Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia. It is a paradisematic country, in which roasted parts of sentences fly into your mouth.
Marin started exhibiting the hustle of an entrepreneur early on. “I always had aspirations of being my own boss,” he said. “At 19, I picked up a vending route and that grew to about 100 accounts from Corpus Christi all the way down to the Rio Grande Valley. At the same time, I had a full-time job at the Texas Department of Corrections. So I would do that job from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays and then I’d do my vending route on Saturdays and Sundays for 10 years.”
In 1997, Marin purchased a Subway franchise while he was still working with the prison system. Five years later, he left the prison system, took funds out of his retirement account and purchased two more Subways. Eventually, his restaurant empire grew to nine of these sandwich shops. After the restaurant was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1999, Marin saw his profits double over night.
In 2002, he sold his Subways for a substantial profit and moved to St. Martin where he met and married his wife. The couple operated five Subways on the island before returning to Texas to raise a family. Once back in the Lone Star State, the couple bought a hotel and multiple fast-food restaurants.
Marin purchased his first laundromat in Alice in 2013. “We went in there and retooled the whole thing and then rebranded it,” Marin said. “That’s where we came up with the name, The Laundry Depot.” He quickly found that he liked the laundromat business because it was the opposite of the restaurant business, which was time-intensive because of staffing and high-turnover. In contrast, each Laundry Depot, which employs 4-5 individuals, has only one on-duty attendant at peak times. In fact, the laundromats can operate without any staffing at all.
Using the concept of Buc-ee’s as a model, Marin is creating additional Laundry Depots across South Texas. “We want these to be bigger, better and faster,” Marin said. The new sites, which are more than 5,000 square feet, have 80-pound washing machines, 60-inch televisions, free coffee, free wifi, credit card acceptors and a loyalty program. Millennials are especially attracted to the business’s service, in which employees wash, dry and fold the customer’s laundry for $1 a pound.
Marin connected with TxCDC in 2012 after being disappointed by another loan packager. Over the years, the entrepreneur has developed a strong partnership with TxCDC’s consultants and staff, who work closely with Marin, his CPA, the bank and the SBA to seamlessly process the loan application. “I met (now-retired TxCDC consultant) Bob Nance and it was like heaven,” Marin recalled. “I just gave him the information one time and he asked for what he needed one time. The next thing you know, we were closing.” In the wake of Nance’s retirement, Marin has connected with Nance’s successor, Sandra Navarro, and finds that the SBA 504 loan approval process remains as smooth as ever.
The South Texas businessman believes that SBA 504 loans are a very wise business decision. “You always hear about OPM – other people’s money,” Marin said. “To me, an SBA 504 is exactly OPM because I only put 10 percent of my cash down. These deals for our last laundromats were $1.5 million and $1.7 million, but I only have to put $150,000 down. A bank literally wants 20-25 percent down. So where else can you get that kind of loan for 10 percent down? To me, it’s the best thing the SBA has ever done.”