Join us for Triton Networking on the first Wednesday in March with Zodiac of Fort Lauderdale, owned by Lifeline Inflatable Services. In business nearly 30 years, Lifeline has experience selling and servicing liferafts as well as rigging inflatables to meet yacht industry needs.
Come visit the Zodiac of Fort Lauderdale location, see what’s in store, and network with industry colleagues from 6-8 p.m. on March 7.
Until then, learn a bit more about Lifeline Inflatable Services from owner Glenn Gillette.
Tell us about your company.
Well, to tell you about Zodiac of Fort Lauderdale, I have to start with our parent company, Lifeline Inflatable Services. I started Lifeline 27 years ago. Prior to that, I worked in the inflatable boat and liferaft business for 10 years. Our first facility was in downtown Miami, just off the Miami River.
Back in the early 80s, the inflatable boat market was modest, so most of our business consisted of liferaft service. I have been fortunate enough to see the inflatable boat market take off in the U.S. over the past 35 years and am able to say that I have been a part of it.
Along with the market, Lifeline has been able to grow, and we are now in our third location. We are now located in North Miami and have been there since 2008.
How are you affiliated with Zodiac Fort Lauderdale?
In 2013, Zodiac Inflatable boats had no representation in Fort Lauderdale. They approached us with the idea to open a retail store in the area. Soon this became Zodiac of Fort Lauderdale. Zodiac has acquired many inflatable boat manufacturers over the years, Avon being one of them. Recently, Zodiac brought back their deluxe yacht tender line and introduced the Avon Seasport. The Seasport has a large following in Europe. It has also caught on here in South Florida as one of our most popular lines.
Our Zodiac of Fort Lauderdale store has been exclusive with Zodiac and Avon brands thus far. With a growing and competitive market in South Florida, we understand the need to expand the brand options that we offer in Fort Lauderdale.
In 2018, in addition to the introduction to more popular inflatable boat brands, we want Zodiac of Fort Lauderdale to be a one-stop-shop for all of a boater’s marine safety needs. Yacht crew can now drop off liferafts for service or call for free local pickup and delivery. We will also offer lifejackets, EPIRBS and outboard motors.
We have seen a lot of new inflatable boat companies come and go over the years, many bringing flash and hoopla, but not necessarily a good product. Using our 27 years of experience in the industry, we offer only the best quality brands to our customers. Paired with Lifeline’s excellent reputation for customer service — we service what we sell — Zodiac of Fort Lauderdale will give our yachting partners a better variety of quality and unique products.
What trends do you see in the yacht tender market?
One of the most unique products that we want to offer in Fort Lauderdale is Sealegs. Sealegs is an amphibious boat that has become popular with larger yachts and customers who have beach access. Aluminum tenders have also become increasingly popular recently. They have been around for a long time but recently have become more acceptable because of their light weight and durability.
I also see a growing market for the large tow-behind tenders. Lifeline has been building large custom tenders that suit the needs of these customers. Our main platform for this usage has been the Zodiac Milpro boats. They are the same hull used in the military and commercial use. They are tough as nails, a thrill to ride in, and capable of fulfilling anyone’s needs.
With so many inflatable options out there, what do you attribute your long run in business to?
Our success is reliant on our loyal customer base, who keep coming back over the years and referring us to their family and friends. We really do appreciate those who have supported our small business. As their boating needs have grown, they have helped us to grow. With our great team of employees, Lifeline and Zodiac of Fort Lauderdale will continue to serve South Florida with quality products and service for many years to come.
All readers of The Triton are welcome to join us for Triton Networking on the first (and occasional third) Wednesday of every month. On March 7, join us from 6-8 p.m. at Zodiac of Fort Lauderdale, 1901 S. Federal Highway (33316). No RSVP necessary; just bring some business cards. You never know who you might meet.