CUTLINE: Riverview Boat Store recently purchased the mv. Cajun Pride and is renaming it Mrs. P. (Photo courtesy of Riverview Boat Store)
February 13, 2017
BY H. NELSON SPENCER
When he was 5 years old, Jeremy Putnam, the owner of Riverview Boat Store, stood on milk crates so that he could see over the dash of the boat he was running. Now, the milk crates make up part of the goods he and his staff deliver regularly to boats on the Upper Mississippi River.
In addition to delivering groceries and supplies, which the company does from its Bellevue, Iowa, location at Mile 557, Riverview provides tug assistance at Locks 4, 8 and 12. And, to help with that part of the business, Putnam recently accepted his second towboat in months.
The newly-acquired boat is the Cajun Pride, which Riverview bought from Lafourche Marine Towing Inc., Cut Off, La., on January 9. Putnam said he is renaming the boat the mv. Mrs. P, after his wife, Julie, who does all the bookkeeping for the company. The boat, built in 1979 by Mississippi Marine Towboat Corporation, measures 60 feet by 20 feet and is powered by a pair of Cummins KTA19 diesel engines that were installed in 2015.
The other recent acquisition is the mv. Capt. Terry, a 55-foot, 900 hp. towboat Riverview purchased from Midwest Foundation Corporation late last year. The mv. River Rat, a third towboat, and the one the company started out with, rounds out the fleet along with three custom aluminum crew boats used in the delivery service. The River Rat works Lock 12, the Capt. Terry works Lock 8 and the Mrs. P will work Lock 4, Putnam said, after it comes off drydock, where it is undergoing repairs to its wheels and rudders.
Putnam, who grew up on the river and is a fourth-generation riverman, said, “My dad took me to work on the tugs as far back as I can remember.” Besides standing on milk crates, he remembers getting to make a lock when he was 8 or 9. His late father, Capt. Terry, started Riverview Boat Store in 1998, after a career working for Marquette Transportation, American Boat Company and Western Rivers Boat Management, said Putnam, who bought the company in 2004.
Before purchasing Riverview, Putnam worked for Upper River Services in St. Paul, Minn., and got his pilot’s license in 1999. His father died in 2013, followed a year later by his brother, who also worked for the company doing maintenance and deck work. “I lost both of my closest river family in just over a year,” Putnam said, “but still have an uncle and another brother on the river.” His uncle owned Putnam Tankerman Service and his brother is a deckhand for Lawson Marine in Sabula, Iowa.”
Riverview Boat Store started with 450 square feet of storage space and now has over 12,000 square feet, said Putnam, which includes 1,000 square feet of freezer space and about 600 square feet of cooler space. “We stock a full grocery line,” he said.
The company delivers not only to the towing industry, but now also supplies the dredge Potter and the dredge Goetz. “We follow the dredges wherever they go. We had deliveries in Cairo and near St. Paul last year,” he said, adding, “We traveled 160,000 miles in 2016.” He said they can fit up to four chest freezers in their crew boats and power them with a generator for long trips.
Riverview currently employs 12 full-time and eight regular-time employees, he said, and will be adding four more full-time employees in the spring.