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Meet Julian “Max” Stein of Max Marine Electronics in Pompano Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julian “Max” Stein.

Max, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I came to Florida in 2007 and found an hourly job doing signs and graphics (vinyl lettering, lighted neon and LED signs for stores, etc.) at a small company. As the economy began to slow down, we went from putting signs up to taking signs down and eventually, I found myself working less and less hours. One day, I was on craigslist and noticed an item that I knew had to be worth more than what the person was selling it for. I went to look at it and ended up buying that item and several others. I sold everything on eBay and made a decent profit… seed money for what, after hundreds if not thousands of “flips,” has now become Max Marine Electronics.

After this first “buy low sell high,” I set up a very basic business model. I kept the job at the sign company but I was down to 25 hours a week. On the weekends, I would go into full on entrepreneur mode. I spent a couple of hours on Friday evening browsing Craigslist for garage sales and mapping out a route so that, I hit each sale as close to start time as possible (that’s when you get all of the good stuff). Saturday morning, I would wake up at the crack of dawn and hit all of the garage sales, usually at least 15 of them. When I got home, I would clean up, test and take pictures of each item and list them on eBay, starting bid $.99, Sunday to Sunday 7-day auction.

Usually, Sunday nights are a time when you are getting ready for the dreaded work week but my Sunday nights were exciting, as I would watch the last minute bids come in right before the end of each auction. I would pack and ship all of the items until the wee hours of the night and stop at the post office and Fedex every day before work. My boxes came from the cardboard dumpster at Party City and the newspaper I used to pack with, was donated from anyone I could find that still used paper newspapers.

I picked up some marine electronics at one garage sale and I was shocked at the price they sold for. The buyer actually picked one of the items up and when I asked him why he paid so much for such an old piece of equipment, he responded that this was what he was used to, he already had the dash cut and boat wired for this particular unit and he didn’t want to go through the hassle and expense of replacing the unit with something different. From that moment on, I focused on marine electronics.

November of 2011, I quit my job, stopped taking night classes at Palm Beach State College, formed a corporation and rented a 1000-square foot space. I hired my first employee and Max Marine Electronics was born. It was a simple concept – find used gear, buy low, sell higher. In the years following, we added employees, added space and added to our offerings. We now offer a full line of repair services and sell all over the world. We have eight employees and are growing. We are in a 5000-square foot facility and are in discussions right now to double that.

Perhaps the most important thing I remember is where I came from. One of the biggest reasons for our success is our employees. Because, I was once “on the front lines,” I have always treated my employees the way I would want be treated. We offer almost 3 weeks of PTO a year plus 8 paid holidays, virtually unlimited overtime, health/dental/vision/life insurance and we do some fun stuff as a company every year. Our entire facility is air conditioned, so no one is uncomfortable working. I often joke that I might not ever be filthy rich but I will always sleep very well at night.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The journey has not been without its challenges but I think in general, it has gone very smoothly. I was fortunate in that I had already proved the business before actually “going into business.” I think the biggest challenge for me has been on a personal level. In my business, the more you put in, the more you get out. This made is very easy to work 60 and 70 hour weeks, as the hours worked to money made was linear, it never hit a plateau. In these last seven years, I have had to find balance. I’ve been on both sides of the continuum, working 70 hours a week and working 30 but this last year or so, I feel like I’ve found my happy place.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Max Marine Electronics – what should we know?
Max Marine Electronics is a company that occupies a very specific niche that no one knew was there in the world of marine electronics. We have two main focuses: The resale of used marine electronics and the repair of marine electronics that are no longer manufacturer supported. We are most known for and most proud of the amount of testing that goes into each product that we sell. This is what sets us apart from the handful of others that do this sort of thing. We have the resources to ensure that each and every product that leaves the shop is fully tested with warranty. This can be a challenge on some things but it makes our return rate low and our customers happy.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Integrity. This is South Florida and let’s be real, it is disturbing to think about how many people and businesses in this area lack it.

It’s very simple – do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it.

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