The Week's Features
“Fuzzy” gets his “independence” again on July 4th
Connecticut tow company closes its doors after 41 years
Platt’s Garage displays vintage winners and turns 100!
All-new X-Series Dolly offer hubs that never need grease
Stop-and-start recovery takes three days to complete
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Hotel Deadline for Tow Expo-Dallas is July 12

The Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, the headquarters hotel for TowExpo-Dallas, is nearing sellout at the group rate. The discount deadline is this Friday, July 12.

Room availability also exists at the Embassy Suites by Hilton DFW Airport North. The Embassy Suites provides easy access to Grapevine, Dallas, and Fort Worth attractions and entertainment. The all-suite Grapevine hotel is two miles from DFW International Airport and close to Highways 635, 114 and 121 and is conveniently attached to Bass Pro Shops.

All Embassy Suites rooms boasts of 24-hour transport to and from DFW Airport; free made-to-order breakfast; a fitness center and pool; and on-site dining. Its new Hallford's Restaurant & Bar offers modern American cuisine in a refined yet casual setting, open for lunch and dinner.

TowExpo-Dallas, August 15-18, is held inside the fully air-conditioned Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center. Register before the July 12 deadline at events.american-tradeshow.com.

Source: AT staff.
We have a Rollaway! How to Spot a Wrecker in Trouble: With AT Operations Editor Randy Resch

Policing Ourselves

police 5923aBy Brian J. Riker

A recurring theme I hear and observe often in towing-focused social media is the industry’s desire to be accepted as professionals. This is often combined with a strong desire to remain mostly unregulated, as we are now. Both are great goals, although impossible to achieve unless we as an industry step up and “police ourselves.”

Recently I read more than a dozen threads where a tower was positing a picture of a questionable and often unsafe practice, and the consensus was “well, I did what I had to do” or “I got it done.”

While I admire the problem-solving spirit of the American towman, we must work within the design limits of our equipment regardless of circumstance. The on-scene police officer who told you to “just get it out of here” isn’t the one that will be going to jail when something fails and someone dies.

With the lack of uniform operating procedures among towers across the nation, we will not be accepted as professionals, worthy of the respect and privilege that comes with being a primary responder, until we can agree on a set of basic standards.

This simply does not happen with other professional industries. Sure, there are always companies that refuse to comply; but by and large most within a given industry do things the same way.

For example, the scrap-recycling industry has a set of voluntary standards that the majority of recyclers comply with regarding how to process specific materials, how to setup a yard for safety and even how to ship materials to the end user. Uniformity is why a front clip (fenders/grill/hood for collision repair) is cut the same way regardless of what salvage yard you order it from.

We as towers need to stand up and call out the bad actors doing unsafe or unethical things. This must be done in a compassionate way and in the spirit of education. Absent this industry education, we will have regulation forced upon us. It is happening already in the towing industry and the mainstream trucking world.

Take speeding as an example. There has been a longtime push for speed limiters on all commercial vehicles nationwide, set to 65 mph. This will affect towers, as we are commercial vehicles and most tow trucks are heavy enough to be included in this legislation.

This push has just been revived in Congress, after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had decided speed limiters are dangerous (which they are). The public safety advocates, mostly misinformed about large truck speed and how it relates to crashes, have used their influence in Congress to bypass the agency charged with truck safety to impose their will on the industry.

Our industry is also fighting price regulation being imposed by the insurance industry, unjust and unwarranted consumer protection regulations proposed by trucking associations and even local law enforcement regulations designed to interfere with free enterprise.

If the towing industry continues infighting over the simple things, such as proper light usage, tie-downs and whether a vehicle should be loaded front- or rear-facing on a carrier deck, we will never be able to find common ground or be taken seriously on the larger issues that have the potential to put thousands or towers out of business.

There has been a recent attack on trade associations within the towing industry. I am not judging or taking sides; I know many of the people involved and have respect for all of them. I believe this has come to fruition out of frustration over a changing business climate that many feel powerless to combat.

This is exactly the feeling our adversaries want us to have.

This tells me that now more than ever it is time we unite and rise up together to build a strong future for the professional tower!

Bottom line: Together we can make a difference. However, we need to take that first step towards improving the industry by listening and learning; not rudely cutting each other down because we have a difference of opinion. Small or large, we are all towers and in this together.

