The Early Years
1939 – George J Martin & Son, Inc. was founded by George Martin Sr. as a unionized electrical contracting company serving the Albany, NY area.
1955 – Donald Hart, at age 23, was accepted into the IBEW apprenticeship program and put to work at George J Martin & Son, under the leadership of George Martin Jr. At this time, George J Martin & Son, Inc., employed roughly 80 IBEW electricians and was one of only six companies in the electrical contracting industry.
Due to his outstanding work ethic and attention to detail, Don quickly moved through the ranks from working as an apprentice to holding a foremanship position on large commercial projects. One of the projects he managed in the 1960s was the Civil Defense Center, which relocated the government’s communications center roughly 20ft underground at Morton Ave. in Albany in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis and threat of Nuclear War.
~1965 – Don was promoted to take on a leadership position in the business where he was responsible for overseeing all facets of the company, including estimating, project management, accounting, and human resources.
Company Ownership Evolution
1975 – George Martin Jr. decided to retire and, with no familial legacy, offered Don the opportunity to buy the business. Due to the weakening economy, especially in the construction industry, many people close to Don, including George Martin himself, advised he may be “getting in over his head” in purchasing the business. Despite the uncertainty and with seven children to feed, Don Hart decided to take on the challenge and purchased the business from George Martin Jr. on July 9, 1975 with roughly 10 employees remaining.
The Hart family remained very close to George Martin until his passing. As a way to honor the loyalty and commitment the Martin family showed to Don, the company name did not change with the changing of hands. In later years, the company was rebranded to “Martin Electric,” which provides a better sense of the business function while continuing to carry on the Martin legacy.
Energized by Harts since 1975
It was Don Hart’s vision to grow Martin Electric through a relationship-driven strategy that focused on his employees and customers. Under his stewardship, Don made two commitments, which hold true today:
- Do all that he could to keep his employees working even in downtimes.
- Honor his contracts and promise to provide quality workmanship even if it meant a loss of profits.
One of the company’s most memorable and gratifying moments was being awarded a redundant power job with New York Telephone Company. It wasn’t a marquee project, but due to the quality of workmanship and relationship management, Martin Electric remains working for the company and in the building today, more than 40 years later. MetLife and Sterling Drug Co, now Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, share similar accounts of the quality electrical installations and maintenance that the company has been providing for over four decades.
In the trenches, there stood Don Hart always listening to the heartbeat of the company. He took the time to know his employees, navigate challenges together, and empower them to become leaders and help shape the future. Committed to quality, Don didn’t hesitate to have work redone if he didn’t approve of the workmanship.
While Don was managing the operations from the trenches, Don’s wife Joan Hart, was running the office in downtown Albany with a finger on the pulse of the company’s lifeline – the finances. With an intimate understanding of the company’s cash flow, Joan was responsible for making all financial decisions as it came to capital spending and what projects were acceptable to bid based on her risk tolerance. While the nature of this business is filled with risk, Joan was optimistically cautious and took calculated risks ensuring the company could always make timely payments to its employees and suppliers.
1980s and 1990s – The company was on a growth trajectory, expanding both its customer and employee base. Adding to the employee base was Don’s son, Brian, and daughters, Sue and Kristen. Brian followed in his father’s footsteps and became an IBEW electrician working in the field for over 20 years before becoming actively involved in company operations and taking on a key role of managing customer relationships. Kristen and Sue, both having earned their Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Accounting, assisted Joan with the backend responsibilities, overseeing Accounts Payable and Human Resources, respectively.
1992 – After 37 years in the business and having achieved much success, Don decided to retire at the age of 62 to spend time with his 18 grandchildren (and counting). With almost two decades as a trusted advisor, there was no one more qualified to take over the reins than Joan Hart. Joan Hart became President and continues in that role today.