Martin Downs

Business Manager, J. Fletcher Creamer & Son, Inc. (an APi Group company) in Hackensack, New Jersey

I’ve always been passionate about athletics. I played football and lacrosse all through high school and into college. I really think that’s when I started to develop my leadership skills. You learn to work with people and how to get through to your teammates, and you have that responsibility to be the coach on the field. I think that taught me how to interact with people and motivate them.

The Mentorship Continuum

I interned with J. Fletcher Creamer & Son in college and started working there full-time as a project engineer in 2004 after I graduated. The projects we construct are diverse, everything from roads and bridges and pump stations to underground utilities, guide rail, signs, substations, power plants, etc. I started in the heavy highway sector, working on roads and bridges and those types of projects. Early in my career, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to report directly to the vice president of engineering, who became one of my mentors. In 2007, I must have earned enough of his trust that he promoted me to project manager. In 2016 I was promoted again to business manager, and now I have five project managers reporting to me and I’m responsible for an area office.

He taught me a lot about how to conduct myself and how to be an all-around effective leader. And our vice president of operations, has also been instrumental to my success and an advocate for my advancement. He just wants to teach you everything he’s learned over the years and give you everything he’s got. Then Fletch Creamer himself saw something in me, I guess, and has treated me like family.

Today I report to our current president, Joe Walsh, who is mentoring me in the ways of being a business manager and how to get out of the weeds to see the bigger picture. He’s the one who recommended me for APi Group’s Accelerated Readiness Program. It’s a stellar program, and really prepares you for the bigger roles of leadership and leading organizations to success.

Stronger Together

In terms of my leadership, I’m not where I want to be yet. It’s a journey, but it needs to be a journey. I try to remember that and take time out to let younger employees learn on their own. I don’t lay out step-by-step directions on how to get things done. Instead, I give them broad boundaries and real-time feedback so they can correct their course. I try to be transparent and communicate openly with them, and it’s amazing what they can do and how they come up with some really out-of-the-box solutions to problems and issues.

In my personal life, I have a very close extended family and I think aspects of that fall over into work. I try to develop that family kind of feel where we hold each other accountable and we push each other. It’s a team. We’re not out there to make each other look bad. We have each other’s back.