Brian J Riker is a third generation towman and President of Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC. He specializes in helping non-traditional fleets such as towing, repossession, and construction companies navigate the complex world of Federal and State transportation regulatory compliance. With 25 years of experience in the ditch as a tow operator Brian truly understands the unique needs and challenges faced by towing companies today. He can be reached at brian.riker@fleetcompliancesolutions.net

As Above, So Below

In the past year, nothing has been more important to me than my spiritual life. It is the one thing that has kept me on-point as I have gone through the most challenging 12 months of my life.

When one is facing challenges—be it professional, personal, health or anything else—maintaining a connection with one’s Supreme Being can make so much of a difference.

With me, it has brought calm and focus on what is truly important in life. It has allowed me to walk forth into what many of my friends term as the “new normal,” navigating the next phase in my life while being respectful and paying homage to the former phase.

I would submit to the tow business owner—one who faces daunting challenges on a daily basis—you may want to consider closing your office door each day, even if only for a minute, and offer up a word of gratefulness for where you are today. Do this regardless of what is immediately in front of you; I assure you it will help as you continue to navigate your way.

--Charles Duke

Environmental Chemical Solutions

ECS cda24The growing responsibilities of the towing industry as first responders include the cleaning and disposal of liquid debris from vehicle operating fluids. This requirement is a billable action covered under liability insurance. Environmental Chemical Solution’s (ECS) TC program addresses all facets of training, cleanup, disposal and billing for the towing and wrecker industry. Come see what ECS has to offer at Tow Expo-Dallas taking place August 15-18 at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas.

ecschem.com
By Don Lomax
Click to enlarge
The 2017 Tax Cuts Act has helped my business
a lot
more better than not
marginally
not at all
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Editor: Charles Duke
Managing Editor: Brendan Dooley
ATTV Editor & Anchor: Emily Oz
Advertising Sales (800-732-3869):
Dennie Ortiz x213, Ellen Rosengart x203,
William Burwell x208, Peggy Calabrese x202
Content Management: Henri Calitri
Site Progr., Graphics & Video: Ryan Oser
ATTV Technical Production: OMG National
Wrecks + Recovery Editor: Jim "Buck" Sorrenti
Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
Tow Business Editor: Brian J. Riker
Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti
American Towman Wire • 07-17-2019
An Amtrak train collided with a tow truck attempting to recover a car stuck on the tracks near Charlotte, North Carolina. No one was hurt. Image - thedrive.com.

Amtrak Train Collides with Tow Truck

Amtrak passengers and police are asking questions after one of the company’s trains collided with a tow truck in Charlotte, North Carolina. The truck was reportedly attempting to pull a stranded car off the tracks when the accident happened. Thankfully no one was hurt, but the consequences could have been much worse. The Amtrak train was carrying 193 passengers when it hit the recovery vehicle. Amtrak Train 20 was heading from New Orleans to New York and hit the rig at 3:27 a.m., according to company officials. According to passengers on the train, there were officers already on-site with the stranded vehicle when the accident occurred. One passenger told a local news broadcast that he saw blue lights ahead, but the train did not slow. The sequence of events is under review by police. Source: thedrive.com.

‘Smelly but good’

A hot and humid morning commute took a turn for the worse when a trash truck toppled, spilling garbage on a section of Route 61 in Ontelaunee Township, Pennsylvania. Towman Vince James with V&M Towing said he approached it like he would any other accident. “Just survey the scene, see what I need, what kind of equipment I need,” James said. “Skid loader, containers and then just go do my thing.” He did his thing while keeping an eye out for any dangerous items. “Well, with garbage, you gotta be careful,” said James. “Any kinda contaminants. Who knows what’s in the garbage?” Despite the smelly situation, James said he and his crew still focused on efficiency. “Oh yeah, good cleanup,” James said. “Smelly, but good.” Source: wfmz.com.

