Venice-based Freedom Boat Club (FBC) is being acquired by the national Brunswick Corporation of Mettawa, Illinois.
Brunswick is expanding its presence and scale within the emerging and fast-growing boat club segment by entering into a definitive agreement to acquire Freedom, the largest operator.
Terms of the deal were not released. The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of 2019.
FBC is also the premier marine franchiser in the nation. Founded 30 years ago in Sarasota, it operated on a timeshare model until then-owner Robert Daley had the foresight to change the pricing structure.
It was owned by an investment group in 2011 but Daley and John Giglio, who joined the company as operations manager in 2004, bought it.
Daley retired in 2012, providing Giglio, 37, the opportunity to become owner of the million-dollar business whose headquarters have remained in Venice.
Today its franchisees service over 20,000 members, providing them with access to a fleet of nearly 2,200 boats at approximately 170 company-owned or franchised locations across 30 states, Canada and Europe.
“As the leader in the boat club segment, Freedom offers both immediate scale and an established marketplace presence and expertise,” said Brunswick Chief Executive Officer David M. Foulkes in a press statement. “FBC’s profitable and cycle-resistant business model is an excellent fit within our marine portfolio.
“This move is a natural extension of our business, complementing our established and growing engine, parts and accessories and boat portfolio with an emerging set of services expanding and enhancing our position in the growing popularity of boating.”
FBC will become part of Brunswick’s Business Acceleration group, which includes Brunswick’s Boating Service Network (BSN), which has participated in the boat club and rental market since 2014.
John Giglio and his experienced management team will continue to lead Freedom Boat Club, having demonstrated a track record of meaningful growth over the last five years by nearly doubling its location footprint and tripling its membership base.
“We’re very excited to join Brunswick,” Giglio said. “Our knowledge and experience of the growing boat club industry, combined with Brunswick’s leading marine resources provides Freedom and its franchise partners many new opportunities to enhance the best-in-class boating experience we provide our members.”
A year ago, Giglio said demand for new lifestyles by people with more free time and a desire for new opportunities led to his latest project — taking the boat club technique into Freedom RVing. The project, which had been on the drawing board for five years, only came to life a year ago.
The company purchased six new vehicles and outfitted them turnkey at the Freedom Jackson Road location, providing staging, storage, washing and servicing.