Mother’s Day Q&A with Donna Martin
Mother’s Day is a special time of year to celebrate all the wonderful ladies in our lives—the ones who give us guidance, assurance, and encouragement when we need it most. While mothers should really be celebrated every day of the year for all they do, it’s nice to have a special day to honor them and thank them for their love and sacrifice.
This Mother’s Day, we wanted to highlight one particular woman who is very special to all of us here at Martin’s—Donna Martin, wife of Martin’s President, Jim Martin.
We interviewed Donna to hear about her favorite moments as a mom, things she learned from her own mother, and advice she has for other moms, in addition to her unique experience of being involved in not just one, but two family businesses.
See her responses to each question below or watch the video clips to hear her thoughts!
Q: Tell us a little about yourself.
“Hello, I guess this is a little out of my comfort zone…but my name is Donna Martin. I am the president’s (Jim Martin’s) wife and I am happy to be that. I have a wonderful family. I love gardening and I love doing church work. That’s…besides raising my family, church work was second. I love being a mother, I loved cuddling my babies, and having them, and I loved seeing them grow up, and how they are maturing, and now they don’t need my mothering. Sometimes I still try it…And I get in a little bit of trouble sometimes.”
Q: What are some of your favorite interests?
“I liked music and that was very much in my life and so, I guess, growing up one of the best Christmas gifts I got was a record player. I think I was three years old and will never forget that…probably because I love music. And so, I guess, at about third grade, I finally talked my mother into letting me have piano lessons…and then later on, when I was ten, I wanted an organ. Our church didn’t have an organ, but I wanted to learn to play the organ and so my parents sold things to be able to buy me my first organ. And so then I would be practicing and customers would come and my mother would say that’s my daughter playing and she would open the door which prepared me for one of the main things I enjoy today besides my family…[which] is playing the organ at church. It’s more than a hobby to me, it’s really important to me… And music, and our family, is very important.
“Jim and I really, really like to do music together. That’s what attracted us probably first to each other, music. I heard Jim sing and I loved it and so I was out to get him. I started playing for his family to record music on the radio and then eventually, just a little before I was sixteen, we started dating and we never stopped. I got to playing for him, singing solos in church, and following his family around playing for them.”
Q: Tell us about your mother.
“With Mother’s Day coming up, I have to say that I always, of course, think of my mother… I had an awesome mother who loved her family, loved God, loved working, loved being in business…just really loved life. And she loved me. So one of the hardest things (and I’m a little teary about it) is when I think about my mother. She was my best friend. I didn’t need…I hardly needed girlfriends because my mother and I were so close and loved each other. We did everything together and she just taught me amazing things. How to work…and it looked like play. She would work in the garden and it looked so easy… When I take the shovel, it’s work. I didn’t know it was work; she made it look like play. That’s really how she lived her life. She lived her life working. She had a bad heart…but she did what she could do, with limitations. We look back, are amazed, that she could accomplish so much. It’s attitude. You need to have a good attitude. Work is not so hard when you have a good attitude. Be thankful. I just remember that she was thankful and I believe that she taught me how to be thankful and I hope that I have passed that on to my children, to be thankful for all things.
“My mother was an awesome mother in that she taught me to enjoy many things in life. She always had a hobby, she worked hard making chocolate candy at Easter, she would make all the Easter bunnies and hens…or whatever you mold and make chocolate out of, and we would sell [them] for Easter. But when she worked ‘til 2 o’clock in the morning…well, if I wanted to talk to my mother, I went to the candy store. And that was okay, but she always took time to come to my concerts and support me in everything that I did. And my dad also; he always supported my mother in lots of things that she needed to do. She was very much of a business lady, could make decisions, and she was supported by the rest of the family. And…we just had a great mother.
“But she always had a hobby. She worked very, very hard but she always had some kind of hobby. She went to art class and then she would stay up late and paint. Or I remember the one where she did leather hammering and she would make pocketbooks and belts and that was a little annoying to us ‘cause she would chink-chink-chink all night there for hours in the evening once in a while. And her other hobby for relaxation was gardening.”
Q: What are some of your proudest moments as a mother?
“One of the proudest moments, I guess, as a mom, was having the opportunity to practice with my family and sing at a Christmas banquet. We all dressed Christmassy and we sang a Christmas song with harmony, and I have to say that that was a dream of mine and one of the proudest moments I think of my life with my entire family at that particular time. I still listen to the CD; it was awesome.
“I am so happy that my family is enjoying being in business. Although, we gave them all freedom to choose what they wanted to when they went to college. We gave them that opportunity to choose what they wanted to do and interesting enough, they have all come back to the business.”
Q: What is some advice you would like to give other moms?
“Because Mother’s Day is coming up, it’s really, really important to teach your children to love their husbands, to respect them, to honor them, even when you don’t always agree with them. My children have since said to me, ‘Oh, Mom, you always think Dad’s right…’ And I’m thinking… ‘Oh no I didn’t’ or ‘Oh no I don’t, but I’m happy that you thought that.’
“Teach your children to respect others, teach them manners, teach them to love God, teach them to do things that they don’t want to do at the time. Later, they will love it. They will come back and say, ‘Thank you, Mom. Thank you, Dad.’ You are their parent, not them. They love to have boundaries even when they think they don’t. It gives them a sense of…you care for them, you love them.
