Bezelee Martin, 83, an entrepreneur since the age of 14, knows well the formula for becoming a successful businessman.
Martin spoke to a class of students Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at Vincent High School who are participants with Junior Achievement, a nonprofit organization, which teaches financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurial skills to young people, starting at the K-5 grade level.
Martin is no stranger to business in the Milwaukee community. He founded the Lena’s Food Store business (named after his wife of 53 years) in 1965; and is currently its president and CEO. According to Martin, he has “never looked back.”
Imparting some of the knowledge he’s learned while in business, Martin told his audience of budding entrepreneurs one ingredient to being successful requires one to “enjoy doing what they do and doing it well, and put forth the effort and time.”
Describing how he became successful in the grocery business, Martin said his acquaintances decried his wanting to establish a business in close proximity to a large grocery chain store. “People said I was crazy,” Martin acknowledged. And he went on to offer his rationale for doing so. He said he wasn’t afraid to do so because he was going to do his very best.
“I went into the grocery business with the mindset that no one was going to beat me and I wasn’t afraid,” Martin confessed, adding, “God didn’t give my competition any more sense than I had. Just because they were larger didn’t mean they had more sense than me.”
Martin said he was a keen observer of his competition and he soon realized his competition couldn’t react to swift changes in the grocery business as he could. “My emphasis was learning what I could do that my competition couldn’t do, and where was their weakness,” Martin said.
Martin concluded, telling the students they could succeed at anything they want to be, but it requires them to think and do things based on what they are capable of doing.
Near the end of his half-hour presentation, Martin told a joke about two frogs who fell into a bucket of milk and couldn’t get out because they had no foundation to stand on.
While in the bucket, one frog kept peddling and gave up. The frog who gave up provided the foundation for the other frog to jump onto a foundation.
Lena’s Food Markets are located at: 4061 North 54th St. (Midtown)
4623 W. Burleigh Ave.
2322 W. Oak St.
4030 N. Teutonia Dr.
710 E. Capitol Dr.