Pedro Martin, Co-founder of Terra International Development LLC, A DotCom Magazine Exclusive Interview

Pedro Martin

Pedro Martin, Co-founder of Terra International Development LLC is a thought leader, influencer, visionary, and successful entrepreneur. Pedro provides the leadership and energy that has inspired the creation of successful business and real estate empire.

Pedro Martin joins other leading Bestselling Authors, International Speakers & entrepreneurs, Co-founders, and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team is delighted to have Pedro join us for our Leader Roundtable Interview.

Pedro Martin is the Co-Founder, Owner, ex-CEO, and Chairman of Terra International Development LLC (or simply Terra), a real estate development company based in Miami, Florida. Born in Cuba, he came to the US with his family in 1961 and spent four years in Michigan before settling in sunny Florida. He earned a degree in engineering from the University of Florida, then worked at Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin) on missile systems and other electronics before returning to the University of Florida to earn his law degree. After graduating again in 1978, he worked in Miami as a real estate and banking lawyer at the Greenberg Traurig law firm for the next 25 years, frequently representing financial institutions and developers.

Pedro Martin’s ideas toward entrepreneurship took form during his time in law school in the 1970s, but they remained largely dormant until 2001, when he co-founded Terra Group with his son, David Martin. Since 2001, he has guided Terra Group’s capital raising and development works in his role as CEO. The company started small, with a single property in Miami Beach, but spread quickly throughout Southern Florida, with projects in downtown Miami, Miami Beach, Coconut Grove, and Doral, and others throughout Broward and Miami-Dade counties. In Miami, Terra is the developing force behind popular and eye-catching locations including the skyscraper condominium at 900 Biscayne Bay, the Metropolis at Dadeland highrise condos, Quantum on the Bay, Grove at Grand Bay, Park Grove and many others. They are currently busy with over $3 billion in projects currently in-progress, with a total real estate portfolio of over $8 billion in residential and commercial properties.

Pedro Martin is one of the key driving forces in South Florida’s real estate landscape. His lifelong love of the region is evident in his extensive involvement in cultural, civic, arts, and charity organizations. In 2006, he was recognized by the Miami Herald as the ‘#1 Home Builder in Sales’, by the South Florida Business Journal as the ‘Largest Residential Developer,’ and in 2006 as ‘Developer of the Year’ by the American Institute of Architecture, Miami chapter.

Outside of work, Pedro Martin is a dedicated family man. He also enjoys football and basketball, which he used to play in his younger years. He closely follows both the Miami Dolphins and the Miami Heat, the latter of which holds season tickets for.

Start by telling us about your business.

Well, Terra is more of a trademark name for the company. We use a sort of company analogy for each of our projects, so in that respect, we probably have hundreds of companies. But they’re all under Terra, which we use as our unified identity.

The idea for the business started back when I was finishing law school. I knew I wanted to go into real estate, and I did end up practicing real estate and banking law for many years. When I eventually got into the business myself, I wanted to start local, and I settled on a small condominium in Miami Beach as my first property. My son and I started small, but we were able to expand quickly with the help of many European and South American investors I had contact with. We started developing more commercial and residential areas, including high rises, and we now have 15-20 active projects, as well as over 20 large, finished projects already under our belts. We often hire top architects from the US and Europe, and a lot of our buildings have become local community icons here in South Florida, where we still base most of our business. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved and continue to achieve.

Please tell us how you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?

We obviously use a lot of large real estate brokers locally and around the US, Douglas Elliman among them. They have a lot of clientele that they service, and they’ve helped us immensely with sales. Miami is a hot market right now, so we’re able to sell pretty much every property that we hold. We have a lot of international buyers and a lot of northern buyers, but we have a lot of local buyers from South Florida, as well. We often attract people who have recently sold their home so they can move to a luxury condo, or want a second home, or people who are moving into the community to work and want to buy or rent something close to their job.

Moving on to the topic of what we offer, I think we bring a lot to the table. We believe in doing consistent, top-quality work, while coming up with unique designs and creating good value for the clients as much as possible. We then follow through with great customer support and take care of any issues that may arise. Our customers are our forefront concern while we’re designing, developing, and selling these properties.

Please tell us the one thing that separates your business from the competition.

I think it’s our commitment to unique designs, and our commitment to helping and improving the community through our work. To be clear, when I talk about our community, I don’t just mean South Florida. There are many subsections, including Miami Beach, downtown Miami, Coconut Grove, Miami-Dade County, and Broward County, among others, and each of these places has its own identity. We specifically design our works to bring out the best of these unique communities, while being energy efficient and environmentally conscious at the same time. That’s what we’re known for.

And to finish this section, please tell us what the one major key to your company’s success is?

I think it’s hard work, above anything else. We’re able to hire the best executives and the best professionals, and we work with the best architects and the best engineers, construction companies, and so on. We bring together all of this talent and all of this potential, but it’s hard work that pushes us forward and allows us to produce quality designs and oversee quality construction.

For our readers just starting to build a business, what advice can you give entrepreneurs just starting out with a new venture?