Tow Company Agrees to Fence Enclosure

To settle a dispute with his neighbor, the owner of a Canton, New York, towing and auto repair business has agreed to install an 8’ high fence to enclose junk cars and trucks he stores in his backyard and along the side of his property. Code Enforcement Officer Jeffrey Murray said Erik D. Johnson, owner of Johnson Towing and Auto Repair, and his neighbor, Edward D. Petty, have both agreed to the fence as a solution. Murray told town board members recently he believes that Johnson’s car storage should be classified as an impound lot and not a junk yard because he doesn’t salvage parts from vehicles. He presented a written proposal to the board that he said was supported by Johnson and Petty. “This is what I think we should do. I mean we have to solve this problem with Erik and Ed and the junk cars. There are distinct differences between what Erik does and a junk yard,” he said. “This was the best agreement that I could come up with to solve this problem so that I could put it behind me and move on to the next one.” The proposal is scheduled to be reviewed by the town’s Planning Board before its finalized. Source: nny360.com.


Don't Miss It!
Standing tall within Google's search results takes know how and ongoing effort. In their seminar, “Get Found Online - Expert's Course,” Jared and the OMG Tow Marketing Team will take you through an overview of how it all works, and the latest techniques used by the country's most successful tow bosses. This seminar will be given at Tow Expo-Dallas, taking place at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, August 15-18 in Grapevine Texas. Register today! towexpodfw.com

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July 17 - July 23, 2019
Sofio “Fuzzy” Failla, 92, received a new wheelchair-accessible van from D&L Autobody and Towing in Berlin, Connecticut, on Independence Day. The World War II veteran became wheelchair-bound after a stroke in 2018. Image - wfsb.com.

Tow Company Donates [b]Van to WWII Veteran

Sofio “Fuzzy” Failla is a 92-year-old Navy veteran who suffered a stroke last year and has been bound to a wheelchair ever since. However, thanks to local groups in Berlin, Connecticut, Fuzzy gained his independence again on the Fourth of July.

D&L Autobody and Towing donated a wheelchair-accessible van to the veteran.

“It’s very appropriate that it’d fall on this day,” said family member Lynn Higgins. “He’ll be able to get around now and have some semblance of his old life back.”

Higgins mentioned that she and Fuzzy were stranded sometimes for an hour and a half to two hours, waiting for his wheelchair transport service to come pick him up from a doctor’s appointment.

Fuzzy, originally from Newington, served in World War II. Up until last year, he was active, playing racquetball, golfing and fishing. Last year, Fuzzy suffered a stroke, paralyzing the left side of his body. The tow company decided to give him a new set of wheels to pursue his life joys again.

“Definitely made my Fourth of July. Better than any picnic for sure,” said John Meucci of D&L Autobody and Towing.

Source: wfsb.com.

Towman Killed In Crash [b]in Fort Worth

A tower was killed after being struck by his tow truck the morning of July 8 on I-35W in Fort Worth, Texas. According to police, officers responded shortly after 3 a.m. to the southbound lanes of I-35W at Highway 170. 

The towman pulled over to the service road and tried to secure a vehicle that he was towing from a nearby apartment complex. The tow truck started moving and hit the driver. The towman was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said they are continuing to investigate. 

Source: wfaa.com.

County Sheriff Sued Over [b]Alleged Favoritism

A Mid-Michigan towing company is suing the Shiawassee County sheriff, claiming he unfairly favors a competitor that's owned by his friend.

Lepley & Sons Towing, located in Owosso, filed the lawsuit last month.

Owners say Sheriff Brian Begole was calling All-Star Towing more often than other companies in the county. According to court documents, between January and November of last year, All-Star Towing received 168 calls from the sheriff's office while Lepley & Sons received 46 calls.

The company is seeking at least $25,000 in damages.

Source: abc12.com.

Stertil-Koni Donates to Bailey’s Café

Heavy-duty truck and bus lift manufacturer Stertil-Koni continued its support of Brooklyn, New York-based non-profit organization Bailey’s Café with an additional $10,000 donation. The funds are targeted to provide a collaborative creative summer program for its members from neighborhoods across New York City.

Bailey's Café founder and director, Stefanie Siegel, notes: "For the past few years, Stertil-Koni's contributions have been invaluable to sustaining our thriving summer program. We have made some great enhancements to this year's offering that will make it even more of a success." 

Dr. Jean DellAmore, president of Stertil-Koni, added, "Stertil-Koni is proud to join Bailey's Café in its journey of developing artistic talent and inspiring change through the arts. Its mission to create an atmosphere of collective awareness, respect, and responsibility, built on the talents and resources of the community, is fundamental to creating a better place for all to thrive."

