In 2013, Cruise Car CEO Adam Sulimirski offered Nathan Kalin a job doing the company’s marketing. It seemed like a good fit for Kalin, with a degree in English.
In his marketing role, Kalin worked on a website and press releases and started to move into sales for the company, which now has some 15 employees and did $10 million in revenue in 2018. “It takes a little while to get the hang of it and really get the pitch down,” he says. “After about a year or so, I turned out to be a pretty good salesman.”
Kalin, now the company’s president, learned about the world of business through online research and voracious reading. “As an English major, reading was one of my favorite things,” he says. “That’s one trait that has been very helpful for me. I’ve read just about every business book I can find.”
He also built up business knowledge by tapping into his network of friends and family in the field and by working with Sulimirski day-to-day. “I knew almost nothing about business before I actually started this job in 2013,” he says. “It was real on-the-job training.”
In 2015, Kalin leveraged the value he was bringing to the company into a junior partnership. He had two business partners — Sulimirski and company founder Ken Chester. By the beginning of 2017, Sulimirski and Kalin had taken over Cruise Car. “As I had more and more responsibility, that created the incentive to constantly look for better ways of doing things,” Kalin says.
As a company leader, Kalin likes to talk with employees about projects and goals and then ask the employees how they would accomplish them. “I’m a big proponent of giving other people ownership of projects,” he says. “If you know something needs to be done, instead of directing people what to do and telling them how to do it, I think it’s always better to bring them into a collaborative discussion. It’s the most effective way of getting things done and having people be happy to do those things.”
Kalin also thinks it’s important to constantly update employees about where the company is going. That way, he says, they feel ownership and pride in what they’re doing.
Coming into Cruise Car from a nonbusiness background has made Kalin realize life is a learning process. “This career has been filled with challenges, and there will continue to be more of them,” he says. “I’m at a point where I’m looking forward to the challenges.”
ON THE RECORD: Nathan Kalin
City of residence: Sarasota
Employer: Cruise Car Inc.
Years on the Gulf Coast: 24
Marital status/children: Single
Alma mater/degree: University of Miami
Where is the best place to network? Gulf Coast CEO Forum events
What's the best business lesson you've ever learned? Trust, but verify
What's your top tip for being productive? Limit your number of input feeds. Turn off your email, silence your phone, and focus on one task at a time.
What's the weirdest job you've ever had? Delivering pizza for Naked Pizza
What community group or organization are you most involved with? Take Stock in Children
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? Starting a podcast
What's your favorite off-hours activity? Basketball, Yoga, Tennis, CrossFit — anything to stay active
What's your favorite board game or video game? Chess
What's the top item on your bucket list? Dunking a basketball (on a regulation hoop)
Where is your happy place? Siesta Key Beach for sunset
What's your favorite podcast? "Tie" — Joe Rogan Experience / "Making Sense" with Sam Harris
Who/what is your favorite musical artist/band? Khalid
Who would play you in a movie about your life? Joseph Gordon-Levitt
What was your first album/tape cassette/CD? Chumbawamba
What was your first concert? Backstreet Boys
What's one song that will get you out on the dance floor? "Shut Up and Dance" — Walk the Moon
What's your favorite karaoke song? "Livin’ on a Prayer" — Bon Jovi
What instrument/role would you play in a band? Drums
Please describe yourself in three words. Old-soul millennial