Nicole Burke started the “Voice of Uniondale” broadcasts for WRHU, Radio Hofstra, on Wednesdays at 5 p.m., to tell the world about the great people in her home hamlet. One of her recent interviewees was Uniondale business owner Frankel Mathurin.
Mathurin, 41, started Frankie’s Elite Towing three years ago. But arriving at the point of starting it, and sustaining it since then, has been a process of gaining and combining a wide spectrum of skills.
Mathurin and his three brothers, Ralph, Clark, and Gene, grew up in Hempstead. Frankel, known as Frankie, discovered his own passion for cars from working with his father Jean, who, said Frankie, “was a janitor by day and a body mechanic by trade. He did major mechanic and body work and was very successful at it.”
But when Frankie was 12, his father died of a heart attack. When he was 15, his 18-year-old brother died in an auto accident.
Mathurin credits his mother Denise, a nurse, and school personnel like Olga Brown-Young with keeping him on an even keel.
“I was on the first step team that Ms. Olga Young put together,” said Mathurin. “She is one of the reasons I made it out of middle school.”
When Mathurin was 20 years old, his son, Frankel Mathurin, Jr., was born. Mathurin obtained his commercial driver’s license, fitting him to drive heavy vehicles and transport hazardous materials. While employed by Winters Brothers, a waste management company, he also worked for Gemma’s Towing in Uniondale.
“It was something that I knew I wanted to do,” Mathurin said.
He sold a 1979 Pontiac Trans-Am that he had brought back to life and bought his first tow truck. He later added a flatbed truck.
“I would come home from Winters around 3 or 4 o’clock p.m.,” Mathurin said, “and then work at towing until 9 o’clock just to get my truck seen.”
Meanwhile, he married Shaquanna James, who has her own hair salon business, Reflections of Lady Red. James encouraged Mathurin to take the huge step of leaving Winters to start Frankie’s Elite Transport, completely on his own, in August of 2020.
“The pandemic is what solidified my business,” Mathurin said. “Junk cars were at their height because people were cleaning out. Battery jumps, tire changes, a lot of breakdowns.”
James’ and Mathurin’s daughter, Callie Grace, was born soon after. Frankel Jr. finished high school, but Mathurin did not employ him as a driver, deciding to let him first find his own way, and to understand the experience of being an employee.
“I want him to know that employees have feelings, so he won’t one day be a boss that’s just a yeller,” said Mathurin. “Once he gets tired of working for other people, he knows, ‘I have two trucks with my name on them.’”
Frankie Jr. works in construction at John F. Kennedy International Airport. And Mathurin rises early each day to face the tough, fascinating work he signed up for.
“It’s gritty, it’s grueling,” said Mathurin. “These rainstorms that we just went through? Who was out in that? Me!”
A towing business deals with maintenance of its own trucks, insurance, paying for safe parking of two commercial vehicles overnight, and of course, the constant search for clients.
“But to be honest, I love it!” said Mathurin.
He also is taking steps to open a full-fledged automotive rim shop to his towing firm.
“I’m 41,” said Mathurin. “By the time I’m 50, I’m going to open up my shop. And I’ll keep becoming a bigger tow company.”
The business’s Instagram handle is @Frankieselitetransport, and its email is email@example.com.