Getting to Know You: Pedro Martin, Owner and Chairman of Terra International Development, LLC

Pedro Martin of Miami is the Co-Founder, Owner, and Chairman of Terra, a Miami-based real estate development firm overseeing nearly $8 billion of development projects which cover 5 million square feet of residential and commercial property across the region.

Since 2001, Pedro Martin has spearheaded the company’s development and capital-raising efforts, driving Terra’s remarkable growth and transformation into one of the top development firms in South Florida.

Prior to Terra, Pedro Martin practiced real estate law at the law firm of Greenberg Traurig. During his 25-year tenure there, he represented financial institutions and real estate developers in Miami and throughout the surrounding area.

Over the last 20 years, Pedro Martin and Terra Group have made top-quality land acquisitions throughout South Florida. These properties are geographically spread across the region, beginning along the inter-coastal area in Miami Beach, moving through the Dadeland-based Metropolis project, and crossing into the Omni area near downtown Miami. Terra then began development projects in and around downtown Miami, Coconut Grove, Doral, and other strategically chosen areas. Pedro Martin and Terra have developed a number of notable projects over the years, including Quantum on the Bay, the Freedom Tower Site at 600 Biscayne Bay, 900 Biscayne Bay, Nautica, Metropolis, Grove at Grand Bay, Glass, Park Grove, Botaniko, The Reserve, Doral Cay, Vintage Place and Vintage Estates in Doral, and Las Ramblas and Las Sevillas in West Miami.

In addition to real estate, Pedro Martin has a genuine passion for South Florida and the many communities that make it so special. This is exemplified by Martin’s ongoing involvement in a variety of nonprofit organizations, including the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, The Building donation of the Miami Freedom Tower, the Baptist Hospital Foundation, Coconut Arts Festival, and many others. Additionally, Pedro serves on the Board of the Performing Arts Center and several other boards of cultural and nonprofit organizations.

Pedro Martin has received various acknowledgments and awards during his career, including mention in the Who’s Who in American Law, and selection as one of the best real estate lawyers in the U.S. by Super Lawyers Magazine. In 2006, Pedro was honored by the Miami Herald as the ‘No. 1 Home Builder in Sales.’ That same year, Pedro was also named ‘Developer of the Year’ by the American Institute of Architecture and was celebrated as the ‘Largest Residential Developer’ by the South Florida Business Journal. Regarding academic accreditations, Pedro Martin earned his undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Florida, and his law degree from that same institution. He also earned a Masters of Business Administration degree from Rollins College.

What do you currently do at your company? 

When I co-founded the company with my son in 2001, we started out very small, with just a single property in Miami Beach. Back then, I was out there physically doing a lot of the repairs and renovations myself. I kept very busy with details, learning new skills as needed, making sure that I wasn’t making any errors, and taking great care to execute each individual step. It wasn’t a management type of job back then. As our business grew over time, we had to start hiring people to do all that detailed work that we had  previously been doing ourselves—people who could do all that stuff as well or better than we had been doing it. Anyhow, Terra quickly became a team effort. Eventually, we grew to the point where it made the most sense for me to stop doing the actual physical labor and move into more of a purely managerial and supervisory role. That’s where I am now. My position as Chairman, Co-Founder, and Owner is to plan out our overall real estate strategy, take a lead role in our flagship development projects, and raise investment capital to fund new ventures. 

What was the inspiration behind your business?

Even when I was a practicing real estate lawyer, I always knew that I wanted to go into business for myself at some point, and because of my experience representing developers, I thought real estate might be the avenue in which to do so. When my son graduated from college and told me he also wanted to get into the real estate industry, I thought it was a golden opportunity to actually take a shot at my dream. We joined forces and founded Terra. With a lot of hard work, a solid business plan, and a little luck, we have since grown the company into a genuine force to be reckoned with in the South Florida real estate industry.

What defines your way of doing business?

Simply put, we are very good at what we do. The properties we develop are on superior land. The structures we build on them are of the highest quality. Our condominiums and apartment buildings are luxurious and well-constructed, while our commercial properties are located in high-traffic areas within desirable neighborhoods, and are in high-demand because of that. We select the sites of our projects with the utmost care, positioning them in areas to maximize their potential.

