Sandy Cleary is literally a rocket scientist. She started her career in aerospace managing the build of guidance systems for ballistic missiles. After the sudden passing of her older brother and a year later, her father, she decided it was time to return to her roots in Boston and care for her ailing mother.
Her brother had always told her, “If you do what you love, you’ll always be successful at it.” Sandy loved to cruise. She would take at least one weekend cruise a month during her aerospace days, and it truly served to de-stress her. She decided to start a cruise company in her mother’s basement. At that time the Internet was very young, but as an aerospace engineer, she was very familiar with it and its future potential. She also knew that her strict, Irish mother would NEVER let strangers come into her home, so her business would need to be Internet based.
She grew CruCon Cruise Outlet from a small online travel agency into one of the largest sellers of cruises with more than $135 million in annual cruise volume, and recently sold it to Travel Leaders Group, a $24 billion dollar travel powerhouse. Sandy’s keen and creative marketing strategy and her ability to see both the agency and cruise line positions as well as the consumer impact has contributed to the company’s growth.
Sandy’s synergistic approach to business has proven that the power of the combined efforts of industry leaders, affiliates, and those of her own team grows exponentially with every step forward together.
In 2017, Sandy founded SLC Group Holdings with the charter to partner with entrepreneurs and small businesses needing funds to grow their companies and help them bring their products to market to propel them faster on the road to success.
Sandy partnered with HSN, as a featured speaker at HSN’s American Dreams Academy. Sandy spoke to a room of more than 100 entrepreneurs and shared her journey from the basement to the boardroom. She then sat on the pitch panel as an angel investor for the event alongside HSN and QVC, and she has now invested in several of the entrepreneurs she met through the Academy.
Partnering for a good cause is also important to Sandy. In 2017 alone, she donated more than $1.3 million to charitable organizations with a focus on those that support youth and families of New Hampshire.
Sandy has won several awards including Business Leader of the Year for 2018 from Business NH Magazine, the CLIA Hall of Fame Award for Lifetime Achievement in the cruise industry, and the Women of Achievement Award from Girls, Inc.