JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Freedom Boat Club (FBC) has earned top honors as Small Business of the Year in northeast Florida for 2014. The Master of Industry Awards were announced at a gala banquet at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront in July.
The awards, sponsored by MOI Magazine, recognize businesses and CEOs that are models of exceptional leadership, foresight, acumen and community service. People across northeast Florida were invited to make nominations for the awards and vote for their favorites.
“We are thrilled to be recognized as the top small business by Masters of Industry,” said Lisa Almeida, who along with partner Kevin Selig, owns and operates the FBC locations in Jacksonville and St. Augustine. “We have worked hard to make customer service a priority and to be actively involved in our community. It is encouraging to know that our efforts have been noticed.”
Almeida, widely known across the northeast Florida region as Lisa the Boatanista, was also named Up and Coming Entrepreneur of the Year at the Women in Business Awards in March. She has been operating the local FBC locations since 2011. Her business has enjoyed a steady growth in members and expansion of its fleet.
Freedom Boat Club, based in Venice, Fla., is the nation’s oldest and largest boating club. 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.
“It is very rewarding to know how well we have been received in the Jacksonville area,” Almeida said. “This is a great business to be involved with. If we are doing our jobs properly than people are enjoying all the benefits of boating and leaving all the hassles to us.”