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P & L Towing’s Owner Heidi Payne Tells Her Story

Posted on November 3, 2021

A DredgeWire Exclusive

By Heidi Payne

I was honored and humbled that DredgeWire reached out to me to tell something about my personal journey.

Captain Beau Payne founded P & L Towing and Transportation, Inc. in 1993. When Capt. Beau passed away suddenly in 2017, his children were only 16 and 19 years old. Although I had the benefit of some rudimentary knowledge of the industry, and I was around the business all those years, I was only tangentially involved in the day to day as I had my own career as a criminal defense attorney.

Needless to say, there was A LOT to learn when I suddenly found myself at the helm of P & L Towing!  With immense help from John Tomlinson, our VP and Commercial Director, we have been able to thrive nonetheless despite our rocky beginnings.

When DredgeWire asked me what was my biggest challenge, and my biggest accomplishment, this made me reflect.

I would have to say that my single biggest challenge in taking over P & L has been filling Beau’s shoes as they were very big shoes to fill.  He had the utmost respect of his employees and literally everyone he ever worked with or for. Coming in without the benefit of experience in either business in general, or THIS business in particular, and on top of that being a woman in an historically “male dominated” industry,  garnering respect as the new “boss” has been extremely challenging.  I’m most proud of the fact that, for the most part, I think I have accomplished this.  I try to treat our employees with the utmost respect and attempt to accommodate their schedules and their needs whenever appropriate. Importantly I think that this respect has been reciprocated as I feel that I have earned their respect as well.

DredgeWire asked me about our relationship with Cottrell Contracting.

We began our relationship with Cottrell Dredging in December of 2019– a time when P & L needed the work badly as we were struggling to “re-define” ourselves.   From that first phone call with Jimmy Cottrell, I could tell this was going to be a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship.

We gave them our Tug Rikki S., and they’ve had her on their jobs ever since.  The Tug Rikki S. is an extraordinary boat, mostly due to the extraordinary crew.  The crew on that tug are our longest standing employees and have been working together for many years.  They are like a well-oiled machine and never fail to get the job done under the leadership of Capt. Timmy Parker.  He is an outstanding Captain, not only in his boat handling skills, but in all aspects of the job.  He is humble man with superior leadership skills.  To be trained by Capt. Timmy is to be trained by the best. Those who respect him and have the requisite motivation will benefit greatly, and have a successful career in the maritime industry.

DredgeWire solicited Cottrell’s comments about P & L Towing from Devon Carlock, Vice President of Safety & Government Relations, who said:
Over its 90-year history, Cottrell Contracting has performed dredging projects along the eastern seaboard and Florida’s gulf coast. Investing in its diverse workforce and the modernization of its dredging fleet, Cottrell has become respected leader in the dredging industry. Part of being successful is choosing a quality team to assist in accomplishing our projects.  We have partnered with P & L Towing for our towing needs.

Carlock concluded by saying:
For fueling, towing, and assisting with daily dredging operations, P & L’s team executes and adapts quickly to accommodate our operation. Safety and clear communication are the cornerstones of Cottrell’s dredging operation. P & L embraces both cultures helping us succeed on every project.

DredgeWire thanks both Heidi Payne and Cottrell for their input on this wonderful success story.

Rikki crew on the tug




Capt Beau


Rikki and Oliver on the Rikki S (much younger – they are 23 and 19 now)


Heidi, Beau and kids

Tug Rikki outbound James River Va with Cottrell Dredge “Richmond”

Tug Rikki, northbound Southern branch Elizabeth River Va. with Pipe Tow

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