each other very much. One day, David told him to bring the production industry to Wynwood. At the time, Paul was only looking for a parking lot to house his motor homes. Little did he know that he would find the location for what is today MAPS Backlot in Wynwood. He bought the property for an incredible deal because at the time, people were still scared of taking a chance in Wynwood.

MAPS’ second studio in Wynwood is Studio 255. Paul took this opportunity to build his dream studio, which is located at 255 NW 25th Street. “It is the first New York-style professional daylight photo studio and event space in Miami”, he says.  “It is utilitarian to the industry, and it makes things easy for teams and event production by provided them with everything they need on site”.

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Paul has worked with some very impressive clients and celebrities, such as Victoria’s Secret, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Kohl’s, and many, many more. Target shoots their annual pool shoot at MAPS Backlot. Other events that have gone on there are corporate events, private events, Bar Mitzvahs, and even a wedding, which was held last weekend. “It was beautiful, the whole wedding was magical, the people got what they came for and really appreciated the lot”, says Paul.

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“I love Wynwood because we are back to real again. Wynwood is still so ‘Wild Wild West’ that it doesn’t matter how much money you have; it’s really about what you bring in the way of an art form. This is what the attraction is.  It’s real and is what 2014 is about. It is about the good guy getting his chance. It’s about the real deal; people want to be appreciated for WHAT they are, not WHO they are. I can share my experiences with others, and I know that really special things are going to come out of Wynwood. I truly believe that the Goldman clan is made up of such special people, and I think the product of what were doing is going to turn into something amazing.”

Wynwood, in the eyes of the people who are not a part of the growth, is not what they think it is; because those of us in Wynwood know that we are still developing. In Wynwood, if you are to open a business, there is no infrastructure yet to compliment other businesses. It’s going to take time and investments. However, there is a lot of excitement to be had, because there are so many opportunities presenting themselves especially with Art Basel, the Music Conference, and pop up restaurants. Wynwood is in need of young people who want to be a part of that development.