Source: stertil-koni.com.

Padgett & Sons Closes Up Shop

After more than 41 years in business, Padgett & Sons of New London, Connecticut, has taken its trucks off the road and is closing shop. The company has been one of four on the New London Police Department's towing rotation, and it has served New London, Waterford, Groton, Mystic and Stonington as a AAA contractor, along with towing as far as New York and Boston.

"It's tougher and tougher to get good employees," said owner Jimmie Padgett Jr. "I love the customers, but it's just getting tougher and tougher. The business climate just wasn't what it was. I'm tired myself. I've had enough."

He said the company ceased towing operations on June 24 and is now winding down the repair shop. Padgett, 59, said he's not sure what he wants to do next, but he doesn't envision himself retired.

Starting Aug. 1, he said, the building will be rented to "a couple of younger guys" that Padgett believes will also be doing repair and towing. Of the 11 trucks in Padgett & Sons' possession, some owned and some leased, Padgett said he has most of them lined up to be sold.

Source: theday.com.

Fourth Annual APTO [b]Summer Picnic, July 27

The Association of Professional Towers – Ohio will stage their fourth annual Summer Picnic on Saturday, July 27 at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Middleburg Heights, Ohio. Admission is free to attendees.

This year’s picnic includes WreckMaster Level 2/3 training, a gun raffle, and a Road Rally. The Road Rally will benefit the APTO Injured Driver Fund. Registration and more information about the picnic is available at the APTO website.

Source: APTO.
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American Towman Exposition Gallery
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July 17 - July 23, 2019

Grain Truck Stuck

0 10549by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

William “Bill” Josler founded Sabil & Sons in White River Junction, Vermont, in 1980; he’s now retired, but still hands-on. His wife and company VP, Sally, passed away earlier this year. Sons Doug (service manager) and Wayne (parts manager) are co-owners of the company and handle the day-to-day operations these days. Larry Fortier is the truck manager.

In the winter of 2016, Vermont State Police called the company to recover an overturned grain truck.

“A large, fully loaded tandem-axle bulk grain truck had attempted to make a delivery to a Vermont farm located at the top of a steep one-lane ice-covered road,” Fortier said. “The driver made it almost to the top of the hill before the truck started sliding backwards for a substantial distance, ending up off the road, over a steep embankment and into a small brook.”

Doug, Wayne, Wayne’s son Zach and operators Tim Keener and Travis Gault responded with their R-Model Mack with a Challenger 6802 35-ton, a Kenworth T800/Jerr-Dan 25-ton integrated tandem and a Kenworth T800/NRC 40-ton sliding rotator.

Once on scene, they surveyed the situation. This was a large, fully loaded bulk grain truck. The tandem-axle truck with pusher axle was heavily damaged and the crew proceeded to secure the area and organize a plan to remove the diesel fuel and grain.

“We used a crane,” Fortier said, “to provide access with a manlift to aid in accessing and removing the grain from the damaged body.”

The Sabil crew recruited a 23.5-ton Terex boom truck from Hutch Crane Service in Bradford.

After the fuel was removed from the dual diesel tanks, each of the individual tank compartments had to be cut open to facilitate removal of the grain. Wayne and a helper worked in the manlift to remove the grain from the body of the truck.

Once accomplished, they staged the necessary equipment to carry out the recovery plan for the removal of the badly damaged grain truck. They strapped the tank portion of the truck for lifting. The NRC rotator did the lifting while the 35-ton Challenger and the 25-ton Jerr-Dan winched from the front.

“There were numerous delays as the result of having to start and stop the recovery process,” Fortier said, “whenever there was a large truck that had to access the farm. Trucks would arrive to pick-up and remove milk and to deliver grain and other items as necessary.”

The recovery took three days and one overnight to complete due to various existing conditions. The recovered vehicle was towed to Sabil’s yard in White River Junction with the Jerr-Dan 25-ton integrated tandem.

(Editor’s Note: This article appeared in the July 19, 2017 edition of Tow Industry Week)

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!

B-Train Derailed in New Zealand

0 b97f6By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

BTRi (Bus Truck Recovery International), located in Christchurch, New Zealand, has been in operation since 2003. 

Over the past decade since they took over the business, co-owners Nigel Hope and Ray Holley have built up Bus Truck Recovery’s capabilities.

