Together, making boating the preferred choice in recreation

Charles Chapman Award

The Charles Chapman Award honors individuals or groups within the marine industry who have made outstanding contributions to the sport of boating for the benefit of the recreational boating industry and boating public.  
NMMA and its managing Board of Directors would like to congratulate the 2013 Charles Chapman Award Recipient Capt. Joe Frohnhoefer, CEO and Founder of Sea Tow Services International

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) recognized Capt. Joe Frohnhoefer with the Charles F. Chapman Award for his distinguished career spanning more than 40 years in the boating industry. Frohnhoefer received the Award during the annual Recreational Boating Industry Breakfast held at the Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail on Thursday, February 14th, 2014.

First established in 1977, the Chapman Award recognizes individuals or groups that have provided consistent promotion and protection of the sport of boating and its benefits to both the recreational boating industry and the public. The award, presented each year during the Miami show, includes a $1,000 donation to a marine-oriented organization of the recipient’s choice.

“NMMA is honored to recognize Joe for his extensive achievements in improving the boating experience for our nation’s 88 million boaters,” noted NMMA President Thom Dammrich. “Joe’s passion for life on the water combined with his commitment to boater safety have helped shape how our industry serves boaters while they’re out on the water, creating a better boating experience from coast-to-coast.”

Capt. Joe Frohnhoefer, CEO and Founder of Sea Tow Services International, based in Southold, NY, is an avid boater with an unwavering interest in serving the public. In 1965, he started Water Thrills Inc., a marine company offering Water Skiing instruction, Red Cross Swimming instruction, sailboat and powerboat rentals. During this time, he also served as a volunteer emergency medical technician, firefighter, reaching the rank of Captain, and was president of the North Fork Lions Club and Mattituck Gun Club.

In 1982, a change in the United States Coast Guard (USCG) regulations led to the decision that the USCG would no longer tow in non-emergency situations. The opportunity to combine his life saving skills, commitment to public service, entrepreneurial spirit and love of the water was the inspiration for Frohnhoefer to found Sea Tow Services International Inc. in 1983.

Continuing his goal of giving back to the boating public, Capt. Joe founded the Sea Tow Foundation in 2007 with the goal of providing tools and education to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities on the water.  To date the Sea Tow Foundation has provided over 20,000 life jackets to the boating public via its Life Jacket Loaner program. Today, you can still find Captain Joe towing boats in the waters of Long Island Sound, Peconic Bay and off the coast of Montauk.


2012 Chapman Award Recipients:

Geoff Eisenberg, President and Chief Executive Officer, West Marine, has had a hand in shaping West Marine’s service-driven culture and in formulating its current strategy, as both an executive of the Company and a member of its Board, since joining the company in 1976. Since Dec. 2007, Mr. Eisenberg has served as West Marine’s President and CEO. He held various senior executive positions from 1976 until 1994 and has been active with the Company in one senior capacity or another right through to his current role.

While away from operational duties at West Marine from 1994-2007, Geoff ran a successful management and strategic consulting business specializing in CEO training and professional management development. Eisenberg is a past CEO of Salz Leathers Inc., a manufacturer of high quality leather, and is a past CEO of Greenhorn Creek Associates, a Real Estate and Golf Development company.

An experienced sailor, Geoff has extensive experience in both local and long distance ocean racing and cruising.

Randy Repass is the founder of West Marine, Inc. and Chairman of the Board of Directors, graduated from Duke University with a BSEE in 1966 and began his career in engineering and marketing with Fairchild Semiconductor. In 1973, he founded Semiconductor Engineering Associates, specializing in programming of computer-controlled testers for complex integrated circuits. Earnings from this business provided the initial financing for West Marine.

In 1968, Mr. Repass founded West Coast Ropes, later to be renamed West Marine, a mail order purveyor of quality three-strand rope. The first retail store was opened in Palo Alto, CA in 1975. Mr. Repass’ sailing background includes frostbite sailing, dinghy racing in FJs and lasers, club racing, coastal cruising in New England, the Northwest and Mexico and several ocean races to Mexico and Hawaii. He has also cruised extensively in the Northwest aboard a traditional New England lobster yacht. He is a former commodore of the Santa Cruz Yacht Club.

For the past few years, Randy and his family have been “product testing” in the Mediterranean aboard their Wylie 66 performance passagemaker Convergence.

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