SOUTHOLD, N.Y. – Sea Tow Services International – started in 1983 by Captain Joe Frohnhoefer in response to the U.S. Coast Guard’s decision to cease servicing boaters in non-emergency situations – is celebrating 35 years in business on September 3. A pioneer of the marine assistance industry, the Long Island-based company has since grown to more than 100 locations serving thousands of communities across the United States, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean.
Frohnhoefer’s son and daughter, Joseph Frohnhoefer III and Kristen Frohnhoefer, now follow in their father’s footsteps as they lead Sea Tow into its 35th year providing services – from tows and fuel deliveries to salvage and recovery, environmental clean-up and more – to Sea Tow members and boaters all over the world.
“Our father left some big shoes to fill, but Kristen and I couldn’t be more honored to continue the family tradition of helping boaters in need,” said Joseph, the company’s CEO. “My father always said, ‘A bad day out on the water is a thousand times better than a good day at a work, especially when you are a Sea Tow member,’ and I couldn’t agree more. It’s been such a pleasure being able to work with the amazing network of captains and other crew that are part of Sea Tow and spending each and every day doing what I love.”
Sea Tow captains – in their distinctive yellow boats – have earned the reputation as “everyday heroes” in boating communities both big and small. Over the past 35 years, they have been there to lend a hand, saving countless lives and helping both members and nonmembers get the assistance they need, 24/7, 365.
Captain John McLaughlin – owner of franchises in Atlantic City, New Jersey and Marco Island, Florida – has been a part of Sea Tow since the 1990s and has seen this effect firsthand.
“I’ve been with Sea Tow for more than 23 years now,” McLaughlin said. “I’ve been a part of its incredible growth from a licensing company to its current franchise model. The way Sea Tow is run with honesty and integrity and the high expectations that Captain Joe – and now Joseph and Kristen – have keep you prepared for when disaster strikes.
“Just getting through hurricanes and other disasters, I can’t say enough how many wonderful comments I received from insurance companies and other responders about the level of professionalism they experience when they deal with Sea Tow,” he added. “I never thought I’d be this proud to wear that yellow shirt.”
In addition to its membership program and the typical services Sea Tow provides, its nonprofit – the Sea Tow Foundation – helps spread awareness and education of safe boating practices to boaters of all ages. From its seminal Life Jacket Loaner Program – which celebrates its 10th year in 2018 – to its Designated Sober Skipper Program focusing the merits of sober boating, the Sea Tow Foundation has become a champion for safe boating nationwide.
“The Foundation is a key part of our overall mindset here at Sea Tow,” said Kristen Frohnhoefer, both the company’s and Foundation’s president. “Our Foundation team and volunteers do an incredible job of teaching boaters about the importance of always keeping safety at the forefront. Our captains are always there to help boaters when things go wrong, but ultimately we want boaters to have a fun and safe day of boating.”
In addition to the Life Jacket Loaner and Designated Sober Skipper Programs, the Foundation also hosts its Beacon Rental Program where boaters can rent emergency beacons and even a new social media campaign it calls “My Vest Friends.” Sea Tow’s nationwide Automated Radio Check program is also geared toward improving safety on the water.
In the end, for the Frohnhoefers and Sea Tow, it’s all about helping boaters in any way they can.
“At the end of the day, we pride ourselves on being good stewards out on the water, whether that’s through our typical Sea Tow service calls, our work with the Foundation or just getting out there and volunteering within the thousands of communities we serve,” Kristen Frohnhoefer said. “We couldn’t be prouder of the network of service-minded men and women who have helped build Sea Tow into the industry leader it is today and we’re looking forward to continuing along that path for the next 35 years and beyond.”