JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Lisa Almeida, well-known across north Florida by her alter-ego, Lisa the Boatanista, might need a new moniker after the recent business accolades she has received. Call her Lisa the Late Bloomer.
It is not that Almeida did not achieve a significant amount of success earlier in her professional career: she did. But the former corporate sales and marketing executive is enjoying a new level of success as an entrepreneur in the marine industry.
In recent weeks, Almeida, co-owner of the Freedom Boat Club franchises in Jacksonville and St. Augustine, has received two major honors:
- Earlier this month, she was named one of three finalists for the 2014 Woman in Business Award; Entrepreneur- Up and Coming.
- Then, on Feb. 12 in Miami, Almeida won national honors from the Marine Marketers of America for creating the Best Event Marketing/Sales Promotion of the year.
For Almeida, the biggest surprise surrounding her latest successes is how it has all unfolded.
“This was supposed to be the quiet time of my life,” she said. “I had a perfectly good plan. It has not turned out that way.”After working for many years as a sales and marketing executive with BellSouth, Almeida left the company seven years ago, “to relax, go into semi-retirement, and hang out on the water.”
But her love for all things involving boats and water eventually enticed her to the Freedom Boat Club, the nation’s oldest and largest boat club. Corporate managers called on Almeida in an attempt to salvage the local franchise, which was suffering from a glut of bad publicity and sinking fast. Within months, under Almeida’s guidance, the red tide had turned to black. Following the dramatic turnaround, she purchased the franchise in 2011, then added several new boats to the fleet in Jacksonville, and St. Augustine.
“We continue to add new members and new boats to our operation,” Almeida said. “I am having the time of my life as an entrepreneur. It seems to get better every day.”