What keys to being productive can you share?

I think the one of the biggest keys to productivity is being able to network well. Although, on the face of it, some people might not think of effective networking skills as a key to greater productivity, once you think about it for a moment, it becomes pretty obvious.

For example, say that during the course of my duties as an executive for Terra, or perhaps in my capacity as an officer and board member for the various nonprofits I work with, I become friendly with a person who is well-positioned in a construction firm. The next time I need construction services, I will give that person a call and see if we can work out an understanding to complete the job. And the same sort of situation can play out with many different people across many different professions and walks of life. You never know when a casual acquaintance might become a valuable business contact. That’s why, in the past, business cards were so useful. And I suppose that’s why, in the present day, social media platforms like LinkedIn are so useful. Ultimately, knowing how to network well will always save you time, money, and hassle—and that is pretty much the definition of being productive.

Tell us one long-term goal in your career.

At this point in my career, I’m looking ahead to my retirement. As such, the most important goal I have is to leave Terra in a healthy state of increasing growth and market share in order to hand it off to the next generation of leaders. I suppose you could say that I’m trying to preserve not only my legacy, but the company’s legacy, as well. Professionally, that is the only goal that concerns me, right now.

What would you tell your younger self?

If I could travel back in time to counsel my younger self, I would encourage him to explore entrepreneurship much earlier in life. I started my career as a professional, first as an engineer, then as a lawyer. In both roles, I worked with large and well-respected firms. In doing so, I learned to work within a team, I learned to appreciate design and quality workmanship, and I learned the supreme importance of hard work. But I didn’t really find my true calling until I left that world and, together with my son, created a business. I wish I would’ve tried my hand at that sooner.

What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?

I love spending time with my family. Beyond that, I also love to watch NBA basketball. Specifically, I’m a gigantic fan of the Miami Heat.

How would your colleagues describe you?

I think my peers would describe me as thorough, quality-oriented, level-headed, and approachable. I think they would also say that I always operate with an eye on the future.

What is one piece of technology that helps you the most in your daily routine?

Recently, we’ve begun using some new data-driven computer accounting software at Terra, and the results have been fantastic. It’s improved efficiency in that area of the business significantly.

As for my daily routine, my answer would have to be video teleconferencing software, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Back in 2020, we adopted this kind of software in order to allow our employees to do their business remotely, much like many other organizations did at the height of the pandemic. However, we couldn’t help but notice how much easier it made communicating with one another, and so we decided to keep it as the main way we conduct meetings. Now, no one has to fly in from out of town or commute from three cities over just to sit in a conference room for a single meeting.

What are a few influential books you’ve read and/or websites you keep up with that you’d recommend?

Larry Bossidy, the Chairman of Honeywell International, wrote a book called Execution: The Business of Getting Things Done which I heartily recommend. The Age of the Customer is another book that I think contains some really valuable information. That one is written by Jim Blasingame, who is a highly-regarded expert on small businesses and entrepreneurship.

What advice would you give to aspiring to succeed in your field?

The most important thing is to just stick with it and genuinely work hard. In business, sometimes bad things happen that are beyond your control. It could be anything; a downturn in the economy, a pandemic like COVID, or a major weather event. You can’t control events like that. But you can respond to events like that with the factors that you can control, such as retaining loyal customers, hiring the talented and intelligent people, and using the right consultants. I would emphasize that last example particularly. Consultants are really important because a small business usually doesn’t have the resources to hire experts to deal with every single aspect of their operations in any kind of long-term or permanent sense. So, my advice is this: When faced with a bad situation, leverage every advantage at your disposal and just try to plow through the challenge. You’ll get through it, and the experience you acquire as a result will teach you patience. It’s important to understand that successful businesses aren’t built overnight. At Terra, it’s taken us two decades to be where we are now, and we have dealt with our share of setbacks along the way. In another two decades, hopefully, we’ll be in an even better position.