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TowBoatU.S. announces expansion, new owner

TowBoatU.S. expanded with a new location on Lake Wylie, N.C., and announced a new owner for TowBoatU.S. Lake Lanier in Georgia.

TowBoatU.S. Lake Wylie is run by local entrepreneurs Steve Branum and Jeremy Thompson, who opened their first TowBoatU.S. location three years ago on Lake Norman. Branum says the new home construction ringing Lake Wylie is bringing more boaters.

"We want to be here to help them get back home safely," he said in a statement. "With no channel markers and frequent fog, it's easy to get into trouble if you are not familiar."

Capt. Kevin Scott, a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain, is the new port's manager of operations. Stationed at the port is a 22-foot center console response boat loaded with a full complement of towing and salvage equipment.

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TowBoatU.S. Lake Lanier was recently purchased by Capt. Robert Estrada, a managing partner who bought the business from his former employer, Capt. Barkley Geib. Geib also owns Waterfront Lanier Harbor Marina in Buford, Ga.

Estrada was first named general manager of the marina in 1993, and was also a towing captain when the facility began offering a BoatU.S.-affiliated on-the-water towing service to boaters in 1994. By 2005, the business had grown into a full time, 24-hour operation, officially becoming TowBoatU.S Lake Lanier. Stationed at the port are three, 24-foot Privateer response boats. Each boat features state-of-the-art towing and salvage equipment.

While lake water levels have rebounded from last year's drought conditions, Estrada says boaters continue to have issues with underwater obstructions.

"Now that the water is back up, it's like exploring a new lake all over again, which can lead to an accidental grounding or prop damage," he said in a statement.

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