Freedom Boat Club, launched in 1989, is following a record-breaking year in 2012 with an even stronger 2013, the Venice, Fla.-based company said.
In October, with the scheduled opening of its newest location in Sarasota, Fla., the club will be operating in 71 locations. It added five in 2012 and has added 13 more this year. Since the start of 2012 the club has purchased more than 270 new or slightly used boats.
CEO John Giglio chalks the growth up to shifting consumer trends.
“Market research in the marine industry tells us people are seeking options to traditional boat ownership,” Giglio said. “Many people simply don’t have enough free time or discretionary income to justify owning a boat themselves. We believe that boat clubs are a great option for consumers and a smart way to help the marine industry grow. We serve the useful function of exposing more people to the joys of boating.”
Giglio said it was important to maintain high standards while managing such rapid growth.
“We know how important it is to pay attention to the details,” said Giglio, who became CEO in 2011 after serving for eight years as director of operations. “We are dedicated to providing a great experience for our members, and we will not grow beyond our ability to maintain that level of service.”
In recent months, Giglio has developed working relationships with industry leaders that include the Marina Recreation Association, the International Marina & Boatyard Conference, the Association of Marina Industries and several marine trade associations.
The club also has made it a regular practice to donate boats for special events, such as “Take the Helm” training and National Marina Day. The group also has been involved with Discover Boating to support the Grow Boating initiative.
The locations added this year are: Scituate, Mass.; Northport, N.Y.; Lake Charlevoix, Mich.; Chicago; Cleveland; Lake Norman, N.C.; Sebastian Inlet, Islamorada, Ruskin, Lake Tarpon, Panama City and Pine Island, Fla., and a second location in Venice, Fla.