Larry Madrid: Future CEO
My name is Larry Madrid and I am the president and CEO of Madrid Engineering Group, Inc., with offices in Bartow, Tampa and Orlando. I am a geotechnical engineer and an entrepreneur – I have run my company for over 27 years, during which time we have completed over 10,000 jobs and have billed our clients over $100,000,000 for our expertise and capabilities. But it didn’t start out that way. In fact, when I was in high school I had no idea that I would ever even own a company! Here is how it all began…
My personal story is that nobody in my family prior to my generation had graduated from college. Nobody had studied engineering either, so nobody in my family could be a role model to me of that profession. I found out about engineering when I was in junior high (middle school age) and had to write my first-ever term paper on a profession. While I researched in the school library, I found a book that projected salaries to when I would graduate from college. At the top of the list were doctors, lawyers… nuclear scientists… I knew I wasn’t that smart! But near the top of the wage earner list was civil engineer. The description of what they do said they worked to design infrastructure for cities and developers. I really didn’t know what ‘infrastructure’ was but they mentioned things like roads, water supply pipes, and other utilities. It sounded cool to be somehow working to design a city. It also said the minimum requirement was to graduate from college, and that you had to be good at math and science. I was pretty good at math and pretty good at science, so I decided to write my term paper on civil engineering. That was my introduction to the profession I eventually chose.
But it was really a high school guidance counselor that told me I would be good at engineering. He looked at my grades and the classes I had been taking, and said to me ‘Larry, you’re good at math and science. You ought to consider a career in civil engineering’. That was all the encouragement I needed! I told him I was already sort of planning on it, all the way back since 8th grade. He said I should make sure I was taking the classes I needed to complete to get into college, and that he would help me figure out where I could go and even how to get scholarships.
Well, I needed that because my family didn’t have two dimes to rub together to get me to college. Actually, that is a bit of an exaggeration. After I was accepted into college and was ready to leave home for my freshman year at Colorado State University, dad pulled me aside and said ‘this is all I can give you, you will have to figure out the rest on your own’ as he handed me $300 cash. It really was just a drop in the bucket, but I understood it was all he could do and I was thankful for his contribution. Well, with some small scholarships, some grants, a little savings from summer jobs in high school, and a part time job to pay for pizza and other junk food, I was able find a way to pay for most of my education during school and the rest were loans I had to pay back after graduation.
The lesson is this: pay attention to your high school guidance counselors. If you let them do their job, they can help you get into a college, university or tech school; get certifications that can help you get a great job; go into the military, or just take the next positive step in your life. There is a process and they know what that process is. They have insight into what you might do really well and therefore succeed at where others would fail. I needed a lot of help along the way to get to where I am now, and was not afraid to ask for the help. Best wishes as you figure out what you will do with your life!