This month, we’re introducing some of America’s most inspiring entrepreneurs by interviewing all 18 finalists for this year’s Dream Big Small Business Awards. The awards program honors the achievements of some of our nation’s most remarkable small business owners and celebrates their contributions to the American economy. We’ll be spotlighting a different finalist every day between now and the Small Business Summit 2017, where the winners will be announced (register to attend here).
The company: Mid Atlantic Maritime Academy, LLC
Who’s in charge: Ed Nanartowich
Where are they: Norfolk, VA
What they do: State-of-the-art vocational training center for individuals in or wanting to enter the maritime profession
Q: What inspired you to start your company?
Nanartowich: As a retired ships Master (on oceans), USN retired Capt., and now President of Mid Atlantic Maritime Academy, the inspiration behind the business was to offer high quality maritime training to an underserved geographic region. The problem solved was having an advanced maritime training facility located in a high density shipping and transportation node along the eastern seaboard.
We are dedicated to providing outstanding training to civilian and military mariners from around the globe. Our expert staff of highly regarded, seasoned instructors provides a combination of unequaled teaching techniques with cutting-edge technology such as “hands-on” equipment systems maintenance and interactive simulations.
Q: What barriers have you faced while building your company and how did you overcome them?
Nanartowich: Getting the word out about our company locally was the primary and first hurdle. Additionally, getting shipping companies to trust us as a provider for professional training went hand in hand with getting the word out about our school. We marketed and pushed our brand through word of mouth, social media, and television. We overcame their trepidation about our competencies by having the right people in the right positions within the company understand the value we are able to bring. We are now recognized as a highly respected, state-of-the-art vocational training center.
Q: What has been your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?
Nanartowich: Every day we have a person that comes to our school and leaves as a certified Merchant Marine Mariner with a Coast Guard license or endorsement is a life changing event for those that have previously had neither a license nor endorsement. That is my recurring proudest moment.
Q: Tell us about your company’s role in the community. How do you use serve your hometown?
Nanartowich: With over 2,000 students coming through our doors yearly, we have the reach within the community to provide support to initiatives such as Toys for Tots, NJROTC support, Sea Scout tours, and other groups. That supporting role is continuous throughout the year.
We are the single maritime centric operation in our region that supports our Veterans and guides them through training that will ensure their marketability in the high paying jobs aboard ships. In that endeavor we are the community leader. Additionally, we work with disadvantaged youth and put them through concentrated maritime training through our bootcamp operations and then help them get their endorsements to sail aboard ships. We are the leader in helping these young men and women find a job at sea.
Q: What does it mean to not only have created your own job, but to also create jobs for others?
Nanartowich: Maintaining a viable business does wonders for a community. There is a natural infusion of capital to persons and other supporting business that are essential to our operations. This distribution of funds carries its own meaning in strengthening the economic fabric of the local area, particularly depressed areas.
Q: What’s your guiding principle for running your business?
Nanartowich: Simply put, I always ran my ships with the guideline that when you take care of the crew they will take care of the ship. Similarly, respecting and holding dear the competencies of those that work for you, is the key to success.
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