Fireside Chat with a Champ

2019 NRMCA National Mixer Driver Championship Winner, Luis Martinez, Sits Down with Command Alkon and Opens up About Life as a Title-Holder

If you keep up with current events in the concrete industry, or if you’re an active member of the NRMCA, you have probably heard Luis Martinez’s name before. Luis has been a ready mix driver for Maschmeyer Concrete for the last six years, but 34-year-old Luis has been behind the wheel of construction materials trucks since the young age of 15! Nearly 15 out of his 19 years of experience have been on the ready mix side.

Luis is extremely passionate about driving, but he gets it honest. His father owned a heavy equipment company, so Luis grew up in the environment and has lived and breathed this industry for a very long time. Luis is from the island of Saint Croix in the US Virgin Islands. He moved to Florida in 2014, where he joined the Maschmeyer team, and he has been with them ever since. Having grown up in the industry, Luis has the skill set that enables him to wear many different hats at Maschmeyer. His primary role is a driver, but he can also do a little bit of everything. Sometimes he’ll batch, run the loader, help with QC, and sometimes even help in the maintenance department. 

So, you might be wondering why the name Luis Martinez rings a bell? Luis competed in the NRMCA’s National Ready Mix Driver Competition last year and took the gold back home to Florida!

We had a chance to catch up with Luis for a moment to ask him about the competition, what life has been like for him since he took first place, and to get to know him on a more personal level.

The road to nationals is a three-step process.

The way that Maschmeyer Concrete determines which driver gets to represent their company at the state level is by hosting a company picnic and rodeo (during his six years with the company, Luis has placed 1st three times, 2nd once, and 3rd once). The winner of the picnic and rodeo moves on to compete in the state-level competition, and then the winner of that competition moves on to nationals. Think about the number of drivers there are to beat out to get to that national-level competition – and Luis has made it to the nationals more than once! It’s safe to say that he is a master of his craft.

At the NRMCA National Ready Mix Driver Competition, contenders undergo a written test; a defects test, where drivers conduct a thorough pre-trip examination in just 5 minutes; an evaluation of response time; and an assessment of their vehicle-handling skills.

Given Luis’ proven success in what he does, I was curious if he ever feels threatened by any of the competition. He said that he always sees each driver as competition – the drivers come from all over the world, and they have also competed in several competitions to make it to the national level. He always stays humble and appreciates those drivers for the hard work that they do.

“I have a lot of respect for all ready mix drivers. This is a risky business, and we’re often put in dangerous situations from other drivers on the road. It’s difficult to have to be able to react to what’s going on around you while you’re carrying that type of load in a short body.”

Maschmeyer’s Safety Director and Environmental Manager, Bob Tucker, also serves as Luis’ coach and always prepares him for what to expect in the competition with some hands-on training. 

“I do everything very quickly, and Bob always reminds me to slow it down and be very thorough. So, shout out to Bob. I’m grateful for his guidance and helping me to compete at the best of my ability.”

We asked Luis how his life has been over the last year since taking first place. He said that he’s been overwhelmed with gratitude and that he is often recognized by other companies and individuals in the heavy work space. Just a month after the NRMCA competition at the national level, there was another state competition, which he also placed 1st in. Before the competition began, it was evident that many people knew who Luis was. Gary Mullings, Executive Vice President/Division Head, Compliance and Operations for the NRMCA, was one of the judges at the state competition following nationals. He presented Luis with his first place trophy for both competitions, which was a huge honor for Luis.

Maschmeyer Concrete is also extremely proud of their champion. They recognize Luis at corporate events, and his colleagues can often be heard yelling, “There goes the champ!” from across the room. 

Company culture is everything these days. Luis has truly found a home at Maschmeyer Concrete.

“What sets Maschmeyer apart is that they are a Florida-based, small company and that's how Troy (Maschmeyer) likes it. He likes to know his people on a name-to-name basis, and I love that about this company! These people are like family to me.”

This kind of company culture fosters an environment for individuals to not only contribute to the success of the organization, but to succeed and achieve the goals that they have set for themselves.

“Maschmeyer had been trying to get to the national competition for 12 years, but it was just never in the cards. Then, in 2017, one driver came in 2nd, which was as close as they had ever come to the actual title. I was so happy and overwhelmed that I could bring that title to Maschmeyer last year in 2019. “

With 19 years of experience at such a young age, we were curious to know what’s changed about the industry in that span of time. Luis said the trucks are much better now, and that it almost feels like driving a car. Now that the trucks are automatic, it’s stripped an element of excitement from driving because you don’t have to constantly shift gears. However, the better the truck, the better the service that can be delivered to the customer, which is what is most important to Luis.

So, who is Luis Martinez, really?!

Well.. we probably didn’t ask enough questions to take a super deep dive, but we did find out that Luis is a girl dad – four girls, to be exact. We’re willing to bet that some of Luis’ time might be spent having tea parties or watching Frozen while he isn’t behind the wheel.

Luis also likes to DJ. He gets that honest, too; his father was also a DJ. Music is in his blood!

He DJs at weddings, parties, clubs, and he also has a radio station gig. You can bet that next time we’re in Luis’ area, we’re hitting him up to find out where he’s playing! Command Alkon’s corporate marketing team loves a good DJ!

He also loves to restore classic Volkswagens in his spare time.

If you’re wondering if Luis is planning to compete again, the answer is YES. Luis can’t wait to bring his A-game back into the competition and do what he loves to do.

We truly appreciate Luis for speaking with us, and we are so grateful for the service that he and all ready mix truck drivers provide to our industry and to our communities as a whole! We wish Luis the best of luck in his next competition and are thrilled to follow along with his journey in the years to come.

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