Propelling the Industry Forward – John Giglio on Making Boating More Accessible, and Fun! - Anchors Aweigh
It was a real treat speaking with John Giglio. 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. With 15,000+ members in 115+ locations in the US and Canada and sporting a fleet of more than 1200 boats, Freedom Boat Club offers an attractive alternative to boat ownership and delivers memories that last a lifetime.
John, his wife Lisa and two daughters live in Venice, FL where the corporate headquarters are based. John purchased Freedom Boat Club in 2012, having previously worked for the company for several years in both senior level operations and sales capacities. Freedom Boat Club has doubled its growth since he took the helm. The company has received multiple recognitions both within and outside the marine industry. It has been named to the Entrepreneur’s Magazine “Top 500 Franchisees” for the past five years, as well as being ranked in the 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 both boating and the boating industry. His experiences as a recreational boater, as the owner of a 450-boat fleet, and as a leader in the evolution of the boating industry all combine to make him an incredible resource and someone I have been able to learn a lot from. In this conversation, we cover things like learning to boat later in life, passing that knowledge onto your children, great places to boat and day trips in FL, industry trends and insight, who he would love to spend a day on the water with, and more. Enjoy!
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 learning to boat…..When I moved down to the west coast of Florida, my boss at the time had a big 42’ Hatteras. We would go out just about every weekend, either diving, or I got into spearfishing. They also had a few smaller boats so we would take those boats out. Just show up at my boss’s house, hop on one of the little 17’ Whalers, and run around for a little while. That’s where I got my one on one instruction from my wife.
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 fishing offshore…..We take the boats between 20 and 25 miles offshore. There’s great grouper fishing, snapper when they’re in season, and amberjacks. So there’s a great variety and diversity of fish that you can catch offshore. But if the wind is blowing a little bit and the Gulf’s choppy, there’s also great recreating and fishing inshore. It’s just a beautiful area to go boatin…