Like the gift that keeps on giving, a single piece of advice that Martz Witty’s father imparted on him has steered Martz through a succession of businesses, a divorce and two retirement attempts, to the head of an empire he built from scratch.
To top it off, he’s done it all while refuting the notion that there’s no place for fun in the realm of the professional elite.
The piece of advice in question? That it’s the journey, not the destination. And as Martz adds, “Destinations have a habit of being a moveable feast, which is just terrific!”
You schmoose, you most-certainly-do-not lose
When I arrived at the new offices of the Martz Group I expected a hospitable reception, but had I known what I was stepping into, I would have arrived a lot earlier.
Things were off to a great start when I was presented with an elaborate drinks menu to peruse. I chose a Coke, as many a millennial would, and it was delivered on a tray accompanied by a snack-size packet Tim Tam. Coke and Tim Tams literally delivered on a platter – had somebody tipped them off?
No, they hadn’t. This calibre of hospitality is what the Martz Group has become renowned for and why employees and clients alike genuinely look forward to their time spent with the Group.
Any good businessperson knows that good hospitality extends to more than just the present moment – it has a lasting, direct result on personal and professional attitudes and ergo, on the success of the businesses those persons attach themselves to.
After spending only minutes in Martz’s presence it became clear that the iconic, contagiously sociable ambience was a genuine, living, breathing, 4D result of company culture at its finest, and one that filters down from the top, from Martz himself.
I had entered the stratosphere of the Martz Group and I had been struck by the Martz effect.
“Who says you can’t be professional and fun to work with? My surname’s Witty; I was destined to entertain”
Martin Richard Barron Lester Witty was born in Christchurch to a working class family.
Add to that being a pastor’s son and he enjoyed the humble upbringing you would expect, but also as you’d perhaps expect of a boisterous Kiwi lad, it wasn’t void of youthful cheek and unruliness, and the occasional difference in opinion from that of his parents – namely when it came to his career path.
Martz initially wanted to become a mechanic but after failing to complete his apprenticeship, he rather reluctantly heeded his father’s advice and entered the world of accountancy.
As it turns out it was the right move and Martz has never looked back. The same cheek remains, only it’s been tamed into playful professionalism.
Martz graduated from Christchurch Polytechnic as a Chartered Accountant (PP) with a Dip BS, Accountancy and wasted no time finding his place at a local accounting firm, Bishop Toomey and Pfeifer.
Amongst honing his skills in the trade and in time being named managing partner, Martz realised that it was the act of helping people that provided the buzz he searched for, and so he set out to explore this further – in the areas of business development and professional speaking.
Over the years, Martz has founded, headed and sold a string of businesses from bars to accountancy firms, some hugely successful and also one that lost him more than 30k every 24 hours the doors were open.
In 2006 he established the Martz Group and it’s been the Mona Lisa of his professional career.
The Martz Group is leading example of a modern business advisor, being comprised of an arrangement of boutique companies – Martz Speaking Ltd, Martz Accounting Ltd, Martz Business Development Ltd, Green Pen Audit Ltd, and Martz Cloud Accounting Ltd – that unify the disciplines of chartered accountancy, business development and professional speaking.
The Group is committed to realising its client’s goals, whatever they may be, through collaboration, quality service and fun in a winning tribe environment, and it’s yet to find a business that it has not helped to grow.
“We do accountancy, because it’s the nuts and bolts of business; it’s something that has to be done,” Martz says.
“Essentially we’re a business development agency, we moved into professional speaking as a way to leverage the business development across a large number of people.”
If the hospitality that began upon my arrival hadn’t been so enticing then it would have been the colourful display of rubber ducks that captivated my attention.
Yes, rubber ducks. They began as a jovial, visual analogy of the Group’s ability to get businesses ‘ducks in a row’ and now they’re a distinct part of the company’s personality.
“Every employee gets a duck when they start, when they reach a personal or professional milestone, and when they leave us,” explains Jocelyn, who is affectionately referred to as Martz’s right hand.
It’s this quirky take on life that allows Martz to view and identify businesses goals from all angles and turn them into targets hit.
Personal visits to the clients’ home or office are not uncommon. Having people be comfortable in their immediate environment is one of Martz’s secrets to truly being able to identify a business’ goals, purpose and direction, and to make sense of and manage that trifecta combination through quantifiable measurement.
“Business growth doesn’t necessarily mean bigger. At the beginning of an assignment we have to work out what success is for that person. Whatever it is, if we can measure it we can manage it in business,” Martz says.
The success of Martz, the Martz Group, its clients and employees can be attributed to the following philosophy: “The right person, doing the right job, at the right time, with the right tools, at the right place”.
“We encourage the tall poppy around here,” Martz admits.
Success means something different to everyone but for Martz personally, one of his fundamental beliefs is that the purpose of a business is to sell it.
His resume is naturally a colourful one and it reads something like this: owner of over 23 businesses over the years, past president of SWAP Christchurch (Salespeople With A Purpose), past national president and current accredited member of the National Speakers Association, committee member for the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA), author, and recipient of the prestigious Te Kahurangi award for his outstanding contribution to the speaking profession.
Don’t make the mistake of confounding Martz’s fervour for fun as unprofessional, though.
“A personal goal is to be the very best at my craft, and therein lies a path of constant reinvention and training.”
Martz has long been proud of New Zealand’s rich cultural history and in 2005 he began learning Te Reo Maori through Te Wananga O Aotearoa, and in 2014 he achieved TARM Level 5.
Right now the global business landscape is enduring one of its more volatile periods, where the merger of automation with traditional manual processes is threatening many roles within many fields, and many businesses themselves.
“One of the biggest hindrances to success is not asking for help and worse, not accepting help,” Martz believes.
When asked to offer a single piece of advice to those who aren’t sure where they sit during this merger, or what move to make next, it was this:
“It’s better to make the wrong decision than no decision.”
There’s a lot to be learned from making mistakes in business and in the midst of a technical revolution, it’s costly to not adopt change.
Sure, early adoption runs the risk of not quite being the right fit at the right time, but at least it’s proof if your customers ever needed it that you are looking toward the future, you are willing to embrace change, and you’re excited about how you can continue to develop your business’ capabilities to offer your clients a service that either meets industry demand or paves the way for the rest of the industry.
Martz believes failed businesses generally sit in one of two categories: either they failed to evolve quickly enough, or they failed to evolve at all.
I’m suggesting a third category: they failed to seek the help of the Martz Group.
By Lydia Truesdale