Late last month, captains from all over the country converged on Charleston, South Carolina for the 2019 Sea Tow Annual Meeting. Not only was it a great opportunity for our captains to get together, talk shop and share ideas, but it was a chance for us to recognize the incredible efforts so many of our captains have given during their work over the past 12 months.
During the event, which was held at the Francis Marion Hotel in downtown Charleston from November 19-21, Sea Tow leadership took the time to recognize several of our best captains for lifesaving efforts, outstanding customer service and operations, dedication to boating safety, and more.
This year’s crop of awards included:
- Sea Tow Franchise of the Year – awarded to the franchise that most exemplifies Sea Tow’s high standards of service and operation – was presented to Sea Tow Portland/Midcoast owners Bruce White and Matt Wilder.
- The Georgia Frohnhoefer Award – named after Sea Tow’s Board of Directors Chairwoman, Georgia Frohnhoefer, honors an outstanding woman in the Sea Tow network each year – was presented to Amy Donaldson of Sea Tow Sebastian (Fla.).
- Sea Tow Rookie of the Year –recognizes the top performing new Sea Tow franchise owner – went to Sea Tow Southern Connecticut, Capt. John Bilski.
- The Sea Tow Foundation Hero Award – presented to the franchisee who most exemplifies the Sea Tow Foundation’s mission to promote boating safety – went to Capt. Chris Hampton of Sea Tow St. Augustine (Fla.).
- The Sea Tow Shipmate Award – presented to the franchise owner who most exemplifies enthusiasm, a supportive attitude, knowledge and willingness to help fellow franchises – was presented to Captains Steve and Dave Winkler of Sea Tow Boston.
- The Captain Joe Frohnhoefer Visionary Award – presented to the captain who most exemplifies the vision of Sea Tow’s founder, Capt. Joe Frohnhoefer – was presented to Capt. John Ward, owner of Sea Tow franchises in Pensacola and Destin, Florida, as well as Lakes Gaston, Wylie, Norman and Kerr in North Carolina.
- The Public Relations Champion Award – a brand-new award recognizing the franchise who best utilized PR and marketing practices to promote the Sea Tow brand – was presented to Sea Tow Smith Mountain Lake (Va.) owners Rick and Nancy Ellett.
“We are extraordinarily proud of our award winners and are thankful for their dedication and commitment to Sea Tow through outstanding customer service, business best practices, boating safety advocacy and community involvement,” said Sea Tow President, Kristen Frohnhoefer. “We’d also like to congratulate the entire network, 2019 has been a fantastic year.”
In addition to the company’s franchise-specific awards, Sea Tow recognized several of its captains for lifesaving and efforts above and beyond the call of duty. Sea Tow CEO Joseph Frohnhoefer III presented awards to the following captains:
For “Lifesaving Efforts:”
- Captain Michael Panichello of Sea Tow Fort Myers for rescuing a man who had been swept out to sea by a heavy rip current off Fort Myers Beach. The man was near complete exhaustion when Capt. Panichello first discovered him.
- Captains Casey Canady and Thomas Crossland of Sea Tow Marco Island for rescuing a man who was discovered unconscious and face down in the water after falling off a personal watercraft near the S.S. Jolley Bridge in Marco Island. Capt. Canady – a trained firefighter – performed CPR on the man who, after spending multiple days in critical condition in a medically-induced coma, eventually recovered with no signs permanent damage.
For “Efforts Above and Beyond:”
- Captain Luis Rodas of Sea Tow Fort Lauderdale for assisting with the rescue of two boaters who had hit a sea wall and crashed into a dock just west of the Intracoastal Waterway. Capt. Rodas also recovered the vessel as the two boaters were being tended to by paramedics.
- Captains John Rambo and Danny Freidman of Sea Tow Treasure Coast for rescuing six men whose 35-foot boat began taking on water about 50 miles offshore from Treasure Coast while en route to the Bahamas for a spearfishing trip.
- Captain Christian Johannsen of Sea Tow Fort Lauderdale for helping local emergency response units rescue three fishermen who had become stranded on a jetty off Hillsboro Inlet as the tide came back in.
- Captain Kevin Wipplinger of Sea Tow Fort Lauderdale for helping to rescue an injured diver who was unconscious and bleeding profusely after receiving a large laceration on his arm from his vessel’s propeller off Port Everglades Inlet.
- Captain John Donaldson of Sea Tow Sebastian assisted a family while a boater had a stroke onboard his sailboat. Capt. John, transported the wife to the hospital before the “golden hour” of strokes where it is imperative that a victim receives treatment. There is no doubt that his fast response & compassion changed the outcome. The sail boater fully recovered.
“These captains are incredible representatives of everything Sea Tow stands for,” Captain Frohnhoefer said of the six honorees. “Thanks to their tremendous efforts, boaters around the country are safe and out of harm’s way. They’re true guardian angels and we couldn’t be prouder to have them wearing Sea Tow yellow.”
Help us thank this year’s award winners by sharing your congratulations in the comments below!