DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — When the Parker family began selling boats in Florida, Calvin Coolidge was president, Gene Tunney was heavyweight champion of the world and Babe Ruth was patrolling right field at Yankee Stadium. Over the course of 85 years, the Parker name became one of the most recognizable and respected in Florida’s booming marine industry.
Now Bobby Parker, the third generation of his family to make a living selling boats, is taking a new tack. Parker is one in a growing list of marine industry specialists who is joining the club.
Parker will be opening the newest franchise of the Freedom Boat Club at the Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona Beach in mid-February.
“I did a lot of research before I made this decision,” Parker said. “With all my connections in the industry, it would have been easy to go the independent route and open my own boat club. But the more I examined Freedom Boat Club, the more impressed I was with the operation.
“Members have access to 75 locations across the nation and 29 in Florida alone. No other boat club compares. I wanted to be part of that network.”
The Freedom Boat Club, which began in 1989 in Sarasota, has experienced a steady growth in membership and franchise locations 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.
Parker says his Halifax Harbor Marina location will open with a variety of 2013 and 2014 model boats: a dual-console Key West, a Hurricane deck boat, two Tracker pontoon party barges and a Tidewater.
“I have been an avid boater all my life,” Parker said, “and I know what a hassle it can be, how expensive and time-consuming. The more I talk to people about the boating-club model, the more interested they become. There are many people I know who are passionate about boating, but are just not as passionate about boat ownership. This is the smart alternative.”