In August, Joe Pellegrini got yet another nagging phone call. It was his health coach, a woman working on behalf of his employer, the $2.7 billion lawn-care company, Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. (SMG ) The 48-year-old executive knew the spiel by heart. "Have you been to your doctor yet? When are you going?" Then the prescription: "You need to lose weight and you really, really need to lower your cholesterol."
Pellegrini is a supply-chain executive at Scotts' headquarters in Marysville, Ohio, a land of all-you-can-eat buffets smack in the middle of America's obesity belt. At Scotts the hallways are filled with ldl-abusers and overweight diabetics. Pellegrini, by contrast, is an Armani-swaddled triathlete who often cycles 36 miles to and from work. Lose weight? "Give me a break," he thought. "It's all muscle, folks."
But a time bomb was ticking beneath the taut physique. Medical specialists working on behalf of Scotts had been scouring every aspect of Pellegrini's health. His profile—athletic, high body-mass index, and bad cholesterol (brought on by a love of 28-ounce sirloins)—triggered an alarm.
Eventually, Pellegrini succumbed to the company-applied pressure and agreed to abide by his health coach's action plan, which included an immediate visit to his doctor. A few weeks later, a specialist studying Pellegrini's angiogram spotted the heart valve of what should have been a dead man. Within hours, two stents were installed. The surgeons later told him the 95% blockage would have killed him within five days. "It was that close," Pellegrini says.