Acquisition was designed to engage as many consumers as possible

Brunswick Corp’s acquisition late last week of Freedom Boat Club (FBC) was “rooted in foresight and where we believe the consumer is going.”

That, Brenna Preisser, president of Brunswick Business Acceleration, told IBI on Friday, will allow Brunswick to ”engage as many consumers as possible and shape the future of boating experiences.”

In a group phone interview with FBC president John Giglio and Cecil Cohn, president of Brunswick Boating Services Network, the trio outlined the immediate and future steps for FBC and Brunswick’s own Onboard Boating Club. While how the entities may merge all or parts of their operations is the subject of ongoing discussions, with the exception of some possible expanded national marketing, no immediate changes are in the works.

“It’s already mid-May, well into the season for many locations, and we don’t want to disrupt anyone’s operations,” Cohn said.

According to Giglio, the boat club and rental concepts have never been part of the “mainstream” boating industry, but that is changing rapidly.

“The market is changing and this concept is key to the future growth,” he said, a position supported by his new colleagues.

“We did not purchase Freedom Boat Club to enhance our boat and engine sales,” Cohn said emphatically. “There will be a benefit unlocked over time, but our primary objective is to tap into a completely new consumer segment.”

Over the last five years FBC has doubled its number of locations and tripled membership, growth that Giglio said is sustainable.

“If you look at the overall participation in boating as opposed to boat ownership, there are so many more people who recreate on the water. So, there is a pool of people that would typically not be in the market to buy a boat but they are in the market to get out on the water.”