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Banker ditches Wall Street, hits the wakeboard

It didn't take Joey Flotteron very long to realize that Wall Street was not for him.

In September 2011, four months into his job as a derivatives broker at ICAP, the Villanova graduate had an epiphany: "You're gonna show up to the same office and stare at the same screen next to the same people everyday for the rest of your life. That was really tough for me."

Flotteron had had enough and without another job lined up, he quit. "I actually just quit to not be unhappy anymore," he told CNBC.

As a stopgap measure, Flotteron took a summer job with a wakeboarding school in Sag Harbor, New York, where he had worked during high school and college. He figured the three-month gig would allow him time to figure out his next step while doing something he loved. Flotteron had grown up on Long Island, teaching wakeboarding and captaining charter boats in the Hamptons to pay for college.

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Recreational boating in New York state is a $2.4 billion-a-year industry, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, with approximately 10 percent coming from the eastern part of Long Island where Flotteron lived and worked. But while commuting by ferry to his job in Sag Harbor, Flotteron noticed that companies on Long Island were so focused on customers in the Hamptons that they largely ignored the growing tourist population on the North Fork, where he lived. He saw an opportunity, and at the end of August 2012, Flotteron decided to strike out on his own.

Joey Flotteron doing something he loves: getting pulled really fast behind a boat.
David Grogan | CNBC
Joey Flotteron doing something he loves: getting pulled really fast behind a boat.

With all of his savings and a bank loan, he purchased his first boat and founded Peconic Water Sports in Southold, New York. He planned to offer wakeboarding lessons and private charters. In the months before his first summer, Flotteron built a website and tried to publicize his new venture. He enlisted his younger brother and a friend to help out, both of whom got their captain's licenses.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Flotteron and his employees work seven days a week to take full advantage of the short season. To keep costs low, Peconic eschews some traditional business expenses. Instead of a brick-and-mortar office, he uses a boat. Payments are accepted via a Square reader on an iPhone and waivers are signed on an iPad.

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During the winter months, Flotteron lives "on almost nothing" to make money available for the business. The off-season is spent updating the website, upgrading boats and equipment, and expanding the menu of offerings.

Last winter, Flotteron spent six months in the Dominican Republic, learning to teach kite boarding. An instructor he met on that trip now teaches at Peconic.

The story of Joey Flotteron's career-change is part of CNBC's series "Escaping The Cube."

By CNBC's Karen Stern

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