Encouraging Development Across Texas (As Well as Boardwalk and Park Place)

Martinez Stresses Customer Service, Quality Control at TxCDC
By Dorian Martin

Oscar Martinez has had a lifelong-interest in economic development. His passion for understanding the needs of communities started in South Texas, continued in East Austin and now covers the state of Texas. His business sense continues to be honed today through his work as Texas Certified Development Company’s senior vice president as well as his hobby of playing Monopoly. Through it all, Martinez’s overarching goal has been to help people become successful.

As a boy, Martinez took an interest in the day-to-day activities that he saw around the Corpus Christi neighborhood where he was raised. “When I was young, I was really intrigued by the way the city worked, how all of these different agencies worked together in providing the different services to people,” said Martinez, who learned more about the role of government while serving in his high school student council and as student president of Del Mar College’s Congress.

Martinez left his hometown to attend the University of Texas-Austin, where he earned a bachelor of business degree in accounting in 1974. After graduation, he joined Antioch College Southwest Region as an assistant comptroller and financial aid officer, where he worked with students to help them finance their education.

In 1979 Martinez went to work for the Austin Minority Economic Development Company. This position gave him hands-on experience in helping East Austin small business owners with a variety of issues, ranging from developing an accounting system to improving a building’s façade. “That’s where I got my roots in what I’m doing now,” he said. “I started assisting business owners in developing a business plan and securing funds for their business. That really intrigued me because I love numbers and using my skills with numbers to help business owners is fun.”

In 1985, Martinez became an independent contractor who developed loans in partnership with several entities, including TxCDC. His hard work and good relationships with people got him noticed, which led to an offer in 2005 to join TxCDC to oversee the SBA 504 loan program.

In his new role, Martinez instituted an internal review process that ensures that all potential 504 loans applications go through a quality control screening by TxCDC staff before being submitted to the SBA. The goal is to have the loan submitted to the SBA within 24 hours of completion.. An additional responsibility is assuring that the staff and consultants remain up-to-date with any changes in the SBA loan program.

Because of this quality control program, TxCDC has a high success rate of having its SBA 504 submissions approved by the SBA. “I’d say it’s a 99.9 percent approval rate” Martinez said. Once TxCDC submits a loan, the SBA district office in Sacramento normally responds the 504 loan within 3 days.

His commitment to building relationships among clients, consultants and staff has won Martinez many fans. “I had known Oscar for many years before I started with TxCDC in 2010,” said TxCDC President Suzanna Caballero. “I knew him as the ‘go to’ guy for SBA 504 questions.  And after being with TxCDC for only a few weeks I realized he wasn’t just my ‘go to’ guy but the staff’s and many other bankers, too.  I also realized his strong allegiance to customer service was unwavering.  ‘Whatever it takes to satisfy a customer’ is his mantra.  I’ve learned in my many years of banking that you can train people to do tasks, but good customer service is just something that can’t be taught. It must be in one’s nature. Oscar is a natural at serving his clients and staff.”

In his spare time, Martinez also likes to keep his business instincts sharp by playing Monopoly. “I love Monopoly. It’s hard to find people to play with me because I usually win,” he said, noting that there are many lessons to be learned from this board game.  “Just like in the game of Monopoly, running a small business is risky, yet it can be rewarding if you plan your moves. You’ve got to take some chances, just like in the game, but you’ve got to know how to build that business carefully so that you are successful in winning the game.”

He also uses the lessons of Monopoly in his job. “Here at TxCDC, I love to apply the lessons of Monopoly by helping people achieve the objectives of their business,” Martinez said. “In our program, we help them with their business plan and with as little as 10 percent down, they can get a 504 loan and purchase the building and start creating valuable equity and wealth in their business. Down the line if they want to retire, they can still continue to lease the building and have that as retirement income. It’s something we’re building for other people so that at the end of 20 years, they’ll have something to show for their entrepreneurial efforts.”

What bankers say about Oscar Martinez:

“Oscar is a seasoned professional and a great resource for Horizon Bank.  He has always been responsive and able to answer questions or meet with customers.  Horizon also appreciates his experience is serving loans.   The SBA 504 loan is a partnership loan with the bank.  Oscar helps make a strong partnership!” – Guy Perry, senior vice president, Horizon Bank-Austin

“When it comes to choosing a CDC, I am very picky.  I expect as much from their staff as I do from myself and that means if I call them I expect them to pick up the phone.  I have called many times after 5 p.m. and Oscar or his trusty assistant Aqueda Esparza have been there.  I have even received emails on weekends with updates.  That’s the type of service that truly goes above and beyond the normal and that’s what Oscar delivers.” –Fil Valderrama, senior vice president, First National Bank-Bastrop

“I find Oscar easy to work with, timely in his responses to me and knowledgeable about the 504 process. That’s why I stay in touch with Oscar.” – Luis Vallejo, business services officer, A+ Federal Credit Union

“Oscar is one of the best ‘go to’ guys in the SBA business. Deals today are increasingly complex and require a really thorough understanding of current SBA policies. If Oscar doesn’t have the answer, he get it fast, and, it’s always right.” – Mike Litton, senior vice president for lending, PlainsCapital Bank

“I had known Oscar for many years before I started with TxCDC in 2010.  I knew him as the go to guy for SBA 504 questions.  And after being with TxCDC for only a few weeks I realized he wasn’t just my go to guy but the staffs and many other bankers too.  I also realized his strong allegiance to customer service was unwavering.  Whatever it takes to satisfy a customer is his mantra.  I’ve learned in my many years of banking that you can train people to do tasks but good customer service is just something, which can’t be taught it must be in one’s nature. Oscar is a natural at serving his clients and staff.” –  Suzanna Caballero