In June 2019 BTR were called to recover a rolled over B-train. In the trucking industry a B-train consists of two trailers linked together by a fifth wheel, and are up to 92-feet long. The fifth wheel coupling is located at the rear of the lead, or first, trailer and is mounted on a "tail" section commonly located immediately above the lead trailer axles. In North America this area of the lead trailer is often referred to as the "bridge.”

The twin-trailer assembly is hooked up to a tractor unit via the tractor unit's fifth wheel in the customary manner. 

“We received a call at 2 a.m.,” Hope informed, “for a loaded B-train, which had gone over a bank near one of the alpine passes approx. 2.5 hours drive away from our depot. The caller had sketchy details, but it was no point going until daylight as it was off the road and temperature was down to -1 -degree C (30-degrees Fahrenheit)."

BTR responded the next morning with their Kenworth 10x4 with a Century 7035 and Kenworth 10x4 with a Vulcan V-70. Two hours later, they called for their Argosy 8x4 with an NRC Quickswap. 

It seems that the tractor unit was doing over 55 mph around a 40 mph corner, left the road and dropped over 30 feet onto farmland below with its load of timber in the curtain sider. The driver wasn’t wearing his seat belt and got tossed around the cab as it barrel-rolled down the bank. He received broken ribs, facial lacerations, bruised kidneys--and a helicopter ride.

On arrival the BTR crew found the tractor on its wheels and the sliding turntable ripped off the chassis and still attached to the trailer kingpin. Entry to the downhill paddock was by steep grassy track which the recovery units slid down in the frost around 8 a.m. 

"The remaining side of the turntable was gas cut off and the tractor winched backwards away from the front trailer. A rear tire and rim were removed and replaced on the front axle as it was damaged, the rear axle had been shunted forward on one side, so it was a rear tow to get it out," explained Hope. "Righting the trailers was the tricky bit as we had no room to winch them over due to the soggy pond just to the side of them.

“The timber,” he continued, “was hung up in the roof of the rear trailer and we gas cut it free; however pulling both trailers up despite releasing the timber did drag our trucks sideways in the now soft ground, the flat angle we had to work with did not help.

“Once upright and dragged away from the timber, we were able to tow them out to an adjacent paddock, turn round and tow them up the track back onto the road for splitting and towing home.”

As the sun had come out they were able to climb back up onto the roadway and tow the casualty to their depot with the NRC.

Hope concluded, “The following day we returned with our transporter, flat deck semi and JCB and restack the timber and tidy up the site. No road closure was necessary and we dealt to the whole job in-house, the trailers and truck however were all written off.”

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at  HYPERLINK "mailto:bdooley@towman.com" \t "_blank" jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!

Over the Guardrail in Mass.

0 5733bBy Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

John Martins started Sterry Street Towing in Attleboro, Massachusetts, with one tow truck in 1980 and incorporated in 1983. Along with that company, John was the owner and founder of East Coast Collision Center, Courtesy Auto Group and an owner of the Checker Club. He was known for his strong work ethic and generous giving.

John passed away in September 2015 due to complications from injuries he sustained in a trucking accident. His son Jamie Turmel took over the family business and continues with the same strong work ethic he learned from his dad.

On June 22, 2019, a box truck hits a guardrail and went down an embankment in Rehoboth, leaving two people trapped. The Rehoboth Police Department called Sterry Street Towing at 12:45 p.m. to handle the recovery. 

Jamie responded with their 2019 Chevy 2500 HD Diesel supervisor unit equipped with strobes, safety equipment and mobile communications. Operator Andrew White responded in a 2017 Peterbilt 389 twin-steer with a Century 1150R rotator. Operator Daniel Gonsalves responded with their 2018 Peterbilt 337 with a Miller 21.5’ flatbed. 

“When we arrived on scene,” Jamie said, “we noticed that the box truck had crashed through the guardrail and went down the embankment. The load of demo material the truck was carrying went through the front of the box truck ripping the cab off the truck and pinning the two occupants. [It took first responders] 25 minutes to free the driver and passenger from the wreck.”

The demo material was scattered all over and into the wetlands. The crew pulled the cab back onto the truck and chained it into place. They used chain and ran it through the wheels both front and back, made bridles and used two lines to pull the truck back to the roadway. 

