Georgia Frohnhoefer has been living, sleeping, eating and breathing Sea Tow ever since her husband, the late Capt. Joe Frohnhoefer, founded the organization back in 1983. She served as Sea Tow’s Executive Vice President for more than 30 years, and still goes into the Sea Tow office every day. Today, she is Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, making sure Sea Tow lives up to Capt. Joe’s ideals.
In fact, when Capt. Joe proposed marriage to Georgia, he did it by saying, “Do you want to be my Vice President?” she recalls with a smile. At the time, he had just started a summer boat rental operation on Long Island’s North Fork and she pitched right in to help him run it. Later, when they inherited his family’s business, Frohnhoefer Electric Co. in Southold, N.Y., Georgia took over the role of bookkeeper even though she had no formal accounting training. When the company went through an audit, the auditors were amazed when the books came out “to the penny.”
“Everything I learned to do is on-the-job training,” she says, attributing her business successes to a strong work ethic.
Another highlight of Georgia’s career came after she and Capt. Joe started SeaSpill, Sea Tow’s marine spill and environmental cleanup operation, in 1990, in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. A couple of years later, they were invited to a meeting of the national spill response industry along with the heads of several large spill-cleanup corporations. “The chairman said, ‘You don’t usually see a husband-and-wife team,’” she recalls.
Georgia and Capt. Joe are role models for many of hardworking couples who manage their Sea Tow location together. “In the Sea Tow Network, it’s usually the spouse or significant other or a member of the family who helps out in the office,” says Georgia. Each year she presents the Sea Tow Award named after her to a female member of the network. “The women are the energy. They are absolutely remarkable in pursuing their goals. I’m so proud of them, and that’s why picking a winner is so difficult.”
Georgia is also very proud of her children, Kristen and Joseph, who today serve as Sea Tow’s president and CEO, respectively. They spent their childhood out on Sea Tow boats on the water with Capt. Joe and answering the office telephones with Georgia. “I grew up with Sea Tow, and so did they,” she says. “They did everything that every local Sea Tow operator is doing, which helps them to better understand what is best for the Sea Tow Network and for the future of Sea Tow. Together, we are carrying on Joe’s vision.”