September 1, 2017
Top Hispanic-Owned Businesses: Terra's David Martin on the Secret of Miami's Success
Top Hispanic-Owned Businesses: Terra Group’s Martin on the secret of Miami's success

The real estate developer, who heads Miami-based development firm Terra, credits hometown pride as a major driver in the region’s ascent as an international hub of both leisure and business.

“One of the secrets for Miami’s success is that anyone from any country in the world can come here and feel like they can make Miami home and grow their business here,” Martin said. “Our residents can say, ‘Hey, I’m from France,’ or ‘I’m Colombian,’ but in the same breath, people also say, ‘I’m from Miami.’ We have a lot of pride in our city.”

Martin knows from experience how being welcomed by a new place can impact someone’s aspirations. His grandparents from both sides of the family immigrated to Miami from Cuba and established businesses here that exist to this day.

Martin’s maternal grandfather started a chain of funeral homes, Bernardo Garcia Funeral Homes, which can be found in four cities across Miami-Dade County, each of them in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods, such as Hialeah.

On his father’s side, the family business was a cigar company.

For his part, Martin has carried on his family’s legacy in Miami business by founding Terra when he was just 23 years old in 2001 with his father, Pedro Martin.

Together, the two have transformed the firm from a builder of residential projects among growing submarkets, such as Kendall, to a full-service firm with an in-house construction division.

The firm is touted as having been among the pioneers of the growing transit-oriented development trend that places apartment and condo towers just steps from mass transit, encouraging residents to eschew car ownership for public transportation.

Terra is also credited with bringing avant-garde design to Coconut Grove, a Miami neighborhood known for its lush greenery and bohemian feel.

The firm’s portfolio includes the Grove at Grand Bay, two luxury towers built on the site of the old Grand Bay Hotel. The condos grabbed Coconut Grove dwellers’ attention in a few ways. For one, units sets a record price for the neighborhood at an average of $1,100 per square foot. From an aesthetics standpoint, the project looks like nothing surrounding it, with each tower spiraling its way 20 stories into the sky.

At its core, however, Terra is pretty traditional, Martin said. The office has a family feel to it, even with a growing staff of more than 100.

“One of the things my father told me when we were starting out is, ‘David, people will work with you and do things for you if they love you or if they fear you. And you don’t wanna lead by fear. Your relationships will be much stronger and deeper on a basis of love,’” Martin said. “When we select people to join us at Terra, they’re with us for more than a decade.”

Editor’s Note: This story is part of our cover package highlighting the leaders behind the region’s top women-owned and Hispanic-owned companies. These businesses were featured because they ranked high on our lists. Scroll to the bottom of this article to get access to the full list of South Florida’s Top Hispanic-Owned Businesses.

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