PTL Marine President David Reynolds addresses those gathered to celebrate the 50th birthday of the company’s Memphis facility on October 18 at the store on the banks of the Mississippi River. (photos by Shelley Byrne)
Company News

PTL Marine Celebrates 50th Birthday Of Memphis Location

PTL Marine’s Memphis location has been doing business nonstop – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – for a half century.

In noting the 50-year milestone during a celebration October 18, Memphis operations manager Travis London said the doors literally have never been closed and locked, to the point that after 27 years total, the last 20 years full-time at the location, he would still have no idea where to find a key for the front door.

Another mark of that consistency, PTL Marine President David Reynolds said, is the company’s focus all those years on its customers and meeting their needs, from fueling to fresh groceries, supplies and crew changes.

“It’s all about putting the customer first,” Reynolds said. “That’s why we’ve been open 24/7/365. It’s the commitment of our people to put the needs of our customers and the industry at the forefront.”

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London, who started work at the facility when he was 15, said PTL Marine delivers whatever mariners need, not only to do their jobs but also to feel more at home and to be able to connect with their families. That has included birthday cakes, cards, gifts and new cell phones, when needed.

The Memphis location has 21 total employees, including 15 on the fuel crew, which London described as likely one of the busiest fuel terminals north of Baton Rouge, La.

Company History

SCI Chaplain Associate Garrett Brown gives an invocation, blessing employees and their work.
SCI Chaplain Associate Garrett Brown gives an invocation, blessing employees and their work.

PTL Marine was founded in 1936 in Wood River, Ill., as Economy Boat Store by Delos Colborn and Floyd Schilling. Reynolds paid tribute to both the Memphis facility’s and the company’s history during a short speech at the celebration, which preceded a catered barbecue lunch for employees and guests.

Colborn and Schilling are credited with inventing the concept of mid-stream refueling. In 1971, after operating the business for nearly 35 years, the two founders sold it to a group compiled by Dick Scheffel. The new ownership’s first acquisition, in 1973, was the Memphis store, still at the exact same location and in the same building today. Other locations followed, including in Wickliffe, Ky., Baton Rouge, St. Louis and Mobile, Ala.

After 44 more years and another slight ownership change, the Barton family sold the company to Pilot Thomas Logistics out of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, meaning that operations on the West Coast from Seattle to Long Beach were now also part of the family, with team members stretching into nine states. The business rebranded as PTL Marine in 2021.

“As one company, we are very proud to have roots that are 87 years old, and like any family, we look forward to recognizing the birthdays within our members,” Reynolds said. “Today, we celebrate the 50th birthday of our Memphis operation, and we recognize all those who go to work here each and every day and anyone who called this workplace their home since 1973.”

As PTL Marine places significant value on the length of service of its team members, Reynolds wanted to highlight a few by name. They included Jim Barton, who had the vision to bring Memphis into the Economy Boat Store family in 1973.

“It’s clear by our celebration today that his vision has been realized,” he said.

He also recognized Jody Davenport, who started with the company in Wood River, Ill., in 1967 and continued his service, amassing a 51-year career and retiring as general manager of the Memphis and Wickliffe operations in 2018.

Steve Dumay started working with the company in 1969 and retired as operations manager after a 49-year career. Mike McCaskill, who retired in Memphis as EHS manager in 2021 after a 35-year career, had several roles, including serving as operations manager of the company’s Baton Rouge location for eight years.

Finally, he said, Steve London, who retired recently after a 30-year career, is the father of current operations manager, Travis London, “and this brings us full circle to today.”

Reynolds also recognized team members with notable anniversaries who are serving on the current team: Mike Brown, 28 years; Joyce Dempster, 21; Travis London, 20; Andrew Radcliff, 20; Sammy Farley, 18; Blake Bagwell, 15; and Danny Furniss, 15;, along with the company’s newest associate, Alex Lawton, who joined the company in September as a deckhand.

Reynolds said the business is a testament to the men and women who work, not only for PTL Marine but also up and down the waterways on their customers’ vessels “supporting the maritime industry, a backbone of the American economy.”

He concluded, “Fifty years is an amazing achievement, and congratulations to all who call this Memphis operation their home away from home. Thank you.”