Born and raised in Rockledge, Johnathan Glasser, Owner of Glasser Boats, began working in the boat industry at the age of 19. He spent six years with Sea Ray Boats and another seven doing mobile mega yacht repairs before launching his own business in 1999. Glasser shared the story behind his journey and explained why passion and quality craftsmanship are key components to his success.
“I spent my first seven months with Sea Ray in the grinding bay – that’s a place you don’t want to be,” he said with a laugh. “From there, I moved up to doing boat repairs, quality control and then eventually running the lab and overseeing the lamination and repair departments. The next step in my journey with Sea Ray was working at a dealership in Pompano, FL. I was there for two years before returning to Brevard County to start a family. I did repairs for a couple years before I started working on mega yachts.”
Glasser continued, “I spent the next seven years traveling around the country working on huge yachts. The job was based out of South Florida, but I was always traveling. I even had customers fly me around on their private jets to repair their yachts. It was an eye-opening experience.”
By 1999, Glasser was back in Brevard County and ready to settle down. He was also ready to start his own business and officially launched Glasser Boats.
“I started with one 1,200sqft bay,” he said. “I wasn’t making much money in the beginning so, in exchange for $150 off my rent, I agreed to do some landscaping and keep up the restroom facilities for the warehouse facility I was renting from. I was willing to do anything to make it work. I worked hard and kept dumping everything back into the business.”
During his first fifteen years in business, Glasser concentrated on repairs. However, by 2015, he was ready to take his shot at boat building.
“I’m passionate about flats fishing and pulling skiffs and I knew I could build a better boat than anyone,” he said. “I’ve taken all my experience from over the years in the yachting industry and applied that to making a quality shallow water boat that’s second to none. Our goal is to build a boat that will last forever.”
From the original single bay, Glasser has since expanded to four units. He jumped on every opportunity – even if it didn’t seem financially feasible at the time – to acquire an additional unit. Despite having everything in place to produce world-class boats, built with passion and pride, as Glasser shared, there are a handful of challenges he has to work through.
“Getting people to trust that you’ll be here next year is a big one,” he said. “It happens in this industry. A warranty means nothing if you’re not there to warrant it. It’s our job to ensure that our customers know that we’re not going anywhere. It’s also hard to find employees that want to build something special. You want to find someone that has as much pride in their work as you do.”
Glasser has primarily grown his business through word-of-mouth referrals. He’s also involved in a yearly charity fishing tournament in Naples, FL, that gives back to first responders. For the past three years, Glasser Boats has donated a boat to that tournament. According to Glasser, the exposure has brought some notoriety and attention his way.
Looking ahead, Glasser, who loves to see the smiles on his customer’s faces when they pick up their new or repaired boat, is focused on continued growth. He wants to build a strong family company that takes pride in what they do. He’s not interested in ever becoming a ‘mass production line’ where quality control is likely to slip. He anticipates eventually purchasing the remaining two warehouse units and one day owning the building he operates out of.
What advice does Glasser have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Never give up on your dreams,” he said. “I’ve struggled along the way, but always knew I could pull it off. I never took no for an answer. There have been tough times along the way, but I’ve always bounced back. I’m a single dad of three boys. I’ve learned that on the tough days, you just need to push through to the next day. When times are tough, just go home and hug your kids or your loved ones and know it’s not the end of the world.”