Matt Martin, EVP of Martin Industrial Technology, Is Adding a Human Touch to the World of Robotics
We sat down with the EVP of family-owned business Martin Industrial Technology to learn about how the team behind the machines is impacting the future of industry and automation — one robot at a time.
This blog post is part of our “Shop Talk” founder series, which celebrates Word of Web clients as we dive into what drives them and how they embrace the entrepreneurial spirit.
Tell us about Martin Industrial Technology. What’s your elevator pitch?
Martin Industrial Technology is a small company based in North Carolina that’s both a manufacturer’s representative and a distributor of industrial products from a mechanical perspective, as well as motion control. So, that’s the jargon-y answer! Another way to put it is that we sell robotics for manufacturing and assembly lines.
What sparked the idea behind your company? How did it come to fruition?
My dad is our founder and he’s been in this business most of his career. He started with building machines — he was a robotics programmer. From there, he went to work for a components supplier. Eventually, he ventured out on his own and began consulting. He was asked to take over a sales territory for a company called ROLLON— and at that time, our business model started to develop under Martin Industrial Technology. From there, we started building our portfolio of companies that we work with — and now, we’ve gotten into selling products as well as full solutions.
What unique problem does your company solve or what gap does it fill?
We like to think in terms of full solutions, which goes back to the days when my dad was building full machines. He trains us to think in terms of the full machine and not just what we’re selling. I’d say that’s really our unique approach — we’re able to look at the intent of the whole project versus just selling something. We also keep our product knowledge at a very high level so that we always know what we’re talking about.
Tell us more about how you’ve used your website as a differentiator in the industry. What web-related advice have you given to other companies?
A lot of business in the past centered around referrals and developing in-person relationships. While that’s very important for exposure and new lines of business, we began to understand the power of Google. In order for people to find us, we had to be online and look presentable.
Working with Word of Web has been great because Caroline is able to articulate website development in a way that’s simple and clear. She also understood how to make our website look good. Our site is a powerful tool for engineers and customers to be able to gather relevant information about us — and we’ve put in a lot of effort to be found online through SEO and Google Adwords.
We do have companies in the industry, whether it’s our peers or other brand names, who are coming to us and asking how we are developing leads and making sure we’re reputable online. I think it’s just about taking the time to give your website the attention it needs.
What are the most challenging and most rewarding parts of what you do?
I feel like what we’re doing is very important, so that in itself is extremely rewarding. A client once found us online and needed help fixing an assembly line issue. It was a tight timeline, but if we couldn’t get it fixed, there would be a worldwide shortage of something very important to the healthcare industry. While the issue we solved was small, it prevented a massive problem that would have impacted a lot of people. It’s those kinds of jobs that are the most rewarding and make you feel proud.
The most challenging aspects right now are supply chain issues and labor shortages. A lot of medical manufacturing is coming back to the US, which is great for the industry. However, we’re also seeing longer timelines when the end-user needs something immediately. It’s about trying to mitigate supply chain issues, creatively solve problems, and figure out how to be better and quicker than the competition.
Where would you like to see your company in 5 years?
We don’t have a rigid 5-year plan. We always try to have a general direction in mind, but how we actually execute is that we’re always looking for the next opportunity. Even if we have our sights set on something, we don’t have blinders on trying to get there. We try to be very flexible and adaptable to how we’re going to grow — and it’s all within a framework. We’re guided by our core values, so when we come across an opportunity, we decide if it truly aligns with who we want to be as a company.
What’s the best advice and worst advice you’ve ever gotten?
The best advice I’ve ever gotten is to do what you say you’re going to do — and do it well. It’s easily said, but not easily done, so I always try to keep it in the back of my mind. I really want my customers to do well, and it’s on me to make sure they succeed.
The worst advice I’ve gotten was to reduce my expectations. There was this longshot job we really wanted and a company we were working with didn’t want to pursue it because they said we wouldn’t get it. But, if I land it once, then I land it — so I have to at least try!
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your company?
You have to be aware that you don’t know what you don’t know. Don’t walk around thinking that you know it all because you don’t. Be confident about the things you do know, but be humble enough to understand that there are people who know more than you do — and there are challenges you haven’t faced yet. It’s OK to mess up as long as you learn from it.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs just starting out?
When starting a business, you may not know what to do — but that doesn’t mean you don’t do it. You’re going to stumble a lot, and you’ll come across things you didn’t expect to, but it’s about taking things step-by-step and confronting challenges. Don’t expect everything to go smoothly because it won’t, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get there.
What about your company are you most proud of?
We’ve grown a lot and have accomplished things that a company our size shouldn’t be able to do — and it feels like we’re just getting started. We’re attracting bigger companies that want to work with us, working with the customers that we really want to work with, and have set sales records for companies that we’ve worked with. It’s satisfying to see all of our efforts paying off. This is my dad’s dream — and we’re actually doing it, which is awesome. Seeing the company grow with him at the helm, and getting to be a part of it, is very rewarding. We’re expanding in ways that we didn’t expect and embodying who we truly want to be.
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