It’s fair to say the late Martin V. “Bud” Smith blazed a trail across Ventura County.
Starting with a small hamburger stand at the Los Angeles County line, the entrepreneur-developer left behind a diversified real estate empire and a reputation for being a low-key operator whose handshake was something you could take to the bank.
Smith’s signature project was the 1980s era Financial Plaza, now owned by John E. Anderson’s Topa Equities. Decades after it was built, it remains the only thing that remotely resembles a high-rise complex between Woodland Hills and the Silicon Valley.
Channel Islands Harbor, though still very much a work in progress, was part of his handiwork. In the final analysis, Smith was a pivotal figure Ventura County’s evolution from agriculture to a knowledge-based economy.
Eight years after his death, Smith’s legacy is taking shape in a new Ventura County venue, the campus of California State University, Channel Islands. Already the Martin V. Smith School of Business & Economics bears his name and — no surprise here — it is among the most successful endeavors at the relatively new Cal State campus near Camarillo.