Trendsetters: Marine Industries
Debra Frenkel and John Weller
In the last year, from Palm Beach, Broward and Collier counties, south Florida-based Freedom Waters Foundation has provided fishing, sailing and yachting trips for 1,500 at-risk youths and for children and adults with disabilities or cancer, says Debra Frenkel, 45, who co-founded the organization last year with yacht broker John Weller, 62, of Allied Richard Bertram Marine Group. “It’s been an exceptionally wonderful year,” says executive director Frenkel, “to the point I’m in my car and burst into tears in total amazement and joy.”
A Boatload of Business
The turning point for Bob Toney’s business came with its first government contract just over a decade ago. Until then, Toney’s National Liquidators had existed by repossessing and selling boats for bank clients. It handled about 50 boats at a time. The government contract, with the U.S. Department of Justice, boosted the number to 80. The increase also provided a boost in credibility that led to more government agencies and more banks. It now typically has 250 boats in inventory, with as many as 400 in May, which are handled from its Fort Lauderdale headquarters and sites in Cleveland and California.
Bob Toney"Business is really up on the repossession side"
— Bob Toney
MariTech Services, President,
Toney, 52, a native Floridian, bought National Liquidators in 1993 after a career in banking, including boat lending for CenTrust before federal regulators seized it in 1990. He went to work for the thrift bailout agency, the Resolution Trust Corp., disposing of vessels and became acquainted with National Liquidators.
The company sends a truck, trailer and captain to take boats when the debtor’s not there, pays off the accrued dock fees — he says he has 1.4 million in American Express points as a result — and moves the boat. He gets a flat fee on small boats and a commission on large ones. The record was a 900-foot tanker. Pleasure craft are his bread and butter. “We don’t want any cowboys. We want professionals that avoid trouble and treat the debtor with respect.”