You have to work hard and be smart about what you’re doing in order to be successful, but one of the hardest things for a new entrepreneur to do is often acquiring the funding they need to proceed. You have to get people interested in your business and find the right sources, and you may also have to take out loans. You have to network as much as possible, which can be a bit difficult with the virus nowadays, but it’s still possible and cannot be ignored. Finding a good mentor in your selected field can also be invaluable. Finally, try not to get discouraged when things don’t go your way. Nobody’s going to win every single time, and no team ever wins every single game. When something doesn’t go your way, that just means you need to do better next time. And there will always be a next time.

For entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as yours, what big piece of advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?

The main thing is to just stick with it and work even harder. The bottom line is that sometimes things happen that are out of your control. That could be the economy, or COVID, or a major weather event. But you can work to counter those out-of-control events using the factors that you can control. Gather good customers, hire the right people, and find the right consultants. Consultants are especially important because a small business usually doesn’t have enough employees to have experts in every aspect of their operations. Leverage everything at your disposal and just weather the storms. You’ll get through those storms, and the experience you accrue will teach you patience and the understanding that great businesses aren’t built overnight. It’s taken us 20 years to be where we are now, and we weathered our share of storms along the way. In 20 years, hopefully we’ll be in an even better spot.

In today’s fast changing business environment, how do you stay abreast of things?

First of all, I read a lot. But besides that, I’m communicating with colleagues within my industry and with consultants all the time. I keep track of new things that are happening, costs that are rising, what’s happening in South America and in Europe, what’s happening with the dollar and with our sales, and what’s happening with shifting demographics. There are more people moving in than leaving in South Florida, and we’ve achieved very positive outcomes as a result of that. But change is the watchword of our business, and we always have to be on top of that through communication and research.

What is your “Why”? Why do you get up in the morning?

Well, I’ve always been a very positive person, and I’ve had the fortune of being fairly successful in everything that I’ve done. I think that’s because I have passion and enjoy the industry. I have a business, sure, but I also have a fairly large family that I want to provide for and be around for many more years. Eventually, I want to leave something for them. You have got to keep the spirit and keep the energy going no matter how old you get, because that’s the only way you’re going to be successful. I, for one, like being successful in everything I do.

What is the most important thing one has to do to be a great leader?

You have to have knowledge, charisma, and intelligence, of course, but you also have to have great people skills. You have to be able to manage a lot of different personalities, and interface with the right people in order to reach your desired goals. Try to hire the best people and retain the best consultants. If you work really hard at it and you do all of that, you should be successful. Besides that, you’ve got to remember that there’s always competition for every market, every area, and every business. So, you have to make sure to always be on an even keel or ahead of the competition, thinking outside of the box, and just generally doing whatever is necessary to make that happen.

Describe how important your customers are to your business?

The customer will always be the most important thing to any business. It’s just like in football or in basketball—the fans are really what drive the show, and they’re who the players play for and who the front office people work so hard to please. In our case, we’re doing our best to keep our customers, our buyers, and our tenants happy. I know that as long as we do that, we’ll be successful. But in business you’ve got to stay ahead of the curve if you really want to excel. Make sure you have the right personnel, the right communication, and excellent customer service.

Describe a positive way that technology can make the world a better place?

Technology is all around us, and it has advanced at such an incredibly fast rate over the last 20-30 years. Humanity spent thousands of years slowly coming up with new things and building on ideas, but what has happened in the last few decades can only be described as an explosion in technology and in communication, especially with computers and the internet. I view it as sort of a second industrial revolution where we’re exponentially increasing the speed and efficiency of what we do. We’re finding new methods and new ways to market things, build things, and communicate. Everything is advancing so quickly that it can be a challenge to keep up with, but you have to try because it’s not going to stop. And I think these have been largely positive developments. Tasks that used to take a month or two to accomplish have had their labor time shortened down to a few days—or sometimes less. Architects are designing structures faster with the help of computers and machines. Buildings are being built with far more efficient equipment by far more knowledgeable people. It’s amazing.

Tell us how something positive to motivate our readers?

You’ve got to develop a passion for whatever business and whatever industry you’re in. That’s essential. But once you have that, as long as you don’t take on more than you can handle, positive things will happen.

In one sentence, tell us how you start your day to get ready?

The most important part of my morning is the time I spend getting organized and informed. I watch the news, I check in on certain items that are important to our business, and I form a checklist of things that need to get done, all while I’m eating, exercising, and getting ready to head to work.

Describe how you handle rejection and setback?

I try not to take it personally. We don’t really get too much of that, to be honest, but when it does happen, I think the best thing is to learn from it so we can do better next time and find a way to ensure it doesn’t happen again. I make sure that I identify the reason or the cause of the problem, so I can try to improve whatever prompted it.

Describe what your hiring philosophy is?

I hire the best talent available. There is no other consideration.


Describe how you keep your sanity in a competitive business environment?

That’s kind of a loaded question, but I think the main thing is to try to stay ahead in your field, your industry, and your community. In doing so, you put yourself in a leadership position where you’re able to keep track of everything that’s going on, and you can try to improve the situation and improve the lives of everybody involved, both in your company and in the wider community. If you’re successful at doing all that, it’ll go a long way.

Pedro Martin, thank you so much for participating in the DotCom Magazine Leader Roundtable Interview Series. We appreciate you participating in this important roundtable interview series, and helping our readers learn more about what it takes to build a great company and become a great leader. We wish you, your family, and of course your entire business, nothing but the best.