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Thomson man acquires LakeTow, Inc., business, makes plans to expand service to other Georgia lakes

John Gridley loves the outdoors - especially the hundreds of acres of beautiful Clarks Hill Lake.

Like so many people, Mr. Gridley had been used to venturing to the lake for recreational activities, such as boating with his family when time permitted from his job working at a foundry in Warrenton. Earlier this year, Mr. Gridley, who lives in Thomson, was laid off when the TRW plant shut its doors due to the economy.

He remembers all too well being out of work for 4½ months.

"Being out of a job was very difficult," said Mr. Gridley.

After spending weeks searching for a new job, he soon discovered a business for sale. It wasn't just any business, though. It was one located on the lake. The business, known as LakeTow, Inc., was purchased by Mr. Gridley from Chris Chapel of Lakeside Marine on June 15.

Since then, Mr. Gridley has been working non-stop promoting his new business, which provides a towing service for boats that break down at the lake on both the Georgia and South Carolina side.

"This is something I truly enjoy," said Mr. Gridley after informing several boat owners who were taking a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary course at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Visitors Center last Saturday about his newly acquired business and the services rendered. "I've got the best of both worlds. I've got a job again and I love being on the lake offering a service that helps people."

All of the calls to LakeTow, Inc., go directly through to his cell phone, if a boater is stranded and needs help. He charges a yearly fee of $100, which entitles a person to receive services as many times during the course of the year as they need them.

"If someone calls a half dozen times or a dozen times, I'll be there," said Mr. Gridley of boat owners who decide to subscribe for the yearly service.

Non-members are charged a minimum of $150 an hour for towing services.

"No matter where you are on the lake, I'll find you, if you need me," added Mr. Gridley.

Currently, business is more brisk during the week than it is on the weekend, said Mr. Gridley, a former U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Marine master while living in Sheboygan, Wisc.

"I've received a lot of favorable comments about the service that I'm providing," said Mr. Gridley. "Officials with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division all think it's a service much-needed on the lake. It makes me feel real good to know that I'm providing a service to people when they need me. I like giving them a sense of security while they are enjoying themselves on the lake."

Mr. Gridley's bright yellow tow boat is powered by a 2008 Evinrude 250 engine.

"This boat will allow me to pull house boats, etc.," said Mr. Gridley, who is helped in his business by part-time employee Dave Carper, a Washington resident. Mr. Carper, like Mr. Gridley, is a licensed U.S. Coast Guard captain.

The new business owner said his wife couldn't be happier, because she realizes how happy he now is. His wife's name is Regina and the couple has a son, Morgan Hyde, 11.

"I'm not making the money that I was making at the foundry, but I'm very happy," said Mr. Gridley.

Already, he has big dreams for his new business.

"Within five years, I want to have a tow boat on every lake in Georgia," said Mr. Gridley. "I think that's a real realistic goal."

Anyone wishing additional information about LakeTow, Inc. can contact Mr. Gridley at 706-986-9588.

Web posted on Thursday, July 30, 2009

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