This has been an emotional day, yes due to the 15th anniversary of 9/11 but also for the loss of a good customer and friend.
Today we said goodbye to Tim George, otherwise known at Captain T. He lost his battle with cancer on Friday and it has taken me aback just a little. My heart is breaking for his wife, Jeannette and their kids and other family members because Tim had a very big heart. And no matter what came at him, he seemed to roll with it. Tim had a lot of faith in the Lord and you could see that.
I first met Tim during a Farragut Chamber Coffee event about 14 years ago; he owned Balloonworld. A business that not only did balloons for kid’s parties but also the really big ones for car dealers and big box stores for special events. We only talked once during that meeting but I took his business card and we shook hands.
Fast forward to March of 2012, I had just started working at West Marine when I met Tim again. We never put together when we had first met, that took several years. He owned Captain T’s Boat Repair and was one of the first wholesale clients I got to work with. It was great to see his business grow and more importantly to hear from his customers about his work ethic. At that point I knew Captain T’s would have to be one of our first providers on Nautical Workz.
When we launched Nautical Workz Tim was one of our first three providers. He was very skeptical on it’s worth but signed up and offered advice on the business and some ideas to help promote, etc. He was good at offering advice. Our friendship grew and so did our business relationship. We would often talk about boats, what to do with them, products that worked or didn’t and most of all how to save money, not only for him but for the customers. He loved to beat me up on gear lube pricing.
One of my customers had a problem with his son’s boat. It was winterized, but they were concerned it wasn’t done right. They contacted Nautical Workz on a Friday afternoon. It was going to get below freezing on Sunday night and didn’t want the block to freeze again. I recommended Captain T’s. Bill called, and Tim said he could come out Saturday morning. Bill told me after this meeting that he expected to pay out the nose for a Saturday at-home service. When Tim showed up with his big dually truck Bill said to himself, "Well here it comes".
Tim checked the boat over and indeed the boat was winterized correctly. But did a few extra things to make sure the customer was secure in the fact the boat was going to be ok. As Bill and Tim walked back up from the dock, Bill asked, "So whats the damage?" Tim smiled and said, "Well you’re a NW member so how’s forty dollars sound?" They also stood around and talked for half an hour. As Bill was telling me this story it just proved what a guy Tim was. He loved his customers, and yes wanted to make money, but setting their mind at ease regarding their boat was his true motivation.
Tim had called me in January and said he had an idea and wanted me to help launch a new part of his business. We talked about it and made plans to meet soon for planning. In fact he called me one morning in late January to set up our appointment and he said he’d call me the next day to confirm. I didn’t hear from him and called and left a message. When I still didn’t hear from him, I went down to his shop to find it closed. Finally, in mid February he called me and said something had happened and he’d been in the hospital. That’s when he told me why. We talked for twenty minutes or so and I had this strange feeling that he may not make it. It was the same feeling I had when I found out my father had cancer.
About two months after that conversation he called and said come to Gary’s Performance Marine and talk about the business plan. I met him the next day and within minutes Gary was a provider! We started working on the original idea - a boater's store in Lenoir City; one that delivered.
We met a few more times right after that but Tim’s health took a turn for the worse. The last meeting we had we took a ride and looked at a go-fast boat with Gary and then went back to the shop. Gary went inside and Tim and I stood next to his big dually and talked. We talked about business then turned to God and the plans He had for us. I only wish I had known it was the last time we would talk face to face.
The Knoxville boating world lost a great on Friday. And I lost not only a customer but a very dear friend. I pray for healing for his family. And even though I’m sad at his passing I can see him sitting by the Lord and asking, "So you’re a fisherman, what kind of boat do you own?"