The year was 2009; as the sun set over his newly purchased home, an ambitious 25-year-old stood in the driveway staring at the ’73 Mako 20 that he was set to restore.

“Well… what now?”, he asked himself, facing the boat that was nearly 10 years his senior.

His answer?

“Just start.”

Following his own advice, Eric Steele did exactly that. Boating wasn’t his area of expertise, but as an electrical engineer, he knew he could figure it out. Eric powered up his computer, kissed his brand-new bride, Sarah, goodnight, and got to work.


Eric grew up in a tiny, unincorporated North Carolina town about an hour northwest of Charlotte. Although not a working farm, his family’s rural property required plenty of manual labor; that labor, taken on alongside his father and brother, taught Eric the value of strong work ethic.

“Never stand around and watch someone else work”, his dad would say as the sweltering summer heat beat down on them.

The lessons learned during those countless hours working with his father carried on with Eric as he prepared for the next phase of his life.

As his first 18 years drew to a close, Eric prepared to leave his tiny town of Vale, NC and head a bit further south. The destination was Charleston, SC, but he wasn’t coming for the historic downtown charm or the miles of sandy shoreline; Eric was preparing for 4 rigorous years of study at The Citadel

The Citadel, also known as The Military College of South Carolina, is nowhere near the vacation destination of its surrounding city. Eric knew that. He also knew the next 4 years of life would mould every year to follow. He took that work ethic instilled by his father, buckled down, and pushed through a very challenging – but rewarding – college career.

Those four years quickly came and went.

Steele graduated in 2007 with a degree in Electrical Engineering and began his professional career as a C4I Project Engineer for the Department of the Navy. Although unfamiliar with boats growing up, the weaving and winding coastal waterways captivated Eric. He worked hard learning the ins and outs of communication systems in new ship construction and set aside money to hopefully purchase his own boat one day.


Seasons changed, a couple of years passed, Eric got married, bought a house, and found himself standing in his driveway.

Across from him? That boat he finally purchased – a 1973 Mako 20.

He knew big changes were needed, so he jumped right in and got started.

Hours upon hours were spent combing boating forums online. As an electrical engineer, the electrical side of the Mako restoration would come easy; it was everything else that he needed to research.

Much to his surprise, Eric had as much to give to the forums as he had to take away. As he learned about fiberglass repairs, replacing rotted transoms, and putting coal tar epoxy on fuel tanks, Eric helped others with their 12Vdc electrical questions.

He couldn’t believe how many questions on the forum were based in the electrical system. He also couldn’t believe how much he struggled in finding a switch panel that would fit over the existing hole of the old Mako console.

Light bulb.

“Maybe I could make one product to make this easier for people”, Eric thought.

The seed that would become New Wire Marine was planted.


It started in January 2010. Eric wanted to supply simplicity, safety, and easy installation for fellow boaters.

Originally leading on the idea of building wiring harnesses for boats, Steele named his new business “New Wire Marine”. The panel part was an after-thought at that time, and he worked much harder on perfecting the harnessing product.

The website began with just a few switches and a few panels that Eric had designed, fabricated, and assembled. The panels were fully harnessed and would simplify installation enough so that anyone could upgrade their boat on their own.

After a few months, Eric’s website started to see sales. The sales weren’t for his harnessing though; they were for the panels. That’s when he changed direction and began to focus on the panels in their entirety.

Much to his wife Sarah’s dismay, their spare bedroom became the first New Wire office. Eric bought a small laser to cut custom panels and vented the smoke out with a bathroom fan – in a cardboard plenum box – thrown out the window on the front porch.

Talk about curb appeal!

After about 3 years, Eric realized he needed to bring someone – NWM’s first employee – on board to help with his quickly growing side gig. He was still working full-time and those late nights in the spare bedroom were starting to catch up to him.

This is where Pam, who’s still with the company today, enters the picture. Along with Pam comes the need for an official office space; an awkwardly shaped (but cheap) 10’x20’ place down the street.

The year was 2012 and New Wire Marine was officially, official. Eric’s wife, Sarah, rejoiced as the carboard box vent system got trashed and her spare room got emptied.

Okay… neither Eric nor Sarah ever said she rejoiced. But we’re all pretty sure she did.

After just a few short months, the 10’x20’ space had been outgrown. Eric asked the landlord for a second office and Pam went full time.

Thinking back to the early days of New Wire, Eric says, “at the time, the thought that it would become a real company was a long-stretch dream”.

He continues, “I thought it was a, ‘maybe someday I could have 10 employees…maybe’ kind of thing. I had never started a business before. I did not anticipate – at that time – that this product would be so needed or wanted.”

Back during those early days, Eric tried a couple other business ventures. They both failed, New Wire continued to gain traction, and he never looked back.

The First NWM Office


It was 2019 and New Wire Marine had more than outgrown the 1200 sq ft shop. It was time for a bigger space and even more employees.

The new space – nearly 10 times the size of the previous – was just what this company needed.

“We brought 9 people from West Ashley to North Charleston”, Eric said. “And now we are at 36, hiring, and moving again!”

At the writing of this article (April 2022), New Wire Marine has just passed many big milestones.

Eric and Sarah welcomed their second child in March and closed on a bigger space a couple weeks later, just in time to house the new machinery upgrade.

“What are you most proud of when looking back over the past 12 years?” I asked Eric.

He sat for a minute, reflecting.

“Gosh, I don’t know… the reputation we have, I guess. When I meet people who have heard of us, they always say, ‘wow, you guys do great work!’”

Eric, an extremely humble man, gleamed with pride.

“I also love the culture we’ve built; how every single person who works here genuinely gives a crap about our products.” He continues, “How everyone working at every level thinks, ‘will this work for the customer?’ – even if they’ve never met or talked to them.”.

As I sat with Eric, learning more about the roots of New Wire, more questions for him filled my head. As I mentioned, Eric is an extremely humble man. On top of his humility sits a brain FILLED with knowledge and a heart filled with kindness and respect. I wanted to know more about his and NWM’s background, but I also enjoyed getting to hear him lead me down his personal journey of success.

Eric is not the bragging type but has built something truly spectacular; he’s not only created a top-quality product, but has hand-crafted a staff that cares about each product as if it were their own.

Fishing for wisdom, I asked Eric, “If you could give your 12-years-younger self any advice, what would it be?”.

His answer?

“just start.”

“don’t overthink it. You don’t need the perfect idea. The final result will probably be very different, and that’s okay. Just start working; the rest will fall into place.”


Eric and his family feel extremely blessed by the incredible New Wire Team and customers who have made this little side gig into the growing and thriving business it is today.

“We build products for the best boats money can buy and bring that same attitude to focus to every custom panel we build”, Eric says.

Eric often laughs when he walks by and picks up a panel in one of our “reject cans” around the shop.

He continues, “most people couldn’t even spot the flaw in most of these panels we throw away… means we’re doing something right”.

My final words with Eric shifted from the past and focused on the future. With a bigger space, bigger machines, and even more employees joining the crew, the coming months and years are looking bright for New Wire Marine.

“We’re so excited for the future.  We’ve got many exciting products, capabilities and new ideas flowing.  I can’t wait to see what the next twelve years brings.”