MATTHEWS – For two decades, Jose Martinez traveled all over the country to work on some of the biggest arena, stadium and convention center construction projects in the country for SMG of Philadelphia.
Martinez, who sometimes had to uproot his family for his construction management assignments that often lasted several years, worked on projects in Florida, Memphis, New Orleans, Atlanta and even Puerto Rico. Often, Martinez would stay on location for up to a year after each project was complete to help train the arena personnel.
“We made sure the plans were being followed and things were being built correctly,” Martinez said. “The team consisted of eight personnel and we were just openers. We finished the arena and then we opened it and got it going.”
But these days, Martinez, who earned an electrical engineering degree from the University of Florida, keeps his work radius to about 30 miles from his house in Matthews. Life, and work, is a little more slow paced since Martinez started JM Home Improvement of North Carolina four years ago.
“I have always been in the construction business,” Martinez said. “I got involved with a big company, SMG, back in 1985 and they are the biggest arena and convention center management company in the world. I would spend between three and four years in each place.”
Martinez, who moved to North Carolina from his native Florida 10 years ago, is a one-man operation; although, he will hire labor when he needs it for some of his bigger jobs. In the beginning, Martinez had two or three jobs a week. But these days, Martinez often has to turn down offers of work as his plate is full most of the year.
And Martinez, who is also a trained OSHA inspector, does a little bit of everything. He will build a new porch or deck; do all kinds of electrical work like installing lighting and ceiling fans; install windows, doors, equipment and appliances; and do home décor work like installing blinds and hanging pictures.
“What I want to do is follow my passion,” Martinez said when asked why he started his own business. “It has just exploded, and I get calls constantly. We basically do anything internal in a home. We get a lot of calls for decks and doors. We get a lot of calls for equipment that breaks in the home like disposals or microwave ovens that need installation.”
There are even times that Martinez comes in and finishes up a project that was started by a homeowner who got in over their head.
“I enjoy helping people solve problems,” Martinez said. “I’m a retired engineer, so solving problems is what I do. I also get to meet four, five families a week. The biggest thing I have seen in this business is there are a lot more people trying to do home improvements because of the internet and the home improvement television shows. But sometimes people don’t do their homework properly and they get stuck. That is when they call in the big guns and I really enjoy doing that.”
Martinez has even been hired to “help someone” build a deck. He said that was a very satisfying job.
“He wanted a professional to be there,” Martinez said. “It was rewarding to see the young man complete his project. He did a really good job.”
Martinez could easily expand his business but he said he enjoys doing all the projects from start to finish.
“I want to stay simple and work by myself,” Martinez said.