Leo Martinez Jr., president of Border Opportunity Saver Systems, has been appointed to the Del Rio Economic Development Corporation (DREDC) board of directors.
The Del Rio City Council appointed Martinez to complete the term of his late father-in-law, Don Newton.
Martinez has decades of experience in the maquila, or twin-plant, industry in Del Rio and Ciudad Acuña, Coah., Mexico.
“Border Opportunity Saver Systems is a company that was established here in Del Rio back in 1979, and we’re a sub-contract manufacturer. We have, over the years, acquired several companies, primarily in the western saddle and leather industry. We now own Hadlock and Fox Manufacturing LLC. It was a company out of New Braunfels, and we bought it 11 years ago. Our most recent acquisition was Alamo Saddlery,” Martinez said.
“Over the years, B.O.S.S. has probably brought over a dozen companies to Acuña and Del Rio. We got Toter, Dorfer. We did a building for Park Ohio, which is one of the biggest buildings in Acuña. We have over the years worked with Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly Clark, Scott Paper Company,” he said.
“We are also a consultant. There are two companies that I’m currently working with that are what we call ‘shelter companies.’ We help them come to Del Rio and Acuña. We help them establish their name, and we run all their administration until they say, ‘We’re ready to go,’” Martinez said.
He said that is the way Toter was established here in 2004.
“I was actually the plant manager for Toter for almost two years, and I helped train and hire their base staff. We helped hire and train their general manager, and once we had all their administration and systems set up, we just backed off. It was basically like a turn-key operation,” he said.
“We also have subcontract with what used to be Kimberly Clark and is now Halyard. We do about 12 of their families, or 12 of their lines,” he added. “Under our complete umbrella, I think we have more than 500 employees in Acuña, and about 30 total employees in Del Rio.”
Martinez has deep roots in Del Rio.
He was born and raised in Del Rio and is a graduate of Del Rio High School. He attended the University of Texas, from which he graduated in 1982, majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry. He stayed and worked in Austin until 1984.
“When I came back to Del Rio to work with Mr. Don Newton and Mrs. Ozuna, basically what they said was, ‘Leo, you don’t have the experience that we need, but you do have an education, so we know you can be taught,’ so based on that, I started with them,” Martinez explained.
He said he returned to Del Rio gladly, because it had always been his desire to do so.
He met Newton through Newton’s daughter Patsy, whom he was dating and eventually married.
“Their family business, Mr. Newton’s and Mr. Ozuna and Mrs. Ozuna’s, was just taking off, so I came for an interview, and it was a risk on both ends. I had no experience in manufacturing or in setting up business operations, and they had a customer that was working on a pilot program, Johnson & Johnson. Back when I started we were doing one of the first versions of the adult incontinence brief, and we started with 12 operators in almost a bare shell of a building, no air conditioning, no docks.
“I started in February (1984), and it grew fairly quickly, and it got to the point where the business was promising enough that our owners back then bought a building, a small 7,000-square-foot building, and that’s where it started. We grew that line, that diaper line – that’s what we called it – and that was the first job I did for B.O.S.S.,” Martinez said.
“By 1986, we built the building that we’re in now, because of Johnson & Johnson, and it’s a 60,000-square-foot facility in the Del Rio Industrial Park,” he said.
Martinez’s career progressed with the company, staying primarily on the operations side of the business.
“Probably six, seven, eight years ago, I became, basically, the general manager in Mexico, and typically I still spend 80 to 90 percent of my time in Acuña running the operation there,” Martinez said.
B.O.S.S. has two facilities in Acuña.
“We also just built another 60,000-square-foot facility that’s right next door to my main office in Acuña, and that’s TransShield, a boat cover manufacturer, that makes boat covers primarily for the boat manufacturer. You see these boats running down the road with these white tarps that are nice and tight. We make those in Acuña now and have been doing that since March of last year,” Martinez said.
“They set up a pilot program under us, and we’ve grown that line for them. We’re at 140 employees today, and the goal is to move them in the next couple of weeks to the 60,000-square-foot building that we just built for them. I will oversee them for two years, and then they’ll determine if they want to go on their own, and I’ll basically turn in the key and they’ll be off,” he said.
Martinez said he looks forward to serving on the DREDC board because he believes in Del Rio.
“That’s kind of what drove me to get into the school board, once and twice, because I believe Del Rio’s got a lot of talent. Like a lot of parents, I’m look for what’s going to attract our kids. Our children are all educated, and they don’t want to come home... I feel strongly that Del Rio has a lot of talent, so how do we attract jobs that are not $8 an hour?
“Mr. Newton has been on the EDC for a little over a year, and often we had discussions about how do we do this. I think all of Del Rio has to be involved. I still feel that a lot of the local politicians, and I know we’re supposed to be apolitical, I understand that we serve at the will of the city council, but I think we have a big task in front of us simply from the standpoint of how to express to the council some of the benefits that industry brings to Del Rio,” Martinez said.
“I’ve been involved in the maquila association for 30 years or so. We have 9,000 jobs in Del Rio that the maquila association brings in, and I don’t think Del Rio recognizes that,” he added.
“I’ve seen the industrial park grow. When we moved into the industrial park in 1986, San Antonio Shoe was there, a couple of buildings that Frank Larson owned were there and that was it. Then Basse (Truck Lines) came in, and then they built that huge building that Ron Chattler now owns, so I’ve seen that park grow from four or five buildings to what it is today,” he said.
Martinez said he has also seen the Acuña Industrial Park grow, from four or five companies in 1984, to more than 55 today. All of those companies, he said, have some sort of presence in Del Rio as well.
“I look forward to serving. I know it’s a short term, from now until October of next year, and I hope I’m useful to the board that’s already there,” Martinez said.