FOUNDER BIO

Sandy Cleary

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.” So the question she asked herself was, “what do I love?” Sandy loved to cruise. She would take at least one weekend cruise a month on Royal Caribbean’s Viking Serenade out of San Pedro 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.


Over the past 25 years, Sandy has grown 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. CruCon now ranks as one of the largest members of Travel Leaders Network and is a leading seller of cruises in North America.  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. She has also built strong relationships with both cruise line executives and her peer group of agency owners.   

  

In December 2017, CruCon made another stunning alliance with lifestyle retailer HSN.  It’s a first of its kind partnership with a travel agency and, has been said, could be a renaissance for both entities. Along with Sandy’s on-air appearances, HSN will provide a showcase for all things cruising and expose cruising to its following of 90 million consumers that otherwise might overlook this expanding travel sector. 


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, bring their products to market, and propel them faster on the road to success.


Partnering for a good cause is also important to Sandy. In 2017, SLC Group Holdings (in the name of CruCon Holdings) donated more than $1.3 million to charitable organizations, especially those that support youth and families of New Hampshire.  

Sandy Cleary - Founder, SLC  Group Holdings & CruCon Cruise Outlet

Sandy Cleary - Founder, SLC Group Holdings & CruCon Cruise Outlet

PHILANTHROPY, AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Philanthropic Efforts

  • Boys & Girls Club of Laconia for facility improvements
  • Sandwich Children’s Center towards renovations
  • Granite State Children’s Alliance for expansion of services
  • Girls Incorporated of Nashua for expansion and refurbishment
  • SEE Science Center of Manchester for development of new exhibits
  • The Monarch School of New England for growth to support more students with special needs
  • (CASA) New Hampshire Court Appointed Special Advocates that supports neglected and abused children
  • (CHAD) Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth, which supports every child’s health needs regardless of their ability to pay
  • The Greater Lakes Region Children’s Auction which raises funds to directly support needy families and children within the Lakes Region of New Hampshire

Business & Community

  • Business NH Magazine, Business Leader of the Year 2018
  • Business NH Magazine, Business of the Year Award 2017 (Hospitality/Tourism) 
  • Outstanding Women in Business Award 2014 by NHBR and Centrix Bank 
  • NH Senate recognizing her 2014 Outstanding Women in Business Award 
  • Community Pride 2014 from Meredith, NH Chamber of Commerce 
  • NHBR for Excellence in Consumer Services 2014 
  • Appreciation Award for Fundraising Efforts by United Way 2011-2012 
  • CASA – Deepest Appreciation award for Sandy’s Commitment to Improving the Lives of NH Children 
  • Business NH Magazine – Intriguing Women Leaders, 2013 Top Women-Led Businesses 
  • Golden Hammer Award from Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce 
  • Wolfeboro Chamber of Commerce “Beautiful Award” in making the Wolfeboro area more attractive for the benefit of the community 
  • Centrix Bank “C-Beyond” Award

Cruise Industry

  • Cruise Lines International Association’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics
  • Travelzoo Awards Winner, voted #1 seven years in a row 
  • Overall Account of the Year, Celebrity Cruises 
  • Overall Online Partner of the Year, Celebrity Cruises 
  • Chairman’s Award, Celebrity Cruises 
  • President’s Award for Overall Achievement, Royal Caribbean International 
  • Partner of the Year, Loyalty Partner of the Year, Royal Caribbean International 
  • Chairman’s Award for Overall Achievement, Royal Caribbean International 
  • Power of the Partnership Chairman’s Award, Vacation.com 
  • Carnival Cruise Lines’ Agency of the Year 
  • Norwegian President’s Club Elite, Agency of the Year Award