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Boat towing business plans headquarters on US 41 Bypass

Sea Tow will build its headquarters and an office building for lease off US 41 Bypass South in Venice.
Sea Tow will build its headquarters and an office building for lease off US 41 Bypass South in Venice.
Image courtesy of Wessel Construction
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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While much of Capt. Craig Marcum’s work is on the water, he is building a new headquarters for his business, Sea Tow Venice, on land.

Marcum describes Sea Tow as “AAA but on the water.” He helps boaters in distress who need a tow or in some cases, gas.

“When they have an issue with water or they break down, they run aground, they call us,” Marcum says. “We dispatch a boat to go tow them back in or take them fuel or get them ungrounded or whatever the case might be.”

Soon he will have a 5,000-square-foot office for the operation in addition to his current fleet of five vessels. 

“We’ve always worked out of a home office,” says the Venice resident, but he wanted something more. “Legitimately, you have to have a storefront for any kind of business.”

The office that will be built at 601 U.S. 41 Bypass South in Venice is still pretty close to home; he and his wife live in the neighborhood, he says, and his son resides a few houses away. All three operate Sea Tow Venice, which he says will benefit from having a building.

“We have a need to have office space for people to come in and have conferences and discuss things that are happening and how we’re going to handle them,” Marcum says, speaking with the Business Observer after a May 23 community meeting about the construction project.

While he says his greatest revenue generator is salvage and recovery — such as flaming and derelict boats — Marcum has also been involved in efforts like towing the sperm whale that died off the coast of Venice in March and removing deceased dolphins and manatees after red tide, which he says he did as a community service for free.

His business works closely with the Venice Police Department, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, West Coast Inland Navigation District, Mote Marine and other agencies to address situations on the water, and they need a space to gather, he explains.

The new headquarters will also provide a location for maintenance.

When his boats need maintenance right now, Marcum has to go somewhere industrial and work outside, he says. At the new building, the boats “will be inside the building out of sight” if they come in for maintenance, Marcum says, addressing a resident who asked about boats being visible, during the May 23 community meeting at the Venice Police Department.

Another element the headquarters will offer is storage space. Sea Tow performs environmental cleanups and keeps materials on hand that can soak up motor oil or diesel fuel in the event of a big oil or fuel spill. It also needs places to stow items used for salvage and recovery, Marcum says.

There is one thing Marcum is not expecting at the office: walk-in foot traffic.

“We sell memberships to boaters,” he says. Most of the time, members join over the phone or online. About three or four calls a year are from people who want to come into the office to sign up for memberships, he says. 

Otherwise, his business is dealing with boaters on the water. “As a result, we don’t expect any traffic in terms of the office,” he says. 

Big plans

Marcum’s plans call for two 5,000-square-foot buildings on a nearly 1-acre site, which is currently a vacant lot. 

The first building will be the Sea Tow Venice headquarters, set back from the U.S. 41 Bypass along Pineland Avenue. It will include offices, warehouse space and storage for Sea Tow. The office area will feature a mezzanine, Project Manager Jen Smith of Wessel Construction says.

Fronting the U.S. 41 Bypass, the second building will include tenant spaces for lease. It will probably be an office/professional-type or possibly a medical building, Smith tells the 10 or so people at a community meeting about the construction project.

While it is not required to do so since it is outside the Venice architectural review district boundaries, the building facing the U.S. 41 Bypass will feature a look similar to other buildings in the city, according to Smith, who says it will “keep the city going along 41” with a terracotta roof and sunny colors. “We hope to beautify the area and not just put another hodgepodge” building there, Smith says.

A fence will also be installed to separate the commercial buildings owned by Sea Tow from the residential areas that are around the property, Smith says.

Groundbreaking is expected in the fourth quarter of 2024, according to Smith. It could take six or nine months to construct the two buildings, Smith says, adding she does not want to make any guarantees.

The owner says he is looking forward to the project progressing.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Marcum tells the Business Observer after the community meeting. He has owned the property for three years and started the process to get construction going two and a half years ago.

He hit roadblocks when his original builder retired and then his surveyor sold that business while work for Marcum was in progress. It took almost a year for him to get his property surveyed, which he says was “the most frustrating part” of the process. 

Says Marcum: “We’re really ready to put it into high gear.”



Elizabeth King

Elizabeth is a business news reporter with the Business Observer, covering primarily Sarasota-Bradenton, in addition to other parts of the region. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, she previously covered hyperlocal news in Maryland for Patch for 12 years. Now she lives in Sarasota County.

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