Owner and CEO of Groundswell Limited.
Hugh W. Treadwell, Jr. is the owner and Chief Executive Officer of Groundswell Ltd. Founded by Hugh in 2014, Groundswell is a Palm Beach County, Florida based private consultancy focused primarily on disruptive and luxury business concepts. Groundswell provides a wide range of strategic business development services to clients in the retail, wholesale, manufacturing, marketing, branding, design, strategic planning, and management areas of the luxury, diamond, gemstone, jewelry, timepiece, apparel, media, wine/spirits, hospitality, tourism, travel retail and duty free industries.
Hugh’s current clients include Legemdary, the diamond industry’s first reverse auction, wholesale direct to customer e-tailer, The Ultimate Island Guide, the first social media style, image based, direct-booking travel planning website, Prive’ Porter, the largest e-tailer of new, unused Hermes handbags in the world, and Island Company, the premier tropical, luxury-travel lifestyle brand.
From 1989-2006, Hugh spent 17 years in the cruise ship industry where he was a founding member of Onboard Media, the leader in cruise line port of call shopping promotions, custom publishing and video production. Hugh was the company’s first professional port shopping lecturer, prior to being made the Manager of Port Shopping Programs and later being named Company Vice President and Partner.
During his eleven years at Onboard, Hugh literally wrote the book on how to drive sales from “the gangway to the goods” in high street stores, primarily duty free watch and jewelry and luxury merchants in ports of call around the world. These programs were initially offered only in the Caribbean region and Hugh was responsible for opening the cruising markets of Central and South America, Alaska, the Baltic and the Mediterranean to successful dynamic port shopping promotions resulting in his personal hiring and training of over 150 Port Shopping Guides, serving 8 major cruise lines, over 500 high street stores and numerous luxury brand clients worldwide.
At Onboard, Hugh pioneered the integration of traditional print and video advertising for luxury brands across itineraries, regions, or entire cruise lines with local retailer promotion programs designed to drive brand specific sales directly to authorized retailers in the ports of call.
Onboard Media developed the concept of in-room television for port shopping promotion with their ‘Shopping In Paradise” program and Hugh was also the creator and Executive Editor of Onboard’s proprietary magazine, “Time & Design, The Cruising Guide to Fine Watches and Jewelry.”
In 2000, subsequent to Onboard Media’s 1998 acquisition of leading cruise ship duty free retailers Greyhound Leisure Services and Alders (Nuance), Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton (LVMH) purchased the company, at the time the largest concessionaire to the cruise industry. In 2001, Hugh was internally recruited to become Vice President of Operations for the newly named Starboard Cruise Services, the largest cruise ship retailer in the world where he oversaw the retail operations for Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea, Radisson Seven Seas, Seabourne, Cunard, Windstar and the World of Residensea.
At Starboard, Hugh created the Special Event Sales Program. This first of its kind program was responsible for identifying unique and indigenous luxury artisans from around the world to come onboard for educational, interactive sales engagements lasting anywhere from a day to entire seasons. Featuring lectures, appearances, special events and trunk show style sales focused on jewelry, gems, watches and objects d’art from the worldwide ports of call, this department grew from inception to 40M USD million dollars in 5 years under Hugh’s leadership and vision.
During his tenure at Starboard, the responsibility for the marketing strategy of the company was also added to his position along with the management of the department. In that role, he created the cruise industry’s first gift catalogs and wrote and produced the industry’s first in-cabin television channel dedicated to onboard retail, “ShopOnboard Television.”
Hugh was a Platinum member of The Florida Caribbean Cruise Association and a member of the Cruise Line International Association during this time and was a frequent panelist on the topics of port shopping, overall port experience and onboard revenue and wrote numerous articles and features on luxury products for Onboard Media publications and travel retail industry trade publications.
From 2006-2014, Hugh lived on the Caribbean island of Grand Cayman and was the Chief Executive Officer of Active Capital Ltd (ACL). ACL was the holding and management company for a variety of investments in the consumer sector, including Island Companies Ltd. (ICL), Cayman Distributors Group (Blackbeards Trading Company Ltd., Cayman Distributors Ltd., Big Daddy’s Wines and Spirits, West Indies Wine Company and Liquor Outlet), Passman and Caribbean Canvas Company.
Hugh served as a Managing Director at Island Companies and was responsible for all divisions of this 20 location duty free and travel-retail company, specializing in diamonds, jewelry, timepieces, eyewear, beauty, and accessories. While there, Hugh developed the concept, branding and store designs for ICL’s proprietary retail concepts Island Time, Watch.Me, and The Mansion.
At Cayman Distributors Group (CDG), Hugh served as Managing director of all companies from their individual acquisitions through their subsequent group restructuring. CDG owned and operated 15 duty paid and duty free beer, wine and spirit stores and was also the island’s premier wholesale distributor for all brands in these categories. Hugh pioneered the strategy of machine automated in-store wine tasting culminating in his concept and store design of the groundbreaking West Indies Wine Company in 2012.
Founded in 1977 on Grand Cayman, Bernard K. Passman was the preeminent luxury black coral jeweler with locations also in the US Virgin Islands, Alaska, Hawaii and Beverly Hills, Hugh served on the board as well as the being CEO and was responsible for the rebranding and new creative direction for the company as Passman. Caribbean Canvas Company was a West Indies lifestyle concept brand founded by Hugh where he served as Creative Director and CEO.
While on Grand Cayman, as the only person to ever have run a cruise line port shopping business, an onboard cruise retail business and a cruise destination duty free business, Hugh had the unique perspective of being both a client of his previous company Onboard Media and a competitor to Starboard Cruise Services as well.
During this time, Hugh also served as an elected Board Director of The Cayman Islands Tourism Association for 7 years, a charter member of The Association For The Advancement of Cruise Tourism, a Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce Mentor and an advisor to Cayman Islands Junior Achievement.
Hugh is a graduate of the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University and holds a degree in Marketing with a minor in Advertising.
Born in Connecticut and having lived in New Mexico, Texas, Miami Beach, and Grand Cayman, Hugh now resides in North Palm Beach County, Florida with his two daughters. He enjoys travel, arts, surfing, diving, boating, reading, music and food and wine.