“We grew because the entire company focused on customer service, including listening very well to customer needs, from which new ideas and products evolved. Together, we managed growth and change in such a way as never to lose our focus on customer service.”
– John C. Whitaker, Jr.
John Whitaker and Inmar
John grew up on a farm outside Winston-Salem, NC, part of a family with close ties to the local business community. His father taught John a strong work ethic and encouraged high standards.
John’s entrepreneurial endeavors began in college, where he served as Business Manager of The Daily Tar Heel. After service in the US Navy, he became a real estate developer, primarily of second home condominiums. Later John realized that his knowledge of real estate start-up businesses could be applied to operating businesses.
One small venture led to another, eventually leading to his founding Carolina Coupon Clearing in 1980, a business for clearing coupons for retailers. At the time, the coupon industry largely involved manual processing. The Inmar management team had a novel idea: apply technology to the practice of coupon processing and settlement.
Technology, even in Carolina Coupon Clearing’s early days, became an important driver of the company’s accuracy, efficiency and success.
As technology evolved, the Inmar management team realized the need to restructure systems to provide better and more flexible data to customers. In addition, they created new companies such as Carolina Manufacturer’s Services and Carolina Return Goods Services. Eventually, all of the company’s entities were consolidated under a single name: Inmar.
Learning to build larger and more comprehensive systems proved challenging and became a continuing priority for the company. This pursuit gradually provided a platform and a framework to enable the company’s migration from a coupon processor to one that provided better promotional and other valuable data of importance to customers in diverse industries.
Having positioned Inmar for growth and continued success in the digital age, John retired from Inmar in 2008 but remains a friend and trusted advisor to this day.
John C. Whitaker, Jr. is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, civic leader and advisor, whose career has centered on the start-up and growth of companies, concentrated in technology enabled service-related businesses. He is retired Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Inmar Enterprises, Inc., located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which was sold to a private equity company in 2007. Inmar has more than 4,000 employees in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The company began as a promotional management operation (initially as a coupon processor) and later became a reverse logistics processor. Inmar evolved to provide technology, analytics and business services that accelerate the rate of commerce for more than 1,000 clients.
John currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of INV, which provides venture capital and management expertise to start-ups and early-stage operations. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Winston-Salem Alliance, a strategic planning organization serving Winston-Salem, and a member of the Board of Visitors for Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
In 2013, he received the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America, presented annually to an individual for providing outstanding civic service to the community. John’s professional and civic activities have included serving on the Board of Directors of Wachovia Corporation (Executive Committee); Board of Trustees of Wake Forest University; Board of Directors, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center; Chairman of the $200 Million capital campaign for the Medical Center; Board of Visitors, Babcock Graduate School of Management, Wake Forest University; Boards of Directors, Amos Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital (past president); the National Development Council, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the UNC Alumni Association; Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce; Division Chairman for the Heritage and Promise Campaign of Wake Forest University; member of the Campaign Steering Committee for The Children’s Center for the Physically Handicapped; and coach for the Optimist Youth Soccer program. John’s experience also includes real estate development and construction.
He received a B.S. degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Among other awards, he was selected as a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece, the highest honor society for service to the university. He earned a master’s in business administration from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. John served three years in the United States Navy as an officer in the Supply Corps. He received a letter of commendation for outstanding service. He is married to Elizabeth S. Brock of Winston-Salem. They have two children, John and Libby, along with several grandchildren.