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North Light Yacht Club and Emerald Coast Marine merge, create …

North Light Yacht Club and Emerald Coast Marine announced a merger to form the Emerald Coast Marine Center, The new company is led by three boating industry veterans including Shawn Talpey, president chief operating officer; Keri Doscher, vice president; and Jeff Orbin, vice president of marketing and development.

The new partnership creates a comprehensive boat sales, service, rental, marina and yacht club experience for boaters throughout the Florida Panhandle. This collaboration was made to position ECMC to deliver an elevated, seamless boating experience for customers through the combined efficiencies, strengths, talents and resources of both companies.

“Our goal is to provide our clients with the most personalized, responsive and enjoyable boating experience possible, both oceanside and dockside,” said Talpey, who founded Emerald Coast Marine with Doscher in 2015.

Talpey and Doscher previously worked together for several years in senior management roles at Legendary Marine where they helped lead their former employer to become the Boating Industry Top 100 Dealer of the Year for two consecutive years, placing the company in the Top 100 Hall of Fame.

Emerald Coast Marine leased space at North Light Yacht Center in the spring of 2016 to accommodate its new boat sales and service dealership. Conversations ensued the following winter to discuss the long-term benefits and opportunities of creating a joint partnership with North Light Yacht Club. With a shared vision for creating a unique, all-inclusive boating experience to benefit boaters in their market, the principals from both companies discussed and analyzed strategic merger option, with a favorable outcome.

“NLYC was originally established as a dry storage and wet slip marina in 2008. While it excelled in marina operations and customer service, the company’s growth was limited by the lack of an on-site sales and service marine dealership,” said Orbin. “We knew our business would thrive and our clients would benefit from the additional products, services and club enhancements that an on-site marine dealership and more staff capacity could offer. We believe this new partnership with retail expert Emerald Coast Marine is a great decision for our business and especially for all of the customers we collectively serve.”

The next few months will directly reflect the new vision and major enhancements for the facility.

Plans include the recent acquisition of an adjacent property that will be utilized to expand the sales facility by building a new, indoor showroom with additional customer parking. A new service, parts and accessories department will be built within the existing dry storage facility to provide store frontage for marine parts and tackle. The current ship’s store will be consolidated, providing expanded space for a new Yacht Club lounge. The pool and spa area will also receive a major renovation to provide more privacy with poolside cabanas, along with the addition of a tiki bar, the latter of which will be facilitated by onsite waterfront bistro vendor, FUEL.

In addition, plans call for the launch of Emerald Coast Water Sports this spring, featuring a rental/boat club to provide an affordable alternative to boat ownership. The rental/boat club will offer products including new center consoles, dual consoles, deck boats, high-performance pontoon boats, stand-up paddleboards and kayaks.

ECMC will also launch an event social calendar in response to client requests. On tap for 2017 includes an on-water “BoatUp/FloatUp Movie Night,” “Rock the Docks Concert Series,” “Boats and Brunch” and other activities.

“We know exactly what is required to operate a highly successful marina and new boat dealership, and we are very excited to bring this experience and best practice to the regional boating community,” said Doscher. “However, as a locally owned and operated company, we also bring full-service principles that are deeply rooted in southern hospitality. Our customers and members should expect to be treated with the highest level of professionalism and with the personal touch befitting dear friends. Our goal is to deliver an exceptional high level of service while balancing casual comfort and class in order to truly elevate the Gulf Coast yacht club and boating experience.”

In the coming weeks, changes to the ECMC brand will be more evident across all platforms as the merger transition concludes. Visit www.emeraldcoastmarinecenter.com for more information or call 850-389-8318.


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Freedom Boat Club Franchise Network experiences continued growth

Over the past year, Freedom Boat Club has experienced exponential growth, a fact President and CEO John Giglio attributes to greater brand awareness of the boat sharing concept, coupled with the opening of new clubs and the resulting consumer demand for the unique maintenance-free boating lifestyle. According to Giglio, the company has experienced a 40 percent growth in franchise club expansion since December 2015.

Freedom Boat Club, ranked in the Entrepreneur Magazine Franchise 500, now has 125 locations in 22 states and Canada. The club has 15,000 memberships and operates a fleet of 1,500 boats.

In the past six months, Freedom Boat Club has opened brand new markets and opened multiple clubs in Seattle,, Stockton, Calif., Seneca, S.C., and Fort Pierce, Fla.

Recent existing franchise owner/operators have also announced major regional expansions, adding clubs in their respective territories.

For example, Freedom Boat Club of Greater Boston and Cape Cod has 11 locations in Massachusetts, opening three new clubs in under two years. Partners Matt Carrick and Captain Matt O’Connor this week jointly announced their eleventh location at Kingman Yacht Center in Cataumet, a Cape Cod full-service marina.

“We’re looking forward to working with Freedom Boat Club and its members.” said Scott Zeien, Kingman Yacht Center owner and president. “Our job is to help people get out on and enjoy the water, and Freedom Boat Club offers an exciting, alternative way for people to do just that. This has all the makings of an excellent partnership.”

Other recent franchise market expansions and/or upcoming 2017 season openings include Baltimore and Washington D.C.; Boynton Beach, Palm Coast and a second location in Jacksonville, Fla.; Pittsburg, Calif.; Stratford and Branford, Conn.; and a second location in Babylon, Long Island, N.Y.

