Now 31, Kyle Martinez has been in LBM for 18 years, has owned his own yard for two, and jokes he’ll be ready for retirement in five. He realized his dream of owning a yard by learning from his grandfather, at whose yard he worked for years, and applying the work ethic he absorbed from his father, a Louisiana logger who started his own business at 19. Along the way, Martinez graduated from college (in three years) and grad school.

Eric Kayne Kyle Martinez, President/Owner, Interstate Building Materials, Many, La.

Pursuing a Dream
I saved my money, kept my style of living low, bought an old house and remodeled it, and drove a seven-year-old truck. By the time I was 29, I had saved over $200,000. The bank told me I had the most detailed plan they’d ever seen.

Fast Start
I knew I had to start making money from day one. I bought my [first] truck and inventory before I bought the yard. I parked the truck in storage and had a plan for the inventory in case it didn’t work out.

Figuring It Out
It has been a big learning curve for myself when it comes to hiring—finding the right spot for someone, and knowing how to coach the people. We have very frank meetings, but it took us about a year to get comfortable being frank. I picked up from my grandfather that money and location don’t do it; it’s the people that matter.

Forging Ahead
I’m grooming someone right now to take over as president. I don’t want to be doing this within the next two to three years [as president]. I would like to gear more toward developing people and infrastructure. I’d like to get a good blueprint here and develop the organization. I talk to a lot of people about developing an operation. I’d like to develop the Interstate brand, and build my people up. We have a great system; we just have to figure out how to develop it.

Beyond the Business
I don’t have time for family now, but it’s at the top of the list. That’s one of the prices I paid for getting into this. I am gladly getting to the position where I feel I can take a bit of a breath.