Captain Joe Frohnhoefer and his wife Georgia began their Southold business 30 years ago based on a dream and a shared passion for the water.
Now, three decades later, the couple is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Sea Tow Services International, an on-water assistance fleet that comes to the rescue of boaters in distress.
The pair credits their unique strengths -- "Captain Joe's" knowledge of maritime issues and Georgia's attention to detail -- for the company's success. And, they give kudos to what they deem "an impressive worldwide network of everyday heroes, their Sea Town captains."
To celebrate, Sea Tow will host a series of nationwide events throughout the year, including a Golden Life Jacket Award, Joe & Georgia's 30th Anniversary Boat Show TOur, Thirty Days of Thirty Gifts, and a Holiday Stuff-A-Boat event.
“Each day I wake up grateful that Georgia and I were able to grow a thriving business around something I really enjoy doing -- being out on the water. Every day brings its own new challenges and it’s definitely never boring,” Frohnhoefer said. “That’s the common ground I have with the Sea Tow franchisees; we all agree that a bad day out on the water is a thousand times better than a good day at a typical office job.”
Sea Tow Services International was founded in 1983. The franchise-based marine assistance organization was created after to the United States Coast Guard's privatization of non-emergency calls mandate.
Boaters who find themselves in distress out on the open waters call Sea Tow to handle emergencies ranging from jump starts and fuel delivery to a tow back to shore.
Today, Sea Tow Services International has grown into a network of nearly 100 franchise locations across the United States, offices in Europe and the Caribbean -- and includes over 700 captains.
"I've been with Sea Tow for more than 18 years now," said Captain John McLaughlin, franchise owner in Atlantic City and Franco Island, Florida.
McLaughlin said he has been a part of the company's "incredible growth" from licensing company to its current franchise model. "The way Sea Tow is run, with honesty and integrity, and the high expectations that Captain Joe has -- it keeps you prepared for when disaster strikes. Everything I do, and everything every other franchisee does, really reflects well on all of us."
After facing Hurricane Sandy, McLaughlin said he received positive feedback from insurance companies and other responders about Sea Tow's level of professionalism. "I never thought I'd be this proud to wear that yellow shirt," he said.
Sea Tow Services International and the Sea Tow Foundation also provides safety precaution services including life jacket loaner programs, boating and trailer tips, a free Automated Radio Check service and a Sea Tow App.
Have you ever had to call Sea Tow? Share your experience with Patch in the comments section.