The story of Servicon is the story of our people. Enio Martinez, Servicon’s Executive Vice President and head of Operations, which is the engine of our company, has a personal history everyone should hear. In fact, the Los Angeles Times agreed with our assessment and wrote an entire article about his life journey and success with Servicon. They detail his beginnings as a young immigrant to the United States selling ice cream in Los Angeles, his work as a custodial technician, and his path to becoming one of Servicon’s most senior leaders.
Enio’s is a story of determination, drive, and ingenuity, and can serve as an example to everyone about how you can make the best of what has been dealt to you, and that life can take you to unexpected places. We’re so proud of Enio and grateful that a publication as esteemed as the Los Angeles Times viewed him as such an inspiring figure. Read an English translation of the article below, or the original in Spanish at the link at the bottom:
La historia de Servicon es la historia de nuestra gente. Enio Martínez, vicepresidente ejecutivo y jefe de operaciones de Servicon, que es el motor de nuestra empresa, tiene una historia personal que todos deberían escuchar. De hecho, Los Angeles Times estuvo de acuerdo con nuestra evaluación y escribió un artículo completo sobre el transcurso de su vida y el éxito con Servicon. Detallan sus inicios como un joven inmigrante en los Estados Unidos vendiendo helados en Los Ángeles, su trabajo como técnico de custodia y su camino para convertirse en uno de los líderes más importantes de Servicon.
La historia de Enio es una de determinación, motivación, y puede servir como ejemplo para todos sobre cómo salir adelante, y que la vida te puede llevar a lugares inesperados. Estamos muy orgullosos de Enio y agradecidos de que una publicación tan estimada como Los Angeles Times lo haya visto como una figura tan inspiradora. Le el artículo en inglés y español a continuación:
The Immigrant Whose Cleaning Job Led Him to Lead a National Company
Los Angeles – His hands were callused at 18 years old. With them he sold up to 500 ice cream cones eight hours a day, five days a week, and in the evenings, he worked as a janitor in Los Angeles County.
Back in Guatemala, where Enio Martínez was born, he had graduated as an elementary school teacher and his dream was to serve the children of his community. When the young man wanted to work in his profession, his mother, Mrs. Clara Luz Lemuz, told him: “I’d rather see you far away, in the United States, than here dead.” Then Martínez had to make the decision to flee his country on December 6, 1987. In that decade, his country had been devastated by political violence, guerrillas, and even murders between neighboring rival families of several generations; deaths that often went unpunished. When Martínez was a child, his family suffered this type of violence in their neighborhood of Agua Blanca. At the age of nine, Enio’s father, Mr. Gustavo Adolfo Martínez, was murdered by the children of a neighbor who mistakenly thought he wanted to shoot their father with a gun. “The cemetery in my village, Quequesque, had more dead people than those of us who lived in that area. I grew up seeing dead people lying on street corners because of all that violence,” said Martínez, now 53.
When Martínez arrived in California, the young man lived with Arminda, a sister 15years older than him, who had previously also left her country looking for a better life. “But even living with my sister. I cried on many occasions… I wanted to return to my mother, my friends and life as a teacher,” he said. But for Martínez there was no turning back. The young man enrolled at Evans Adult School to learn English but had to drop out to work full time and learned the language on his own by watching TV, listening to music, and reading street signs. For Martínez, there was no time to complain or regret his decision. About three months after arriving in the United States, the young man got a job as an ice cream salesman for the old Thrifty drugstore chain on the Wilshire and Western intersection. A short time later he would get another second job as a janitor. “Selling ice cream is the most difficult job, your hands get calluses because when you scoop hard ice cream out of the trays you have to apply pressure,” said Martínez. Likewise, “as a janitor at a company named Advance, the continuous use of my hands to sweep, dust, restore marble, pick up trash, and clean, turned those palms and fingers accustomed to using pencil and paper into two sandpapers. “I burned myself out studying… and in the United States none of that was valid,” said the immigrant with a laugh. “I laugh because I didn’t know what was waiting for me in this country…I didn’t know my future. Now I feel very satisfied,” he added.
