John Callari

Owner of Carolina Marine Wholesale

Carolina Marine Wholesale, LLC is a company run by John Callari in Wilmington, North Carolina. John has a strong connection to the sea and all things nautical as a result of his upbringing on the Gulf Coast. He was already studying the inner workings of the boating industry when he was just 16 years old. John’s uncle ran a marina, and John was put to work there, assisting customers in getting their boats in and out of the water. John also studied at North Carolina State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in nautical science.
As the managing member of Carolina Marine Wholesale, John is passionate about boating and passes this enthusiasm on to others. He discovers hidden gems that are no longer wanted or may require some repair and breathes new life into the boats so they can be enjoyed by someone new.
John is not your typical boat salesperson, and far from being called a regular guy selling a used boat. He spends several weeks getting to know each boat from bow to stern. John is inspecting and working on these vessels in tandem with the hired contractors. John records every detail of any work that needs to be done on the boat. The job isn’t done until it’s been verified to be completely accurate. John understands his vessels inside and out after spending days and nights on end working on each of them. He is meticulous in keeping records the entire time he is working so that when it comes time to sell the boat, he will be able to provide an honest, thorough description.
Listing a boat for sale is where John really distinguishes himself as an industry leader. Some sellers may obtain a boat and take a few pictures, then market it as being in “good working order” an hour later when they have actually spent little time examining the vessel and don’t even know whether the battery is functional. John though, spends an average of 6 hours writing his descriptions, which include 200-300 photos. This allows potential purchasers to get to know the boats as much as possible without seeing them in person.
When it comes to being a boat salesman, John is inimitable. Currently, John runs two eBay sites for boat sales. One of them is international. Both of which John operates in such a painstakingly thorough manner because he holds to the principles of honesty and responsibility. For John, it’s not just about making a sale; it’s about doing what he loves and giving it his all.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

I was born and raised on the Gulf Coast. I have always been around boats and the boating industry. My uncle ran a marina, so I started working there when I was 16 years old, assisting customers with getting their boats in and out of the water. When I went to college, I studied nautical science at North Carolina State University. After college, I put my knowledge and my experience to work and eventually was able to start my own business.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Every day is different. Some days I am at work in the office, looking up boats that we currently have for sale and corresponding with customers or potential clients. Other days I am at the marina working on the boats we currently have in inventory. Sometimes I spend whole weekends working on sales and marketing for our business, but at the end of it all, what is most important to me is being honest and responsible with the people who buy boats from me.

How do you bring ideas to life?

It’s really a matter of taking one idea and making it into the best finished product that I can, continually improving and evolving it as we go.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I really don’t think of trends as being exciting or not. I think it is more important for a trend to make sense and be a good thing for people. For example, with the rise in popularity of e-commerce, it is great for business owners because they can reach new customers from all over the world. Obviously for me, this is a wonderful thing for my business.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I’m a very honest person, and I believe that how you conduct yourself in life is an essential habit for being productive. That includes being honest with all my customers, with the people who work for me, and with myself. Being a shady businessperson who isn’t honest will kill your productivity. Who has time to keep track of false information? To me, it is much easier, cleaner, and more efficient to always have a policy of 100% honesty.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell myself to stay focused and not let anyone or anything distract me from my goals. It is so easy to get sidetracked, but if you can maintain focus, you will be much more successful.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I think that almost everyone can be successful if they put their mind to it and work hard. I know there are a lot of people who think that success is only for a lucky few, but I don’t believe that. I think anyone can be successful if they really try.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I have two things I recommend to everyone. First, think very carefully before you make any commitments, especially financial ones. And second, be honest in all your dealings with others. When you are always honest, it makes everything else much easier because nothing will ever come back to bite you!

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

The one strategy that has helped me grow my business is to put top priority on customer service. If you take care of your customers, they will come back, and they will tell their friends about you. It’s really as simple as that!

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I wouldn’t say that I have had any failures as an entrepreneur. Everything I have done has worked out exactly the way it was supposed to, and if it didn’t work, I just tried something different until I achieved success. Being a successful entrepreneur takes a great deal of flexibility and thinking on your feet.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I would definitely recommend opening an auto elevator service business. It’s a great, low-cost startup and the pricing is standardized so you won’t have to worry about competition right away.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I would have to say that the best $100 I recently spent was on a new programable mouse. When you work on a computer doing certain actions a lot, like copy and paste, for instance, having built-in shortcuts in your mouse that allow you to hit a button are so convenient! I know it seems like a lot for a mouse, but I promise it is worth it for all of the time you save in the long run.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I would have to say that one of the best pieces of software for being productive is Evernote. I use it to take notes, to save articles and webpages, and to store any other important information that I need to access quickly. It’s really a great tool!

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I would recommend “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries. It’s a quick read that has a lot of great, actionable advice for people just starting out in business. I think it is a really valuable tool for anyone looking to become an entrepreneur!

What is your favorite quote?

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs. I absolutely agree with this quote! If you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing, it’s going to be very difficult to be successful.

Key Learnings:

  • Think very carefully before you make any commitments, especially financial ones.
  • Be honest in all your dealings with others.
  • Put top priority on customer service.
  • Being a successful entrepreneur takes a great deal of flexibility and thinking on your feet.