DETROIT (WXYZ) — August is National Black Business month, and to celebrate, each week on The Rebound Detroit, we’re introducing 7 Action News viewers to a thriving local Black-owned business.
From hospitality to beauty, home services and retail; all month long we’re shining a light on the struggles and the triumphs these businesses and their owners have seen over the last year and a half, and the impact they’re making on the community.
You’ve likely already seen the impact Martin Technologies and Martin Motorsports has had on classic and newer cars, perhaps without even knowing it.
Chairman and CEO Harold Martin runs a national and global leader in automotive innovation, and it all started on the race track.
“Racing for me actually started at childhood. My dad was involved as a hobby. And we did very well racing,” Martin told Action News at his Novi facility.
During the course of his career, he’s worked alongside some big names in racing, including Carroll Shelby.
But his journey didn’t stop on the track; from the very beginning Martin’s vision for his company was to make cars run faster, smarter, and safer using technology.
“It’s about raising the bar. How do we take it to another level,” Martin said.
Martin Technologies has worked with some of the biggest automakers in the world, producing upgrades to cars you’lll see on the racetracks and on the freeways; he’s influenced around 250 cars you’ll see at this year’s Dream Cruise.
Martin may have traded in his racing gear for a suit most days, but you’ll still catch him checking things out in the garage too where he and his team among other things, can take classic cars and give them modern capabilities that are often computer controlled.
With the COVID-19 pandemic came the chip shortage and other supply chain headaches that impacted the entire auto industry. Martin saw it as a chance to re-set and re-focus how to best use new technology in all kinds of cars. And he’s got help from family too, in his son Harold Martin II.
“Wanting to be a part of that culture and seeing it expand just as he has done,” said the younger Martin, who’s the automotive wiring and motorsports manager at Martin Technologies.
He’s helped build a simulated bench which shows the wiring functions of an actual car. He gave us a run-through inside the Martin Technologies lab in Novi.
“You have different engine components, we have headlights we test, we have a battery that’s the power source to everything,” the younger Martin explained.
It’s all part of the company’s smart wire module, already in the works for some future vehicles; the idea is to replace thousands of feet of heavy, bulky wiring in cars with more precise technology using sensors to make cars lighter and more affordable.
“We think the auto industry is going through a major transformation and we want to be part of it,” the senior Martin said.
He’s always dreamed big, but Harold Martin said it wasn’t the first big job or big contract he celebrated but rather the one’s after that, which he said prove the ability to meet clients’ needs no matter what. And often, in some pretty creative ways,.
“Not often can they describe everything that they’re asking of you,” he said. “And you’ve got to have the intuition to be able to think through that. So when you start to see the second and third order and then when you start to see multi-year contracts.. that’s when you start to feel wow, we’re doing something right.”