“You get the chance to teach them the things that you enjoy and that you like. So, as they were growing up, I introduced them to, of course, music. They all had to take music lessons of some kind because they were a part of this family. They also had to go on day trips to the Skyline Drive and just enjoy some nature. Maybe they were grumbling when they started…but they ended up having fun the rest of the day. We took them to concerts, piano concerts. Same thing, but we’re the parents and we’re introducing them to culture…and guess what? They all enjoy it now, so I would recommend, you be the parent and you teach them.
“I enjoy gardening…Gardening is probably one of my biggest hobbies. God talks to me when I’m out there. It’s quiet time, and I’m hammering away, I’m sweating, and I’m working hard. But, that’s my time with God as well. And now I see that, surprisingly, all my children enjoy gardening.
“Happiness is a choice. You have to decide. Everything in life will never be what you want. It just won’t. We all have good times and we have bad times…If you are thankful for what you have, and not for what you don’t have, you can be happy.”
Q: What do you enjoy doing with your family?
“We love to go camping together, we love to travel together, and for a week or two at a time, and surprisingly, we get along; we come home being friends.”
Q: How does your family celebrate Mother’s Day?
“Mother’s Day is coming up and it’s always a fun time for us to gather together as a family. We do something different many, many years just because there are several mothers in the family now and so that none of us have to cook that day we sometimes just go out and buy a big bucket of fried chicken, and all the trimmings that go with it and we sit around and eat that on Mother’s Day…Just a fun day to be together.
“We love to be together as a family. We sit around the table for sometimes hours and there will be several conversations going across and through and around the table. Trying to get everybody a chance to talk is kind of an impossible thing, but we work together, but we also love to play together. We love—besides eating which we love to do, and analyzing our products sometimes at the table—we love to play together and so we’ll end up out in the yard.”
Q: Can you tell us about growing up in a family business?
“I was the third child in a family, in a Christian family, and we had our own business. My mother made homemade chocolate candy and she had vegetables, and we had meats and cheese and we went to market every Friday. So growing up, on Thursday, it was the day to get ready for market. We would slice the ham and the cheese and whatever and be ready to get up early and load our goods and put them in the car and go to Farmers Market in Chambersburg and that was my experience learning how to sell to customers at a very early age.”
Q: What has growing up in a family business taught you?
“And then, when I got old enough, I helped to make customers happy. They would be preparing for their family or for something special and we would try to give them the best product that we sold and meet their needs and make them happy. Customers always would come first. And then my mother had a candy store right next to our home. The doors opened into our living room and our kitchen and so I was used to customers coming all the time. When they came off-hours and my mother was out gardening, she would stop and we would go in and open the door and invite them in and wait on them even if we were going down the drive to go away and they pulled in, if possible, we backed up. Customers came first. And so I grew up really loving customers and enjoying taking care of them. I liked to sell to them, and I still like to sell to them.”
Q: Can you tell us about marrying into another family business?
“Marrying into another family business…well, that’s really what I wanted. I didn’t want another type of living, because I understand business. I love being in business. I understand that there are seasons in a business where you’re so busy that that’s all you can do is get up early, work all day, and fall back into bed, and get up the next day. And it’s like making hay; it’s like a farmer making hay. You take care of business when it’s there and then there are times when you can play and you can have a good time because you’ve worked hard. Same in a marriage…sometimes it’s rough and tough. You don’t always agree. You work through those hard times and then you can have the good times. I believe that everybody has those. It’s getting through the rough times to have the good times that makes it all worthwhile. So I would suggest, don’t give up working hard. You can get through it.
“Martin’s Famous Pastry [Shoppe, Inc.] is now my business as well. I have wonderful memories of my family’s business but now I have a new business and I love it.”
Q: What has being in the Martin’s business taught you?
“Well, through all these years, we have seen ups and downs in the business. Sometimes we were going up and a few times we were going down. And actually, I would have to say that those down times have reminded me that I need to care for other people that are having a down time. It taught me to be more careful. It taught me at the grocery store that sometimes I had to put some food back because I didn’t have enough money in my pocket but we still in all that, those times, took care of some employees. Jim came home and said “I am giving ‘so-and-so’ and ‘so-and-so’ a raise, and I’m taking a pay cut.” And that was pretty difficult, but we were able to make it.”
Q: Tell us about Martin’s today.
“So now today…Oh, it’s amazing. I can’t believe where God has let this business grow. It is His business; we only are supposed to take care of it and do our responsibility. And so now we are in many different countries. I can hardly believe that I visited Dubai. It’s unbelievable how people love our potato rolls. They are so excited about it. It’s just fun…exciting…scary at the same time. I wonder what God has in store. But we accept that we need to do what He asks us to do and go where He asks us to go and trust Him, be wise.
“Jim and I feel having a company is a way that we help others support their family and make a living so it’s very valuable that we run the business in a way that it continues to grow so that we can help our employees grow and support their families and our community.”
Q: What would you like to tell the future leaders of Martin’s?
“To be respectful and caring for the employees. I would like to say that it’s important to treat our customers with the same respect. Always, always, always keep God first. Help Martin’s Famous Pastry [Shoppe] to be a God-honoring company.”
Watch the full interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch/i0vkNrgt0EM
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