“Once we had the truck back on the roadway, we cleaned up all demo material and debris and loaded it back into the box once we secured the load,” said Jamie. “We then loaded it onto our carrier and towed it back to our Attleboro location.” 

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
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City, State
RATES

Plantsville, CT
$88
(Pop. 10,387)

Beeville, TX
$175
(Pop. 13,290)

Lake Station, IN
$130
(Pop. 12,572)

Centralia, WA
$178
(Pop. 16,336)

Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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July 17 - July 23, 2019

Policing Ourselves

police 5923aBy Brian J. Riker

A recurring theme I hear and observe often in towing-focused social media is the industry’s desire to be accepted as professionals. This is often combined with a strong desire to remain mostly unregulated, as we are now. Both are great goals, although impossible to achieve unless we as an industry step up and “police ourselves.”

Recently I read more than a dozen threads where a tower was positing a picture of a questionable and often unsafe practice, and the consensus was “well, I did what I had to do” or “I got it done.”

While I admire the problem-solving spirit of the American towman, we must work within the design limits of our equipment regardless of circumstance. The on-scene police officer who told you to “just get it out of here” isn’t the one that will be going to jail when something fails and someone dies.

With the lack of uniform operating procedures among towers across the nation, we will not be accepted as professionals, worthy of the respect and privilege that comes with being a primary responder, until we can agree on a set of basic standards.

This simply does not happen with other professional industries. Sure, there are always companies that refuse to comply; but by and large most within a given industry do things the same way.

For example, the scrap-recycling industry has a set of voluntary standards that the majority of recyclers comply with regarding how to process specific materials, how to setup a yard for safety and even how to ship materials to the end user. Uniformity is why a front clip (fenders/grill/hood for collision repair) is cut the same way regardless of what salvage yard you order it from.

We as towers need to stand up and call out the bad actors doing unsafe or unethical things. This must be done in a compassionate way and in the spirit of education. Absent this industry education, we will have regulation forced upon us. It is happening already in the towing industry and the mainstream trucking world.

Take speeding as an example. There has been a longtime push for speed limiters on all commercial vehicles nationwide, set to 65 mph. This will affect towers, as we are commercial vehicles and most tow trucks are heavy enough to be included in this legislation.

This push has just been revived in Congress, after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had decided speed limiters are dangerous (which they are). The public safety advocates, mostly misinformed about large truck speed and how it relates to crashes, have used their influence in Congress to bypass the agency charged with truck safety to impose their will on the industry.

Our industry is also fighting price regulation being imposed by the insurance industry, unjust and unwarranted consumer protection regulations proposed by trucking associations and even local law enforcement regulations designed to interfere with free enterprise.

If the towing industry continues infighting over the simple things, such as proper light usage, tie-downs and whether a vehicle should be loaded front- or rear-facing on a carrier deck, we will never be able to find common ground or be taken seriously on the larger issues that have the potential to put thousands or towers out of business.

There has been a recent attack on trade associations within the towing industry. I am not judging or taking sides; I know many of the people involved and have respect for all of them. I believe this has come to fruition out of frustration over a changing business climate that many feel powerless to combat.

This is exactly the feeling our adversaries want us to have.

This tells me that now more than ever it is time we unite and rise up together to build a strong future for the professional tower!

Bottom line: Together we can make a difference. However, we need to take that first step towards improving the industry by listening and learning; not rudely cutting each other down because we have a difference of opinion. Small or large, we are all towers and in this together.

Brian J Riker is a third generation towman and President of Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC. He specializes in helping non-traditional fleets such as towing, repossession, and construction companies navigate the complex world of Federal and State transportation regulatory compliance. With 25 years of experience in the ditch as a tow operator Brian truly understands the unique needs and challenges faced by towing companies today. He can be reached at brian.riker@fleetcompliancesolutions.net

Do You Charge a ‘Start-the-Truck’ Fee?

D125 1 017 0004 600 16101By Randall C. Resch


A tower messaged me asking, “Why do tow companies almost always seem to have at least a $100 fee (to just start the truck)? I understand the mileage charge to cover operational expense; I just never seem to get a good explanation of the up-front charge to just start the truck.”

