TowBoatUS Knapps Narrows, Maryland, owned by Capt. Mary Gilmer, was awarded “Tower of the Year” at the recent annual gathering of the TowBoatUS fleet. Capt. Gilmer stands out for her longevity and service assisting Chesapeake Bay boaters. Starting the business in 1989, she’s had over three decades at the helm in a male-dominated on-water boat towing and salvage industry as well as among the 130-plus independently owned TowBoatUS towing companies across the nation.
The coveted Tower of the Year award recognizes professionalism in providing recreational boaters with 24/7 on-water towing and assistance services. This includes a near-perfect 24-hour towing dispatch operation, high customer satisfaction surveys and on-water towing case management.
Also earning the company honors was their stand-out marketing efforts and business operations. The small local business on the shores of Eastern Maryland has an outsized and engaging online media presence across the Chesapeake Bay and employs the latest dispatch technology to speed response times. The company also supports environmental efforts such as the annual Bay Paddle and ShoreRivers, and makes great efforts to give back to the community to keep boaters safe through partnerships with the nonprofit Inspired by Hannah foundation and other local events. The company also supports the nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water on-water training programs that educate boaters in safe boating practices.
Also with the company are Capt. Gilmer’s daughter, Capt. Sarah Lawrence, who handles marketing and dispatch, and son-in-law, Capt. Adam Lawrence, who manages the company’s fleet of three towing and response vessels. During peak season, the company employs up to 13 staff from towing captains to divers, contributing to the rural region’s local economy.
The company is also a member of the Accredited for Commercial Assistance and Professional Towing program that adheres to high standards of service, training, and equipment, and is a member of the Chesapeake Marine Towing Assistance & Association that assists with good Samaritan rescues on the Bay.
Much like an auto club for recreational boaters, the company is part of a nationwide network of more than 600 red TowBoatUS towboats at 300-plus locations that responds to more than 80,000 requests annually for routine on-water assistance.
The company can be reached using the BoatUS App, hailed on VHF channel 16, by calling the company directly at 410-745-3000, or by phoning the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Center at 800-391-4869.