Over the past six decades, Martin Selig has turned his two person company into a billion dollar enterprise. He’s built his business (and much of the city) from the ground up, and he’s not stopping anytime soon.
So what’s his secret to doing business? Martin won’t tell, but some might say it’s the structure of his company: everything comes back to him. Where some developers have boards, partners, and commissions, Martin and Martin alone is at the helm of his ship. This enables him to make quick decisions and never keep people waiting. His advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs? Do it how he did: Jump in the deep and and see if you can swim.
While most people are either creative types or number gurus, Martin is an anomaly: he’s a creative spirit with billionaire business sense. His door is always open, and if his team needs anything, they need only enter his corner office with glass walls and a bird’s eye view of the city he’s built. Compared to other commercial real estate companies, he adds, his team has a lot more fun.
Martin’s favorite project is always his current project, and he’s happiest when there’s a hole in the ground, on its way to becoming the next addition to Seattle’s skyline. He’s also an artist and art connoisseur. He’s made many contributions to Seattle’s art scene, from the giant popsicle statue outside his property on 4th and Blanchard, to the Botero sculpture outside the old Federal Reserve Building, to the John Henry “Songbird” Sculpture at 5th and Yesler, to the Barbara Hepworth “Three Obliques” at 645 Elliott, and the list goes on.
Martin got into the real estate business in 1958 because “he didn’t trust the stock market.” His team likens him to The Wizard of Oz and Walt Disney: someone with unparalleled imagination who’s unafraid to think outside the box. If he has a goal, he won’t stop until he’s achieved it. They say the reason for the company’s success is easy: it’s Martin. There’s only one Martin Selig.
Though Martin has called the Emerald City home for his entire life, he wasn’t born here: he and his family escaped Nazi Germany in 1940 by sneaking onto the Trans Siberian Railroad. They travelled through Europe and Asia by train, then boarded a boat bound for San Francisco from Japan. When their ship entered Elliott Bay the mountains were out and the sun was shining, so on a whim, his family ended their journey in Seattle. This place is Martin’s home, and he’s been here ever since. In his spare time, he enjoys riding motorcycles, skiing, and painting.