It’s important to celebrate, whether it be the little or the big, all milestones are important. Here at Sea Tow, we’re fortunate to have had recognized many over the last year and we’re looking forward to continuing through the end. This month, we’re recognizing three captains who, collectively, are celebrating 40-plus years of Sea Tow service.
A decade ago, Captain Paul Bonfiglio, alongside the Patt family, helped open the first Sea Tow franchise on a lake in Pennsylvania at the beautiful 400-acre Raystown Lake resort. Since then, Capt. Paul and his crew have grown to five captains and two boats at the popular 650-slip resort marina. There, they service boaters of all types as they come throughout the summer months to enjoy some of the state’s best boating.
“The day we officially launched Sea Tow Raystown Lake was a big day for the resort,” Capt. Paul said. “Before, there wasn’t a 24/7 service like ours for boaters on the lake who ended up stranded or broken down. Today, our distinctive yellow boats are a community staple and many resort guests know us all by name. It’s such a great community and we’re proud to serve members and guests each and every day.”
At the same time, nearly 1,500 miles southwest of Raystown Lake, Captain Billy Kern took the helm of Sea Tow Galveston Bay along the Gulf of Mexico.
Capt. Billy has been boating all his life. He served four years in the Navy, earning the distinguished Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal during his time of service, and also enhanced his salvage expertise while working on the recovery of the USS Cole.
After his Navy tenure, Capt. Billy earned his 1,600-ton master license, and shortly after, he was presented with the opportunity to purchase his local Sea Tow franchise. Without a second thought, he and his wife Christina jumped at it.
“Taking over here at Sea Tow Galveston Bay was one of the best decisions I ever made,” Capt. Billy said. “Boating and saltwater is in my blood, I couldn’t imagine spending my days anywhere else than out here on the water.”
A decade later, he has grown the business from just two boats to five vessels, four captains and two office staff, plus a one-acre storage yard and shop. Still a family run business, Capt. Billy gets plenty of help on the day-to-day operations from his wife, Christina and sister-in-law Elizabeth.
“We have such a great team here at Galveston Bay,” Capt. Billy added. “We’re all friends and family, and that makes the job feel like anything but ‘work.’ We wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Not far from Sea Tow International headquarters is Sea Tow Shinnecock/Moriches, headed by Captain Les Trafford, who is celebrating 20-years of business. Since he took the helm in 1999, Capt. Les has become a staple of the Sea Tow network.
His hard work and dedication to the marine industry has earned him several awards, including the U.S. Coast Guard Public Service Award and the Carnegie Hero Fund’s Medal for Acts of Extraordinary Civilian Heroism. His reputation earned him a place on the team, led by his local Coast Guard, that developed a master chart encompassing their local waters – one that has been key in improving safety for the local boating community.
“These three captains are pillars of the Sea Tow network,” said Sea Tow CEO, Joseph Frohnhoefer III. “Their collective service of 40-plus years is a testament to their dedication and commitment. We’re thankful to have Capt. Billy, Capt. Les and Capt. Paul as part of our team.”