In downtown Cleveland, on the Cuyahoga River, sits Great Lakes Watersports a recreation watercraft rental business. Customers have the ability to rent kayaks, tritune boats, and even a powerboat for any occasion. From providing equipment to training on how to use the boats, the team at Great Lakes Watersports will make sure you feel safe and secure on your adventure. In March 2021, USA Today ranked the Cuyahoga River the number 1 urban kayaking destination in North America. With downtown Cleveland and the Great Lakes Watersports team on your side, you are guaranteed to enjoy your time on the water.

Joshua Allen, the proud new owner of Great Lakes Watersports, discovered the hidden gem in 2018 when he rented a kayak for the first time. Following this experience, he and his 9-year-old son were repeat customers and enjoyed spending time on the Cuyahoga River taking in the beauty of downtown. With a background in Computer Engineering with NASA's Glenn Research Center, Joshua was in the process of achieving his Software Engineering Master’s Degree, when he decided he wanted to pursue other avenues. As he continued his work at NASA, he also focused on learning more about business in his free time.

In the Summer of 2019, Great Lakes Watersports stopped renting Jet Skis. As an avid renter, he started to think of ways to bring Jet Skis back to the facility. He then asked the previous owner if he could store a Jet Ski at their facility, and to his surprise she let him know that they were actually selling the business and if he was interested in buying, he could store as many Jet Skis as he wanted. Joshua made an offer on the business the next day. He knew acquiring the company was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

The previous owner and seller of Great Lakes Watersports introduced Joshua to Tim Carson, our experienced SBA Business Development Officer. After speaking with Tim, Joshua was sure the SBA route would be the best option. Through the SBA loan, he was able to purchase 15 more kayaks, digitize customer waivers, and replace all the signage at the location. Without the capital provided by the SBA 7(a) loan, he would not have been able to make this business acquisition happen.

Joshua had this to say about his experience working with Tim and the team at FNB Small Business Finance:

My experience with Tim was great! As soon as I spoke to Tim, I could tell he was very knowledgeable and would be able to help me throughout the process. I would definitely recommend Tim and First National Bank to other business owners. FNB Small Business Finance wasn’t just the bank funding my business loan, they were my partner throughout the process. Throughout the process, they gave me their full attention! They put a loan package together that not only allowed me to acquire the business but improve the business at the same time.

We enjoyed helping Joshua achieve his dream of owning this business, and wish him all the success and growth moving forward. If you are in the Cleveland area, make sure you stop by Great Lakes Watersports!