Steven Rhoades, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and local real estate agent who has worked in the sales and customer service industry, has an admitted “affliction” of owning too many boats - he personally owns five and is a partner on two others. Both his professional boat handling and customer service skills will serve him well as the new owner of TowBoatUS Grand Lake, a 24/7 on-water towing and assistance company for recreational boaters. Rhoades, who has been on boats so long he “can’t remember,” purchased the company from Wade and Paula Silzer, who have decided to retire. Longtime company towboat captain Jason Thomas will remain.
“No matter where I have worked, I’ve always had a rule to treat everyone like my mother,” said Rhoades. “You’ll always do the right thing.” As owner of an on-water assistance company that provides routine tows, soft ungrounding, battery jump and fuel dropoff services, it means going the extra mile. “It’s the little things, like putting a cover on the PWC that I’ve just towed back to an owner’s home, or ensuring a boat lift is up after I have transported a vessel for repairs. I don’t want to see someone’s property go unprotected or get the brunt of an afternoon storm. I treat my customer’s boat like my own.”
The company is part of a nationwide network of more than 300 TowBoatUS locations that responded to more than 80,000 requests from boaters for routine on water help last year.
Much like an auto club for recreational boat owners, BoatUS offers on-water Unlimited Towing Memberships for freshwater boaters and anglers for just $90 per year. Included are more than 25 benefits and discounts, a subscription to BoatUS Magazine, free DSC-VHF radio registration, and more. Boaters without a towing membership face an average nationwide cost of $800 per incident. While the No. 1 request for on-water help is due to an engine breakdown, Rhoades says heavy rains also lead to a lot of trash in the water, which can disable personal watercraft.
The company has two 24-hour towing response vessels, easily recognized by their bright red hulls with “TowBoatUS” in white letters on each side. Fully rigged for towing and salvage, one is stationed at Ketchum Cove and the other at Honey Creek Marina to speed response times across the lake.
Separate from BoatUS on-water towing services, the company offers boat salvage services. Rhoades’ Native American business partner, Tom Tyner, handles the company’s dock construction side of the business.
The fastest way to summon assistance from TowBoatUS Grand Lake is to download the free BoatUS App, which connects boaters to the closest local towing captain. Additionally, the company can be reached at 918-782-8600, by hailing on VHF channel 16, or by phoning the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Center at 800-391-4869. More information can be found at BoatUS.com/Towing, or by calling 800-888-4869.