Capt. Kerry Kline Looks Back on 10-years of Business
For many, 2009 may not seem like that long ago, but for Capt. Kerry Kline – owner and head captain of Sea Tow Central Florida Lakes – much has changed since the day he first took to the helm ten years ago this month.
Over the last decade, Kline and his wife, Karen, have transformed his Central Florida fran-chise from a small operation serving around 240 members into the largest geographical service area of any Sea Tow franchise across the country, serving 8,000 square miles of beautiful Floridian waterways.
“When I first took over, we would receive a call and have to write down all of the customer’s information – their name, member number, boat, coordinates – the whole nine yards,” Kline said. “Then, we had to relay that same information to the dispatched captain via phone or radio, where they would then have to take everything down manually before heading out to a call. Now, with all this new technology we have at our fingertips, all that data is sent straight to the captain’s iPad, saving valuable time and streamlining the whole operation.”
That updated, streamlined approach to handling and dispatching calls has improved wait times and overall efficiency for Kline’s inland operation, which serves more than 2,000 lakes, rivers and streams throughout Central Florida.
“Boating is supposed to be fun. We want to do whatever we can to make sure that if some-thing happens and your day on the water is interrupted by a breakdown or if you run out of gas, that we’re there to get you back to having fun as quickly as possible,” Kline said. “Efficiency is key to making that happen.”
Kline has a network of nine trailered boats strategically placed throughout his service area, with a group of more than a dozen captains ready to jump into action as soon as a call comes through.
“Before we started, there was no one there to service boaters throughout Central Florida,” he added. “When someone ran out of fuel or broke down, local law enforcement were the only ones there and that’s not really their job. These days, we can reach just about anyone on any of these local bodies of water within the hour, no matter where you are.”
Kline said he prides himself on using that saved manpower to further help his members and other area boaters.
“We spend a lot of time educating the importance of boat maintenance, safety and other topics to our members through newsletters and events we hold,” he said. “While we may make our business on being there when things go wrong, we want each and every boater to have the most enjoyable time possible when they’re out on the water with their friends and family. After all, that’s what it’s all about.”
This community- and customer-focused mentality has helped Kline pull in a number of in-dustry accolades, including being named Sea Tow’s “Franchise of the Year” in 2016.
He also hosts five Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Stations throughout his service area and holds an annual toy drive benefitting the local Toys for Tots chapter. This past year, Kline and his crew gathered nearly two tons of new, unwrapped toys and more than $5,400 in cash donations.
Sea Tow CEO Joseph Frohnhoefer III said Kline’s dedication to always being there is what makes him the quintessential Sea Tow captain.
“Sea Tow is all about being there to make boating as fun and stress-free as possible for people everywhere,” Frohnhoefer said. “Capt. Kerry and his wife Karen are a testament to those values. I couldn’t think of anyone more worthy of wearing Sea Tow yellow. They’re everything we look for in an owner and we couldn’t be prouder to have them as a part of our team.”