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Freedom Boat Club adds Chesapeake franchise

The Freedom Boat Club is collaborating with a Maryland marina to launch a new franchise operation in the upper Chesapeake Bay.

The club, which has 10,000 active members in 19 states and 84 corporate-owned and franchise operations, has a Maryland-based club in Annapolis and believes the market is suited for expansion.

“Whenever possible, we prefer working directly with well-established marina owners and operators in the development of our franchise boat club facilities,” Freedom Boat Club national sales manager Lisa Almeida said in a statement. “We are very pleased to collaborate with Jackson Marine Sales in this expansion initiative and are working jointly to secure a qualified franchise operator for this market.”

Jackson Marine Sales owner Woody Jackson believes the area’s waterways, combined with the regional boating activity and consumer interest, provides the perfect formula for boat club development. Jackson, whose full-service marina offers new- and used-boat sales and service, believes a boat club will help to grow boating in his market.

“The Freedom Boat Club model is a tremendous vehicle for bringing newcomers to boating, as well as for providing an alternative for former boat owners who are seeking a new way to enjoy the water,” Jackson said. “We are serving the new- and used-boat market in terms of both sales and service, and we believe our marina is highly conducive for boat club operations. We welcome the opportunity to work with a qualified owner/operator to mutual benefit.”

Finding the right candidates as franchise owners is critical to the club’s growth, said president and CEO John Giglio.

“We have developed a powerful brand with high marks for customer satisfaction and loyalty,” he said. “Our success is a direct result of having franchise owners who share our values and vision and who are committed to serving our members with an exceptional degree of excellence.”

Giglio said he has made it a priority to build strong relationships and trust with major players in the marine industry.

“In the past, some marina operators and boat dealers were wary about the presence of boat clubs and viewed it as competition,” Giglio said. “However, those who have worked with us throughout the country understand we are committed to growing boating and to introducing more people to the boating lifestyle. We seek to collaborate and work with other industry players in every market we enter. There is no doubt that the club serves as a springboard to boat sales, as a percentage of our members love the boating experience so much that they decide to become boat owners.”

During the last few years the club has taken an active role in many marine industry programs and organizations. The corporate entity is a member of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, the Marine Marketers of America and several statewide associations.

It also supports many industry groups and programs, including the Marina Recreation Association, and most notably, provides boats for multiple “Take the Helm” boat shows sponsored by Discover Boating. Three of the company’s top executives serve on the Recreational Boating Leadership Council on the nationwide Diversity and Affordability task forces.

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