The Great Lakes Group


“There is absolutely no substitute for experience.”

As the employee with the most years of service at The Great Lakes Towing Company, Duluth-based Tug Captain, Dean Olson, understands how to achieve success on behalf of customers, even in the most challenging of conditions.

“It’s about teamwork. Working in harsh winter conditions where there is extreme ice breaking needed is probably the most challenging thing about this job. It takes a lot of time and hard work to break through ice. It requires an experienced crew and a lot of hard work.”

Last winter presented The Towing Company with extreme conditions on the Great Lakes. The work was intense, demanding and constant. But, according to Olson, also extremely fulfilling: “It’s rewarding to help boats go where they need to go, to see how hard these tugs work and to be a part of it.”


Olson began his maritime career in 1972. “I didn’t know the bow from the stern. But, I learned quickly – everyone was willing to help you out, to teach you,” he says. Everyone, including his father who also worked for The Towing Company. “It was a good thing to work with my father. He had a lot of patience with me,” Dean chuckles.

Around that time he was primarily working as part of the crew on Tug ARKANSAS. For the first time in over 40 years he will return to Tug ARKANSAS this winter. The Towing Company’s extensive fleet overhaul program, completed this summer, included upgrades to Tugs ARKANSAS and INDIANA.

When asked if The Towing Company is ready for this winter’s conditions he states: “We are definitely prepared for another bad winter, should that happen.” As for what makes The Towing Company the best in class: “Throughout the company’s long-standing history we have offered a level of professionalism that is greater than that of competitors. We have many full-time crew members, which means consistency along with 24/7 support for customers.”


The Towing company has a long-standing relationship with the Port of Duluth as well as with its community. Its experience towing vessels in this area is unparalleled. And when winter comes on the Great Lakes, as Olson says, “There’s absolutely no substitute for experience.”

Utilizing a Full-Service Lakes-Wide Towing Contract with the Towing Company provides added insurance. It’s an added level of safety and seamanship to protect your crew, equipment, and the environment; wherever your vessel may call on the Great Lakes.