Donnie Calvin Assumes CEO Duties At GMENI Marine Electronics
In November, Donnie Calvin announced he was assuming the CEO role at GMENI Marine Electronics. GMENI provides and services much of the day-to-day products, supplies and equipment needed to manage a vessel, with a service area that includes all the Western Rivers.
Headquartered in Paducah, Ky., GMENI has provided towboat wheelhouses with every type of electronics product and part for more than 40 years—from transponders and transducers to searchlight sonar and cable adapters. GMENI has furnished many components in both new and refurbished towboat wheelhouses featured in The Waterways Journal.
With a partner, Calvin bought GMENI in 2021—right in the middle of the COVID-19 restrictions that affected the inland market along with the rest of the country.
Calvin has a solid background in every aspect of the river business. He worked on boats for 13 years. “I basically did every job there was on the rivers before I started selling,” including welding, he told The Waterways Journal. His landside and boatside connections helped jump-start his career in marine distribution.
He spent the next 15-plus years in marine sales and distribution as a regional sales manager for Wintech, Nabrico and Arcosa Group after Arcosa bought Wintech. Calvin’s combined river and onshore sales experience familiarized him with every aspect of the inland marine business.
Like many river companies, GMENI is a family affair. Calvin’s wife pitched in to run the office for the first 2½ years. Today GMENI has nine employees, including five electronic technicians and the rest taking care of sales and back-office operations.
Most days, “our [electronics] folks are all out on the boats” servicing equipment, he said. Calvin’s partner Ben Butler is the chief “wheelhouse electronics guru.”
The inland marine market is a niche one, Calvin said, but there is lots of room to grow and plenty of competition. The market attracts both big companies and smaller start-up outfits.
“Rose Point Systems and AIS are always growing and updating,” he said, providing ample work for his busy outfit.
For more than 40 years, GMENI Marine Electronics and Supply has provided navigation and communication technology for commercial inland waterway vessels and coastal shoreline vessels. GMENI has a reputation for providing captains and pilots with “best in class” wheelhouse technology that enables them to navigate the waterways safely and efficiently.