It turned out that years later, the same cleaning job that Martínez was initially embarrassed by, opened the door to success now as vice president of Servicon, a leading commercial cleaning company in Culver City. “First of all, I had to stop playing the victim, thinking that I was in control of my future. If I fall, I have the right to fall, but also to get up,” he said. He kept up that hard work and positive mentality for two years, until things changed for him in 1989. At that time, Martínez began to see that cleaning work was an honorable task, and it even began to intrigue him, so he decided to attend different cleaning exhibitions and learn more about the trade. That same year, the young man, now 20, went to ask for a job at Servicon, which serves the aerospace industry, hospitals, life sciences, commercial, and industrial companies. Without many expectations, the young man came to the company sharing his experience and skills and ended up getting a job as an assistant cleaning supervisor, which consisted of overseeing a group of people who work in maintenance, ensuring customer satisfaction and scheduling.
By 1991, the immigrant had already been promoted to area manager, a similar job to supervisor, but one that oversees servicing more than 20 buildings. “You must love what you do, be interested in it, and try to be the best. You think that it doesn’t make a difference, but it does… it happened with me,” he said. Martínez wanted to continue learning more about cleaning and maintenance, his goal was now to serve more people in the healthcare sector. In 1991, he then went to one of Servicon’s competitors, a company called Pedus, that focused on working with hospitals. Enio joined that company as a cleaning supervisor at Harbor UCLA in Torrance, which was, in fact, a demotion instead of a promotion. “There were colleagues who told me that I was making the wrong decisions, that I was crazy, but my vision was to learn to do something more in the long term,” he said. However, Martínez did not have documents to legally work in the United States, so he had to tell his boss, who offered him a sponsorship to legalize his stay. Through the years, Martinez became an area manager, then a district manager, director of operations, and finally vice president of operations for Pedus.
By 2006, Pedus decided to sell its operations in the United States, and Servicon, the first company Martínez worked for, bought the shares. Around that time, Martínez received a call from Servicon, asking him to return to work with them. On December 6, 2006, the same date that Martínez arrived in the United States, the rising star returned to Servicon, now as Director of Operations and, three years later, as Executive Vice President, his current position, and oversees the entire company operation in 11 states. “The bosses don’t just take your word for things, but they do really see your actions, and no one gets better by complaining,” said Martínez.
Michael Mahdesian, Servicon’s chairman of the board and member of ownership, says that choosing Martinez as executive vice president was one of the company’s best decisions. “My father, Servicon founder Richard Mahdesian, saw Enio’s talent when he was just a young man, and as it developed, he trusted him above all others to lead the operations department,” Mahdesian said Servicon is a family business and has been operated by several generations of the Mahdesian family. It celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2023 and says that without Martínez it would not be as successful. “Enio exemplifies Servicon’s values: treat everyone with kindness and respect, and always tell the truth, even when it’s difficult. He is always learning, growing, and adapting to changing environments, and he is completely accountable”, he maintained. Susan Matt, Servicon’s director of customer experience credits Martinez for the position she currently holds. “I learned a lot from him. When I was new to the industry, he believed in me and saw that I could have a real career even before I did,” she said. Martinez taught Matt all about contracts, pricing, negotiation, and leading a team of people from different backgrounds. “I remember when we got a big contract, I got so excited I ran down the hall jumping up and down. Enio high-fived me and then told the rest of the executives that I deserved most of the credit,” she said. For Martínez, the United States continues to be the country of opportunity, but he emphasizes that no one gets success for free, rather immigrants must create the mentality to get ahead no matter where they work. “My goals are to keep learning and teach people that the job of a janitor- or as we prefer to say, custodial technician, is respectable and that it contributes greatly to the health of society,” he said. “It’s not until this pandemic that people really noticed the importance of this industry, which rarely gets the credit it deserves,” he said.
By Selena Rivera –
Originally from Mexico City, Selene Rivera began her journalism career in 2004, in Los Angeles, California. Rivera worked for the bilingual newspaper Eastern Group Publications as an editor, translator and writer on politics, education, immigration, health, and community until her experience opened the doors for her as a freelance journalist at HOY. Rivera currently contributes informative stories from Southern California. Selene Rivera began her journalism career in 2004 in Los Angeles. She previously worked for the bilingual newspaper Eastern Group Publications as an editor, translator and writer on politics, education, immigration, health, and community issues until her experience de ella opened the doors for her as a freelancer for HOY.
Rivera currently writes for the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Times en Español.