2 minute read

Arthur C. Martinez: 1939—: Businessman

Gained Corporate Experience

Martinez's first job after Harvard was for Enjay Chemical, which later became Exxon. After learning that career advancement in the chemical industry would be slow, Martinez became the director of planning for new ventures for International Paper in New York City in 1967. Two years later he moved to the mergers and acquisitions division of Talley Industries in Arizona. In 1970 Martinez accepted an offer as a director of business planning for RCA record company in New York City. Four years later Martinez was promoted to head the international division of RCA.

When Martinez was in business school he did not plan to build a career in the retail industry. However, in 1980 he received an offer to become senior vice president and chief financial officer for Saks Fifth Avenue. Martinez was interested in trying out retail as a new experience. While at Saks Martinez learned that store personality was an important aspect of the business. "Carving out that personality and making sure it was distinctive was crucial. You had to understand that philosophy, stay consistent with it, and not vacillate," Martinez explained in his autobiography.

In 1986 Martinez accepted a promotion to senior vice president and group chief executive for BATUS, Inc., the parent company of Saks Fifth Avenue. For nearly four years Martinez worked in Louisville, Kentucky, running the retail businesses of Saks, Marshall Field's, Ivey's Department Stores, and Breuners. Saks was eventually sold to Investcorp and Martinez was invited to return to Saks in New York City in 1990 as a vice chairman. Martinez became unhappy with the intrusive management style of Investcorp so he eventually left Saks in 1992.

Martinez had lined up a new job with Swiss company P.A. Bergner, which owned Bergner's in Milwaukee and Carson Pirie Scott in Chicago. He was going to help Bergner out of bankruptcy when he got a call from Herb Mines, an executive headhunter, while vacationing in Maine. Mines informed Martinez that Sears, Roebuck, and Co. wanted to talk with him about helping their flailing company. Martinez was reluctant to consider the offer with Sears because he already had a verbal agreement to join Bergner. However, after a visit from Sears CEO Ed Brennan, who assured Martinez that he would have the authority and money to make major changes at Sears, Martinez accepted the challenge to reinvent one of America's best known department stores. "There were only two reasons not to take the job," Martinez told John McCormick of Newsweek. "Either it couldn't be done or I couldn't do it."

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Al Loving Biography - Loved Painting from Early Age to Alice McGill Biography - PersonalArthur C. Martinez: 1939—: Businessman Biography - Learned Value Of Money From Parents, Gained Corporate Experience, Revamped Sears, Found The Softer Side Of Sears