As he walks past storefronts along Main Street in downtown Miami Lakes, Danny Martinez takes inventory: Which beauty business is about to open, restaurants that may be coming to town, whether a retailer could be a good fit with neighboring tenants.
Martinez, 34, is the newest leasing agent in the commercial division of The Graham Companies, which built and owns Main Street and five shopping centers in Miami Lakes.
After seven years with the Miami Heat, the digital strategist joined Facebook in San Francisco, where he marketed video ads on the platform on behalf of professional sports leagues.
Martinez moved home and this year, joined the family firm.
He recently signed his first tenant, La Diosa Taqueria -- a Mexican restaurant owned by the same folks who run the organic food and drink spot with the same name that is in Little Havana -- to fill the space that once held the Beverly Hills Café in the Cypress Village Shopping Center.
“I’m starting to see with La Diosa, my work will have a direct impact on the community, my community,” Martinez said.
He lives in town with his wife Elissa Martinez, a marriage and family therapist who is director of clinical operations at Bright Therapeutics, a mental health products company. She is also pursuing a Ph.D. in counseling at Barry University. They have a toddler son named Jack.
Pitching the town to prospective tenants as a good place for business is not a hard sell, Martinez said.
“That’s really fun and exciting to me, to talk to people who want to come to Miami Lakes,” he said. “I’ve had a few people tell me they were impressed with how I pitched the town.
“But I don’t pitch the town,” he said. “I believe in the community. I just tell them the truth about it. “It’s more fun than I anticipated,” he said.
Martinez is among the fourth generation of Graham descendants who are working for the company, and that includes his cousin and close colleague, Philip Wyllie, leasing manager for Graham Commercial.
The cousins grew up next door to each other in the Lake Elizabeth neighborhood on the west side of town.
Their mothers – Beth Graham Martinez and Wyllie’s mother, Carol Graham Wyllie -- are sisters who share the same title, executive vice president of The Graham Companies.
The women are two of the five children of the late William A. Graham, who developed Miami Lakes from the family’s cow pastures.
Their fathers are Luis Martinez, senior executive vice president of The Graham Companies and Stuart Wyllie, the president and chief executive officer.
Martinez’s hometown ties include his education: He attended Miami Lakes Elementary, Miami Lakes Middle School, and then St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale.
He earned a degree in business management from Florida International University in 2013.
Martinez worked for the residential side of the family firm during summers while he was a teenager and college student, doing “a lot of grunt work,” such as painting the exteriors of apartment buildings and the “huge wall along the Meadow Walk Apartments, and I did that several years in a row.”
Now he gets to work with people who want to grow businesses in Miami Lakes.
Martinez says it takes a special kind of owner to prosper in town.
“I tell this to everyone I show space to: The only people I want in Miami Lakes are the people who will invest their time and energy and everything they’ve got in the community,” Martinez said.
“The businesses that succeed here, whether a shop or restaurant or business, are the ones that ingratiate themselves into Miami Lakes,” he said.
That can mean sponsoring charity fundraisers or public events and supporting holiday traditions and celebrations.
“Especially with the restaurants, they should have people there who interact with the community,” Martinez said. “They don’t hire a manager and walk away. They’re not absentee.”
And he can see in real time how a business owner’s participation in Miami Lakes’ civic and cultural life pays off.
“I get to live here and eat here and enjoy all our offerings, and it’s important to me to go where they are invested in the residents,” Martinez said. “The residents are sharp and if you put your work into it, they’ll reward you.
“One hundred percent, the community will love you back,” he said.
Martinez can be reached at DannyM@GrahamCos.com or 305-817-4107.