Propelling the Industry Forward – John Giglio on Making Boating More Accessible and Fun!

John Giglio FBC

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Freedom Boat Club’s president and CEO shares how his company is charting a new course for recreational boaters on Anchors Aweigh Boating Podcast

Anchors Aweigh Boating PodcastAnchors Aweigh is a podcast for all boaters, from aspiring to experienced. Featuring in-depth conversations with boating experts and industry leaders, and packed full of tips, tricks, gear, and industry info, boaters of all levels will come away with new skills and knowledge each episode.

The sharing economy has spread to many industries as people have become accustomed to the idea that you don’t need to own things to enjoy the benefits of access.

AirBnB, Zipcar, and Rent-the-Runway are examples of companies that have disrupted the traditional model in their industry and allowed people to travel, drive, and dress in ways that they wouldn’t be able to if ownership was the only option.

The boating industry has embraced the sharing economy and the National Marine Manufacturers Association even listed the continued rise in a boat sharing economy as one of the top trends of 2017! And for the first time, two boat sharing companies made Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 this year.

John GiglioJohn Giglio is at the forefront of making boating more accessible through the boat club model. John is President and CEO of Freedom Boat Club, the world’s largest and oldest private boating club in the nation now celebrating its 27th anniversary. The company has grown from 641 boats and 6,500 members in 2013 to over 15,000 members and 1200+ boats just three years later. If that isn’t evidence of the popularity of sharing, I don’t know what is!

John purchased Freedom Boat Club in 2012, having previously worked for the company for several years in both senior level operations and sales capacities.

The company has been named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Top 500 Franchisees” for the past five years, and was ranked in Inc. Magazine’s “Top 5000 Fastest Growing Companies.” Boating Industry Magazine named John to its roster of “Top 16 Movers and Shakers” in 2013.

John has a unique perspective on boating as a recreational boater, the owner of a 450-boat fleet, and a leader in the evolution of the boating industry.

In this conversation, we cover things like learning to boat later in life, great places to boat in FL, industry trends and insight, who he would love to spend a day on the water with, and more. Enjoy!

Podcast Highlights with John Giglio

Here are some highlights from my Anchors Aweigh podcast interview with John.

Be sure to click on links to listen to the full podcast interview at the end!

On getting into boating…

I did not grow up boating but my wife did. Our first date was on a friend’s boat where we did some water skiing and our second date was on her waverunner. After those two fun events I was hooked, I knew that the boating lifestyle was something I wanted to be a part of.

On teaching his daughters to boat…

I have a fleet of over 450 boats and I vowed I was never going to buy a boat personally….but then I had kids!

I bought a little 14’ side console to teach them how to operate. I made them take the Florida boating class so we can take them out on the boat and they can drive while I’m sitting right next to them. It’s been great teaching them how to operate a boat and getting them out on the water from a young age.

On favorite family activities…

We do a lot of inshore fishing, knee-boarding, tubing, and skiing. And then just general cruising. Where we are there are lot of waterfront restaurants and little beaches, a little place called Snake Island that we like to go to. It’s great family fun.

On his favorite place to boat…

We have a great area south of Venice called Lemon Bay. You’ve got a mixture of no wake zones, open areas. There’s great fishing. There’s a little place called Ski Alley. And then just further South there is a place called Don Pedro State Park which is a great place to go dock the boat and head down to the beach. We see dolphin, we see manatee, we sometimes see sea turtles. It is the perfect little Florida trip down the west coast.

On essential equipment for beginners…

The best investment anybody can make is some type of PFD (personal flotation device). A second recommendation is that you pick up a handheld GPS, something that can make sure you get out safely and get back in safely.

On boating innovation…

There are a lot of technological advances now, specifically with marine electronics. The electronics companies have really started focusing on customer experience.

Now they have 3D technology, so if you’re out there fishing you can actually get a 3D side scan reading and you can watch fish swimming by your boat. They have a lot of interactive electronics now so that all of the electronics on the boat operate the systems on the boat. You can pull up an app on the phone and you can see how hot the engine is running, you can get speed, diagnostic information.

On changes in the industry…

There’s been a huge focus on trying to engage minority boaters. As the population base of the U.S. changes dramatically, the demographics are changing dramatically. They are cultures that didn’t necessarily grow up boating but that is a huge opportunity for our industry.

What you are going to see over the next several years, as the baby boomers age out of boating and the industry continues to look for the young people to get engaged in the industry, people are going to focus a lot more on bringing those new markets into the boating industry.

On recommended reading…

I know its state specific, but there is a Florida safe boating handbook. I think that from an educational standpoint, get some type of resource that’s going to explain the basics of boating before you get out on the water.

On spending a day out on the water with anyone (besides his wife and kids)…

I would have to say Bill Belichik. I’m a huge Patriots fan and I think if you’re going to try to get some time with Bill Belichik, it probably needs to be on a boat where there aren’t any distractions. I think he’s a brilliant coach and a brilliant motivator and I’d love to pick his brain for a few hours.

On advice for someone thinking about getting into boating…

Do your research on whether buying a boat, renting boats, or joining a boat club are going to fit your lifestyle. And before you get on a boat, take a classroom class and a hands-on training class to make sure you’re comfortable. If you’re comfortable the first time, you’ll be comfortable beyond that.

Listen to the full Podcast:

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Listen on iTunes: John Giglio – January 19, 2017 (free)

Listen on Google Play: John Giglio – January 19, 2017 (free)

or Click Play below to listen online here:

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Matt O'Hara

View posts by Matt O'Hara
Matt O’Hara is the owner, along with his wife Rebecca, of Freedom Boat Club Lake George and the Queen Boat Co marina. After a 10-year career in media sales in Boston, MA Matt and Rebecca decided to relocate and open their own Freedom Boat Club, where they could share their love of boating and Lake George by helping others get on the water. The best part of the new career has been the joy they see families having on the water day in and day out, making memories that will last a lifetime. Matt has combined his background in media with his move to the boating industry to launch Anchors Aweigh, a podcast for boaters.
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