Growing up, Kyle Martin was always close to his big brother Kris. But today, they share more than just a last name and some DNA: They share a job title.
Kris and Kyle are general managers at stores in Texas, Kris in Round Rock (outside of Austin) and Kyle in West San Antonio.
Both brothers started at Store 201 in San Antonio while in high school. Kris started on his 17th birthday in 2004 at the recommendation of a close friend, working as a media associate back when CDs and DVDs took up the largest footprint in the store. When graduation rolled around, he transferred up to a Best Buy store in Austin closer to school — leaving a Martin-sized gap in his wake.
Not long after that, Kyle started looking for his first job. He was shyer than his extroverted older brother, so while a shared love of technology drove him to Best Buy like his brother, he wasn’t sure if it would be as natural of a fit. Kris stepped in to help.
“The hiring manager that hired Kyle at my old store called me up and said, ‘Your little brother applied — what do you think?’ and of course I gave him a recommendation,” Kris said. “I knew Best Buy might really be a challenge for him, but I knew he could do it, and knew the skills he would learn there would aid in college and life beyond.”
Both brothers continued to advance their careers. Kris bounced between a few stores in the Austin area, even helping to grand-open a store. He took his first trip to corporate headquarters in Minnesota (also his first plane ride and first time seeing snow), and that solidified his desire to make Best Buy a long-term career. He worked as a supervisor in seven departments, as a sales manager, and as a connectivity group manager. After a while, Kris found himself on the phone accepting a GM position in Round Rock, TX.
Meanwhile, Kyle was making waves at his store in San Antonio. Unlike his brother, most of his advancements happened in the same store. He went from cashier to sales manager.
Then Kyle heard about a GM position opening at a new store in West San Antonio. When he got the job last fall, one of the first people he called was his brother.
“He knew exactly what I was going through,” Kyle said. “I started right before the holiday season, and he helped me find a balance. We were both at stores that had tremendous opportunity, so he helped talk me through that, too. And we both could relate on making the jump from a pure sales mentality to a GM mentality.”
Kris saw value in learning from Kyle’s journey, as well.
“It’s very rare to see an individual that grows at the rate he did in the same location,” Kris said. “The amount of respect I have for him and admiration for what he did in one store — he added so much credibility to his name by being able to do that. When he got the job, I wasn’t even surprised.”
Call them ‘Blue Brothers’
The mutual admiration the brothers share for each another helps when their market’s staff now try to playfully pit them against one another.
“It’s funny, because we’re not really competitive,” said Kris. “But the market staff love to feed into that dynamic anyways. They’ll call us and jokingly tell us which Martin is leading in the stats, or which Martin will win more awards at the GM meeting. And maybe that does drive me a little — because I can’t believe he won more awards than me this year! That’s not going to happen again.”
The Best Buy spirit comes home with them, too. At family events, their mother has set ground rules: no acronyms, and no intense shop talk. But their older brother is also a general manager in the hospitality industry, and their younger sister spent her high school years also at Best Buy, so sometimes the conversations naturally find themselves turning a little “Blue.”
Sometimes, they find themselves talking about their connection to their up-and-coming employees.
“I use stories about me and my brother all the time,” Kyle said. “We talk about how two kids in high school who never thought about retail as a career ended up where we are. That gives people some guidance, paints a picture of what’s possible.”
That advice hits even closer to home for a few of Kyle’s employees.
“I have two sets of siblings on my team,” he adds. “I know siblings can work well together, so hiring them was a no brainer!”