“Freedom Boat Club offers a proven revenue model and the success is clearly reflected in the numbers of new franchise owners opening new clubs, the growth of new members and the continued investment of the club in new boats and marine-related goods,” said Giglio. ”We expect this robust trend to continue, with several new locations currently under review throughout the U.S. and Canada. We also anticipate launching the club abroad where exciting new opportunities abound.

“As we’ve opened clubs in new markets and introduced the concept, we’ve had a very enthusiastic reception from newcomers and lapsed boaters alike,” Giglio added. “People love the free hands-on training provided by our licensed Coast Guard captains, and they appreciate the affordable cost of entry and maintenance-free lifestyle. We’re especially pleased to see an impressive bump in millennial memberships in major markets where the sharing economy has become a way of life.”

Giglio, whose company and franchises buy on average 550 new boats a year for club usage, says that while collaborative consumption is certainly propelling new membership, Freedom Boat Club also creates a healthy funnel that leads directly to new boat sales.

“We’ve worked very hard to educate the marine industry about the boat club model and how it brings new people into boating, keeps former boat owners engaged and ultimately serves as a springboard to boat sales, with 20 percent of our members eventually investing in a boat of their own,” said Giglio. “The fact that we introduce thousands of people to this lifestyle, train them how to safely operate our vessels and then introduce them to multiple brands is simply good for boating. Our recent partnerships with boat and engine manufacturers, major wholesalers, marina owners/operators and the slow warming of more savvy retailers is certainly a win-win for all involved.”

For more information, visit www.freedomboatclub.com or the franchise website at www.freedomboatclubfranchise.com. For franchise information, contact David Aldrich – daldrich@freedomboatclub.com or call 843-368-1103.


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Cleveland Boat Center: Renovating and rebranding for efficiency

Longtime Top 100 dealer Cleveland Boat Center has been a part of the Tennessee boating community since 1972. But even for a dealer with a long history of success, it’s important to keep revamping and improving.

In 2015, Cleveland Boat Center underwent major facility renovations and updates in order to create a more efficient process flow for the business.

“This was a huge endeavor, with many years of planning into it, and it has proven to be more successful in increasing our efficiency than we had forecasted,” said dealer principal Stacy Greenwood.

The renovations included moving the dealership’s parts department from the back corner of the building to the second floor. To facilitate the move, the Cleveland Boat Center team added wall space, shelving, and laminate flooring to the second floor, and then fully finished the downstairs area where the parts department had been, to include pale blue walls and hardwood flooring. That additional room on the first floor allowed the company to create a conference room and new office space for the dealer principal and vice president/business advisor.

“In moving the parts department upstairs, we were able to do a large scale inventory check and control,” Greenwood said. “We also reorganized the layout of this department to create a more comprehensive and easily accessible parts area.”

Cleveland Boat Center was remodeled to add office space and improve efficiency.

Cleveland Boat Center was remodeled to add office space and improve efficiency.

The new office space allowed Cleveland Boat Center to create a sales office for its newly promoted sales associate, who had previously sat at an open desk in the showroom.

“The new sales office offers boat customers a more comfortable, inviting private area to discuss numbers and other elements of the boat buying process,” Greenwood said.

Cleveland Boat Center also made staffing changes during the renovation. The company hired a new bookkeeper and new parts and inventory specialist. Other employees were moved to new positions.

“These staffing changes have proven themselves to be an excellent change/improvement for the business, as each individual is excelling in their new position and are thus helping our business to grow,” Greenwood said.

With the former shop manager interested in learning more about other areas of the business, the company moved him into sales, where he the top salesman.

“In moving our shop manager to a sales position, we found that his tremendous knowledge of our products, in addition to his excellent people skills and dedication to the position and to customer service, allowed him to quickly excel at his new role in our business,” Greenwood said. “By bringing knowledge and fresh ideas to the team, he has contributed to a great increase in our boat sales.”

Cleveland Boat Center also took the opportunity to update its marketing along with the upgraded facility. A new logo was created to more accurately demonstrated the company’s mission statement to the public, with the addition of three words: “Live,” “Laugh,” “Boat.”

Cleveland-Boat-Center-logo-192x192 (1) (1)“These small words resonate our dedication to selling an on-water lifestyle, not simply boats and water sport accessories,” Greenwood said. “We want to convey our intention to show the public that we don’t just ‘sell boats,’ we sell lifestyle – a life of fun, excitement, and togetherness on the water.”

The company also launched a new website created by Lighthouse Media Solutions, with a new interface, interactive pages, and cohesive design and color scheme.

“Cleveland Boat Center’s new website has been tremendous in assisting our company with establishing consistency in our marketing and advertisement designs, and providing more information about our company, employees, and products to the public,” Greenwood said.

In 2015, Cleveland Boat Center also took a “keen interest” in becoming more involved in its local community.

“In doing so, we partnered with our local food-bank to collect food items and other donations for the needy during the holiday season. To facilitate this venture, we campaigned a ‘Fill the Boat’ Food Drive during which we drove a festively decorated boat around to local businesses and picked up donations to ‘fill the boat’ for those in need,” Greenwood said. “Helping Hands, the organization we partnered with, was wonderful in helping spread the word around the community for us about the event, in addition to the fliers and personal visits made by Cleveland Boat Center staff to local businesses in the area.”


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