Staying Ahead of Trends – Dairyland Solutions, Inc.
By: Erika Duelge
I’m sure we can all agree that starting your own company takes a certain type of person with determination and guts. However, there’s a big difference between someone who starts a business and someone who successfully operates one for 16 years (and counting).
Chris Martinez started his apprenticeship at the Milwaukee Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Center (MEJATC) in 1989 and topped out in 1994. After completing his apprenticeship, Chris worked for various contractors in roles including: foreman, estimating and project management.
It was those experiences that gave him the taste for something more, and he finally made the decision to start Dairyland Solutions, Inc. (formerly Dairyland Electric) in 1998. Over the years, he’s helped his company adapt to economic and industry changes by staying ahead of trends and technological advances.
About two years ago, Dairyland began a plumbing division that is certified in medical gas installation, service, and renewable energy. The addition of another division reinforced their commitment to energy conservation and sustainability – two areas Chris believes make the greatest impact on his customers’ profitability.
Not to mention when many companies were shuttering, Chris was expanding – a testament to his successful leadership. In fact, he is projecting to hire four more employees by the end of 2014 – a 23.5 percent increase.
He also finds a lot of value in keeping his 17 employees trained and safe – which were some of the factors that upon starting the company and adding the plumbing division, he became signatory to Electrical Workers, Local 494 and Plumbers, Local 75 respectively.
The union’s training centers give his employees many opportunities to attend classes for skills upgrades, continuing education and safety training. Chris believes the training centers are a great partner to have in this business, and he shows his support of the MEJATC by volunteering time to be an interviewer, trustee and board member.
His industry involvement starts with business owner (which means sales in the morning, designer at lunch, foreman in the afternoon and janitor in the evening), and also includes sitting on the board of directors for the AGC of Greater Milwaukee, and the Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors Association in Milwaukee.
He’s also involved with the community because in being a successful business owner, he feels compelled to give back. He is the vice president of his local school board and past board member for the Milwaukee Achiever Literacy Service. Having seen what it takes to start a company, and work his way through the challenges, he knows it’s about being five or six steps ahead, remaining committed and never giving up.
Those mantras are what he’s passing onto his employees, family and community members because it’s what has made him a successful subcontractor.
His vision, work ethic and the same mantras he’s followed the past 16 years are what make him different. They are what have allowed his subcontracting business to succeed in a challenging industry.
Chris is one of those people who not only start a business, but grow and sustain it.