It has been 25 years since Freedom Boat Club unveiled its innovative, hassle-free alternative to boat ownership. And what was considered a curious novelty in the marine industry when it was launched in 1989, has proven itself to be an increasingly important player in the national effort to grow boating.
As Freedom Boat Club (FBC) celebrates its silver anniversary, the future looks more golden than ever. The Venice, Fla.-based company operates in 80 locations across the nation with a fleet of more than 800 boats. FBC has experienced a steady growth in membership based on its model of offering affordable, hassle-free boating for a simple monthly fee.
Members not only have a choice of multiple boats at each location but avoid the typical frustrations associated with boat ownership: maintenance, repair, storage, cleaning, towing trailers, etc. And FBC has been moving into new markets at an increasingly brisk pace over the past few years, stretching from Portsmouth, N.H., to Islamorada, Fla., to San Diego, Calif.
“We have proven that there is significant demand for a well-run boating club,” said John Giglio, FBC’s president and CEO. “We are helping to support the marine industry in a big way. As we continue to expand into new locations, we are buying numerous boats, leasing additional dock space and turning more people into avid boaters.”
Since becoming FBC president and CEO in 2011, Giglio has emphasized improving customer service, the importance of maintaining company-wide standards, and being strong partners and supporters of others in the marine industry.
And while recreational boating, and particularly boat sales, has been hard-hit by the recent economic downturn, Freedom Boat Club has been a rare exception.
“We have grown faster, and have been more profitable, in the past five years than any time in our history,” Giglio said.
And Giglio is eager for FBC to foster strong alliances within the marine industry. Over the past few months, FBC has been actively pursuing partnerships with boat manufacturers and national marine retailers.
Another other area of increased focus for FBC: being civic-minded. In recent years, many of FBC’s franchise operators have become involved in a variety of charitable efforts, providing free boat rides, hosting special events for children’s groups, sponsoring safety clinics, and more.
"We have learned a great deal over our 25 years of operation,” Giglio said. “Our future looks brighter now than it ever has.”
For more information on Freedom Boat Club: www.freedomboatclub.com