by Maggie Boyle Judi
Carley Garner is a name widely recognized in the world of commodities trading for her four books published by FT Press, one of which, Commodity Options, was named one of the “Top 10 Investing & Trading Books of 2009” by SFO Magazine.
She was also featured in FT Press’ “Insights for the Agile Investor” e-book series and an educational video series. She has been featured by Technical Analysis of Stocks & Commodities Magazine as a monthly columnist since early 2008, and in early 2010 Trader’s Library released a DVD titled “The Option Spread Advantage” that features a live speech delivered by Garner to a crowd during the 2009 Las Vegas Trader’s Expo.
And Garner got her start right here in Little Ol’ Monticello, graduating from Monticello High School (MHS) in 1996.
After graduating from Snow College and then earning two separate bachelors degrees in finance and accounting from University of Las Vegas Nevada (UNLV) with a Magna Cum Laude distinction no less, Garner visited a local commodity brokerage on a whim and fell in love with the action and never looked back.
Futures and options brokers solicit clients world wide to participate in a trade that allows, say, a farmer to lock in a price on wheat now even though his crop won’t be harvested for months. Speculators are willing to buy a wheat futures contract in hopes prices move higher.
For four years, Garner built her book of clients, and then in 2008 set out on her own and opened her own firm, DeCarley Trading. It took another four years of hard work to build up her clientele, and just when things were starting to pay off and feel secure, tragedy struck.
In July, 2012 after returning from the July 4th holidays, Garner’s worst day ever began with a vengeance. The business she had spent eight years building had been scammed by Peregrine Financial, a brokerage firm that DeCarley Trading used to hold their clients money and facilitate the buying and selling of financial securities.
Peregrines founder Russell Wasendorf admitted in a suicide note (the suicide attempt failed) that he had used, “a scheme of false bank statements to embezzle millions of dollars from customer accounts over a period of about 20 years.”
Every one of Carley Garner’s clients were among those customers swindled by the greedy Wasendorf.
We’ve all had terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. But usually they don’t play out like the worst day DeCarley Trading ever had. But, despite the massive blow, despite nearly losing her business and all her clients, only three years later, DeCarley Trading is bigger, and more successful than it’s ever been.
So how does that happen? How does the criminal actions of one man, and the resulting worst day ever in the lives of business owners and clients all over the world, turn around into such a success?
Perhaps the answer to those questions, at least for Garner, begins in Monticello, just west of the pool (to be exact) at the softball fields.
In 1993, when Monticello went 2A, softball was added to the roster of available sports. Naturally, Monticello wasn’t especially competitive in the new sport, until that is, 1995 when a softball pitching phenom named Carley Garner moved with her parents, Dave and Robin, and younger brother, Doug, to Monticello.
Garner could pitch a softball at 60 mph in those days. She could pound a volleyball with amazing speed and force as well. A fact I know firsthand because I once popped a blood vessel in my wrist at practice trying to block a Garner kill.
The year she graduated from MHS, the lady bucks took state in softball, carried almost entirely by her stellar pitching. A feat not repeated again by the lady bucks in all the 2A years following.
Those years on the softball field, basketball and volleyball courts, coupled with a business she and Chance Allred started in Mrs. Larue Barton’s home economics room are some of the origins of the success she now enjoys.
Chubbe was a clothing brand that she designed, produced, and manufactured and Allred sold all over Utah.
“It was a relative success,” says Garner, “considering the circumstances, two high school kids with just a dream.”
From that small business experience she found that, “adversity, and hard work are necessary components of the process.”
But Garner feels like a lot of the critical values she uses now in the big bad world of finance were learned mostly in the sports arena and in the home of her sports loving parents.
“My mother always reminded me of the big picture, which was to get a college education, preferably via athletic scholarship (Garner played softball on scholarship at Snow College). She was my motivation. She didn’t accept excuses or whining, so she played a big part in my ability to pick up the pieces and move on when things get rough.
“My dad was also a great role model for me. He worked long, hard hours, including holidays. He never took a vacation or even a day off, I never remember hearing him complain.”
From sports, Garner says she learned many things, chief among them, “…attacking problems with discipline, and training and so I think more than anything sports played a role in my work ethic and ability to make things happen.”
All of those things are needed in the business world on a daily basis, not to mention on a very bad day that can make or break you.
For Garner, those great days of sports supremacy, her upbringing, and yes even that worst day ever, have combined to make her a flaming success.
Says Garner regarding that terrifying summer day, “Everything we worked for for four years was gone. Our clients money was gone, our business was gone. I’m not gonna lie, I cried for a day or two,” she chuckles at this, “ and on the third day I said, “you know what? Nobody is going to come bail us out. We either get up and move on, or we pick another business.”
So they went to work, 16 hour days (5 a.m. to 8 p.m.) for months. “We started absolutely from scratch. For the first six months, all I did was help my clients fill out bankruptcy forms. We thought if we helped them, that if they decided to ever trade again, they would choose us.
“It was nothing fancy...no magic…just working around the clock. At the time we didn’t know if money would ever start coming back in.”
Once the bankruptcy was taken care of and the clients were taken care of “we went to marketing pretty hard core,” recalls Garner. She rewrote one of her books, gave webinars and live seminars and wrote market newsletters and magazine articles all about commodities.
Part of the philosophy of DeCarley Trading is education. “We want to make sure that anyone that trades with us know exactly what they are getting into beforehand. Commodity trading is extremely risky.”
It’s easy to see why clients have come back to DeCarley Trading tenfold. Even before her success in rebuilding her business, Garner’s hard work caught the eye of one of the most famous names in finance, Jim Cramer of Mad Money (on CNBC) fame.
Garner is a recurring guest on his show showcasing her market analysis of various commodities such as gold, crude oil, and natural gas. I asked Garner why Jim Cramer would choose and trust her analysis in regards to these most important world commodities.
Garner says of her opportunity at Mad Money, “it took seven-ish years of hard work and networking to even be considered as a writer for the Mad Money website. I think Jim trusts me because he knows I’ll be honest, and I always just put my head down and work my butt off to make sure everything goes smoothly for him on the show. I keep my analysis simple, efficient, and as accurate as possible.”
Garner is analyzing the most important commodity in the world on national tv.
Hard work pays off big dividends. Dividends that can turn the worst day of your life into the best of opportunities. After those initial six months of recouping losses for both clients and her business, those dividends began showing up big time.
What took DeCarley Trading four years to build came back to them exponentially only one year from that catastrophic July day.
Garner has mixed the best of what she was in Monticello with the best and worst of what she’s experienced along the way to find huge success in her chosen occupation. Using skills learned on the softball field, volleyball or basketball court and in her words, “It was nothing fancy…no magic…” just a whole lot of hard, hard work.