I don’t know who told him about up-front charging, but it happens. I’m not so sure about its reasoning, but I have my theories. If the company that’s charging extra doesn’t tow for law enforcement or the highway patrol, their rates typically aren’t regulated in what they can and can’t charge.

I’ve heard how commercial tow companies solicit their accounts with this up-front-charge as a means to justify time it takes to start and warm a heavy wrecker, air-it-up, and then leave the facility. In terms of portal-to-portal charges contract wording may say that time only starts when the wrecker leaves the facility. That doesn’t include “get-ready time.”

In past years of increased fuel costs, companies were allowed to charge a fuel surcharge as an add-on to approved rates; but that fluctuated with the cost of fuel. That’s a reasonable charge and I see no issue in that.

If a tow company is charging an extra $100 bucks as an operational fee, that’s a great way to lose those incoming, first-time callers looking for reasonable rates. However, I also believe that, if a tow owner knows his bottom-line, operational costs, he should know what it costs per hour to run his truck regardless of the size tow truck or the niche they serve. For non-law enforcement companies, the extra $100 is a cost that insurance companies balk at and oftentimes refuse to pay.

If you’re not charging that start-up fee in your area and others are, your pricing would be more attractive to new customers. Wouldn’t that be a great advertising teaser to put on your company’s website that says, “We won’t charge you to start our trucks.” To find what your competition is doing, conduct a little, “Corporate Shopping”, and call around to your local tow companies to see what the others are charging.

All-in-all, when it comes to the rates you charge in the commercial market, it’s a matter of what the market will bear, what your pricing is based and what customers are willing to pay.

There’s a fine line between reasonable rate schedules and gouging the motoring public. It’s one reason why insurance companies and motorists are fearful and reluctant to trust the towing and recovery industry. There’s nothing to say that a company has to charge a start-up fee just to make those extra bucks. If the tow company is charging a start-up fee and the customers don’t take offense to paying the fee, well, good for them.

It comes down to towing and recovery is expensive, and as a tow owner you know this business is a “cash-eating machine.” It takes every dollar to make business run lean and green; but that doesn’t suggest charging to use a fire extinguisher, the ink in your pens, the cost of a printed invoice, the batteries in your flashlight, or cones, flares or signs used at some traffic incident.

There has to be a realization that these things are simply costs of doing business. It’s my opinion that tow trucks have to be started anyway to get to the store or drive home. If that’s the case, who’s paying for that?

Somewhere herein is a lesson learned where that old, “do unto others” thingy comes into play. Ask yourself, “Would you ride Uber if they charged $100 extra to start their vehicles?” Maybe there’s a reason our extra-charging friend runs fewer calls and his trucks are always parked. If he can afford to chase business away, it’s his loss.

Honesty and trust are huge character traits considered as precursors to reputable companies. Accordingly, asking for a start-up fee isn’t what I’d consider a smart way to gain customer trust.

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week’s Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame, and, a recipient of the 2017 Dave Jones Leadership Award.

Change Happens

Label346CallForService 8dda9By Brian J Riker

Change is inevitable. Time doesn’t sit still and neither do our businesses. We can either adapt to the changing environment and thrive … or be left behind and disappear. Our success depends upon how we react to the changes around us daily.

In the 30 years I have been in this industry, I have seen quite a bit of change. My first wrecker was a Holmes 440 with a sling, and we were using it daily as a primary response truck well into the mid ’90s.

A few years later when I opened my first company, I started with a wheel lift and carrier that were much more modern than what I learned on. Progress is what it was, adapting to the modern cars and the market demand for these types of trucks.

As an industry we have seen the same thing happen with how we monitor our drivers, accept requests for service and even payments. I clearly recall having a credit card imprinter in my first truck; today I can take a credit card with my smart phone and have the transaction processed instantly.

Technological advances have helped us be more efficient—an absolute must for survival with the tight margins we are experiencing today. Technology helps us monitor how our drivers treat our trucks, our customers and even protect from false claims by unscrupulous motorists.

What about sales advancements? How many of you used to place a quarter-page ad in the Yellow Pages, slap some stickers with your phone number on the local payphones and maybe sponsor a few bus shelters as your entire marketing campaign? Well, back then that was all that was needed and it worked. Not so much today.

Technology has led to a marked shift in where our sales come from, with everyone seeming to want a piece of the pie. I will be blunt—and many won’t like this—this is not going away. The third-party dispatch providers are here to stay.

