The Martin’s Business from a Granddaughter’s Perspective
September 6, 2021
5 min. read
Growing up, I used to be confused when I would go to my friend’s house and eat bread other than Martin’s. My sole source of bread products at home was Martin’s, so I was accustomed to eating the best bread on Earth every single day. In my family, every meal, every lunchbox sandwich, and every picnic meal had Martin’s Potato Rolls and Bread.
My name is Emily Martin, and I’m part of the fourth generation of Martin’s family in the Martin’s Famous Potato Rolls and Bread business. The Martin’s company has been owned and operated by my family since the 1950s. As a result, my family operates differently from other families. For example, our family vacations typically double as opportunities to check grocery stores and restaurants for use of our product. It’s not uncommon for one of us to order a burger and say to each other, “This would be better on our roll.”
2007 Valdosta Groundbreaking
Left to Right: Donna, Anne, Tony, Drew, Jim, Olivia, Jackie, Julie, Josie, Jolene, Joe, Elizabeth, and Emily
All of us Martin grandchildren have grown up making memories at Martin’s and learning about the business. I think my earliest memory is when I tripped and skinned my knee while running down the hallway to my dad’s office. I also remember when our whole family flew down to Georgia to commemorate the groundbreaking of our Valdosta bakery. At the time, I didn’t fully grasp why I was posing with a shovel, but nonetheless there I was.
For the last several summers, I’ve had the opportunity to spend more time in the company and learn more about the business through summer internships and seasonal jobs in the bakery. And the more I learn about this place, the more my heart grows for the people who work here and the values on which the company stands. Most specifically, I have always appreciated how my grandparents and great-grandparents have built the company out of a heart for the Lord.
Left to Right: Lois Martin, Lloyd Martin, Tony Martin, Donna Martin, Jim Martin
My grandfather, Jim Martin, is the oldest of five children to Lloyd and Lois Martin—the original founders of Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe, Inc. Jim was followed by two sisters, Dolores (who was stillborn) and Kathleen (who lived only a couple years and then passed away from a childhood disease), followed by Anita and Keren. My father, Tony Martin, is the oldest of Jim and Donna’s four children, followed by Julie, Joe, and then Jackie Martin. In my immediate family, there are five children to my parents, Anne and Tony Martin. The eldest is Elizabeth, followed by me (Emily), Olivia, Andrew, and the youngest is Andy.
My grandparents’ families, the Gibbles and the Martins, have been good friends for a long time. Donna and Jim originally met because both sets of their parents were involved in music, went to the farmers market to sell goods, and were avid churchgoers. Their families’ stands at market were also located next to each other. Then, in June 1968, my grandparents (Donna Gibble and Jim Martin) were married.
The entrepreneurial spirit on which the Martin’s family business was built has been passed down from my great-grandparents through three generations and even down to me. Grandpa Jim helped his parents create a successful bakery, starting when he was just nine years old. He and Grandma Donna instilled the importance of hard work into their kids, and all four of their children are now in leadership roles at Martin’s. And now, the fourth generation, that’s my generation, is slowly stepping into internships and other employment opportunities at the company.
The Martin family wants to maintain the family-owned quality that Martin’s is known for into the 4th generation and beyond. Therefore, in our family, leadership positions, titles, and company ownership is not just handed to you because of your last name. We each first need to fully understand the Martin’s company and brand, form relationships with the employees, work various jobs, and gain experience, expertise, and an understanding of how Martin’s operates.
Emily, her sister, Olivia, and her mom, Anne, at the 2018 Martin’s Family Picnic
So, we younger grandchildren are often pulled into various company activities to start to learn these things, including earning our own summer internships here in various departments and participating in annual family meetings. One of my favorite parts of being in the business is when the grandchildren get to choose some of the organizations and ministries that we want Martin’s to donate to that year. A heart of giving has been modeled by our family and is deeply rooted in all of us as a result.
Through all the years of working at the business together, though, our family has always prioritized quality family time and family support over the business. Continually, I see my family members putting the needs of family before themselves. Recently, I became very ill at my older sister’s wedding, and my aunts were willing to miss the reception to take me to the hospital. My family is like that; they will sacrifice their own wants or plans in order to support their family members. We really value family time, and often we experience that closeness over a family meal, or through camping together while immersed in God’s beautiful creation.
The extended family of Jim and Donna Martin on a family camping trip around 2008
Growing up as a part of the Martin’s business has been a blessing. I am so thankful to my family for encouraging me to follow my own path in life, but I am also thankful that I worked at Martin’s for a time. Through the years, God has blessed my family’s business—that is evident through the amazing employees we’ve hired over the decades, the geographic expansion we’ve experienced along the way, and the number of people who are learning “Martin’s Potato Rolls” as a household name. At the center of it all, faith in God is what has kept the company going. The entire Martin’s family is naturally business-minded, but that never trumps what is most important: faith in God. After all, this family and this company are only successful by doing “Whatever it takes, God helping us.”
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