Navigating Success in Alaska’s Waters
Juneau’s icy fjords have witnessed the determination and passion of Captain John Melino for over a decade. From navigating the carved pathways of glaciers to responding to Mayday calls, Melino’s journey isn’t just about steering boats; it’s about crafting a legacy in Southeast Alaska.
In 2007, Captain Melino set foot in Juneau with a singular vision: to master every type of vessel that dared to cut through Alaska’s treacherous waters. He learned from the best, piloted various crafts, from jets to tugs, and even soaked up knowledge from oil spill responses like the Princess Kathaleen Recovery.
With experiences spanning from diving in Navy Station Roosevelt Roads to charter voyages down the lesser Antilles, Melino cultivated a lifestyle of self-reliance and close-quarters boat handling. These invaluable skills would soon sow the seeds for Melino’s Marine Services.
Melino’s encounters in Juneau were not without challenges. He recalls the incident of a sailboat hit by a breaching whale and his timely response to rescue the distressed couple. These incidents, coupled with the glaring realization of a commercial void in marine assistance, inspired the birth of Melino’s Marine Services in 2011.
The company’s reputation grew exponentially, and so did its services.
Today, with two purpose-built vessels, Melino’s Marine Services is Southeast Alaska’s premier “Yeah, we can do that” company. Their offerings have branched out from marine towing to remote logistics, water taxi services, and even TV production crew support.
Melino’s network now boasts an impressive range of vessels, cranes, and special equipment, all ready to tackle Alaska’s unique challenges.
Despite the commercial success, Captain Melino’s vision remains grounded. It’s not just about profit; it’s about community and collaboration. “No one works for me. We work together,” he emphasizes. He believes in the power of small deeds, often helping distressed vessels without charging, a testament to his deep-seated belief in karma.
To budding entrepreneurs, Captain Melino’s message is clear: Never give up. Research your market, hold onto other income sources in the initial stages, and once you’re ready, dive in wholeheartedly. And if obstacles seem insurmountable, there’s always Ian from the Alaska SBDC to guide the way.
When asked about how the Alaska SBDC has helped him prepare for financing to expand his business, Melino said “Ian – THIS GUY! was crazy enough to get involved with us years ago and has been helping Me / Us ever since. We talked a lot, made models, projections, talked with several banks and reps. He got me organized bookkeeping wise and guided us through this process of EXPANDING the small business we are today.”
Looking forward, the company has grand plans. They are in the process of building a high-speed landing craft, uniquely designed to tackle Southeast Alaska’s challenges, whether it’s rescuing stranded passengers or ferrying those who missed their voyage.
In a land where glaciers shape landscapes and whales breach the surface, Captain John Melino’s story stands out—a testament to grit, community, and the dream of crafting a legacy on Alaska’s waters.