WICHITA — In 2010, Marine World owner Les Eck issued a challenge to his nephews Nathan and Nick Blasi, who began running the business for him in late 2008.
“I said, ‘The only way you’ll be a success at running this store is if you treat every dollar … as if you own the place,’” Eck says.
“We took that to heart,” Nathan Blasi says. “From there on, that set the stage.”
Now, the two are going to own the place. Their purchase of the business will be finalized soon.
Eck says he’s selling “because it’s family. Because everybody needs a break in life.”
“They’re very hard workers,” Eck says. “They’ve done a nice job. They’ve complemented each other well.”
Nathan Blasi worked for Eck’s Rusty Eck Ford for five years before moving to Marine World. Nick Blasi played professional baseball. He uses a sports analogy to explain the difference between him and his brother, who used to play football.
“So he played one day a week and got all jacked up,” Nick Blasi says. “I played every day of the week and had to be the same person.”
Nick Blasi is over Marine World’s service department and says he’s good at organization. Nathan Blasi is more outgoing and handles sales and finance.
“We fight just as much as we get along, but I think we’ve always known that we complement each other really well,” Nick Blasi says.
The brothers say they always knew they wanted to own a business together.
“It was just like a dream from when we were little,” Nathan Blasi says. “You need people that you can count on and trust. I know one person I can count on.”
They didn’t immediately know they wanted to own Marine World, which sells new and used boats, three-wheel motorcycles, ATVs, Sea-Doos, skis and life jackets.
“And then we fell in love with the business,” Nathan Blasi says. “There’s something about making people happy … with their toys.”
He says the business, which has 10 employees and moved to more than four acres at 7979 W. Kellogg in June 2010, has grown 25 percent every year since 2009.
Nathan Blasi says during the tough economy of the last few years, he and his brother employed a strategy of selling merchandise at a discount.
“That’s the car business in us.”
Nick Blasi says it also helps to “eat, breathe, sleep the business.”
“With something like this you have to be here every day all day to make it work. It has to be your own.”
The brothers put up a new sign in the business’ front window this week to thank customers for shopping local.
Nathan Blasi says it makes a difference being “a locally owned company that you can actually talk to local owners.”
Buying the company is a scary proposition, though, Nick Blasi says.
“We’ve been doing it so it should be all right,” he says, though taking on debt and running a business “always makes you sleep less and work more.”
Nathan Blasi says they’ve learned attention to details and numbers from their uncle.
“I call him my business dad,” he says.
“We’ve been fortunate to have Les,” Nick Blasi says. “We wouldn’t be here without him.”