Think about how extremely disruptive rideshare apps were to the taxi business. The taxi industry kept ignoring them, adamant that they were just a fad and it would not hurt their business until it did. Had they embraced the concept and figured a way to use their equipment and personnel in a similar manner, the ride share landscape would look vastly different.

I refer to rideshare because it not only closely parallels third-party dispatch concepts, but it’s something most people have used with few reports of any displeasure. I use rideshare services weekly, and the convenience of an app at my fingertips has really improved the quality of my life as a business traveler.

This is the same experience our potential customers want when they break down or are involved in an accident. They want to push one button and summon help, have it paid for with another tap of a button and be done. Several of the tow apps on the market, all tied to third-party dispatching services, accomplish just this.

These services will find towers to do the work while making it easier for many smaller fleets to embrace technology and expand their businesses. A very familiar model for starting a tow company has always been to begin as a motor club provider while building your own loyal customer base.

Unfortunately loyalty is going away, and building a local customer base is becoming increasingly difficult. I do not have all the answers; but I do believe that we need to find a way to work within the new normal: receiving our calls through technology companies.

Being this technology is still relatively new, we have a chance to shape how it works. Maybe some of the larger towers may even develop their own versions of dispatch apps for their customers and license it to their friendly competitors?

I call on my fellow towers to brainstorm solutions to this challenge. How do we as an industry adapt to the new normal and still thrive? Let’s hear it, I am always open to learn something new.

I do know that we cannot sit by and let change happen to us; we must take action to help shape that change.

Brian J Riker is a third generation towman and President of Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC. He specializes in helping non-traditional fleets such as towing, repossession, and construction companies navigate the complex world of Federal and State transportation regulatory compliance. With 25 years of experience in the ditch as a tow operator Brian truly understands the unique needs and challenges faced by towing companies today. He can be reached at brian.riker@fleetcompliancesolutions.net
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July 17 - July 23, 2019

Viewing a Vintage Vehicle

00 9c354By George L. Nitti

When you’ve been in business for 100 years, it is time for a special anniversary celebration.

Platt’s Garage of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, hit its 100-year milestone this year, proud professionals since 1919.

At the Wisconsin Tow Show in June, Platt’s showcased several of its vintage wreckers from days gone by, including a 1930 Ford Model AA, ’31 Ford Model AA, ’33 Model B and a ’36 Ford 1.5-ton with a ’36 Holmes Model 250 utility wrecker.

It was the latter wrecker that won second place in the Vintage Class at the tow show.

“My grandfather bought it in 1941. Red and white was its original colors,” said Mark Platt, who is co-owner with his brother Marty.

The wrecker was used up through the mid-1950s when it was finally retired with about 46,000 miles. The company kept it for many years thereafter, but by 1980 decided to sell it.

“I traded it for some bulldozer work,” Platt said. “But I always wanted it back because they never did anything with it. We repurchased it two years ago and did the restoration this year.”

Besides its vintage quality and customized red and white paint scheme, the catchy slogan is just as relevant today as it was then: “Our business is picking up.”

Reflecting its old age is an old phone number written on the side of the unit: 204W.

“It was the original phone number they had on the switchboard,” Platt said. “It is right on both sides of the body.”

Although honoring the past with the restoration of several vintage wreckers, today Platt’s is equipped with the latest in towing equipment, software applications and safety measures available in the industry.

Yet, it’s always a pleasure to take it for a drive.

“I took it to lunch yesterday,” Platt said. “It was a nice day. People were walking around it and taking pictures.”

Brag @ TIW! Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at bdooley@towman.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!

Purple People Pleaser

0 bdba6By George L. Nitti

In marketing, colors play an important role in influencing consumers.

When Everett Hibler, owner of Al’s Garage/Hibler’s Towing and Recovery in Binghamton, New York, started his towing business in 1975, the primary reason he chose the color purple was due to some research he had read.

“I went with purple some years ago,” Hibler remarked, “because I found an article that stated it was very pleasing to females and that it could increase business.”

At the time, Hibler was doing a lot of light-duty towing and many of the phone calls he received were from women.

About five years ago, the company repainted their unique 1990 Kenworth T800/NRC 40-ton slider, giving it two shades of colors: purple and pink.

The two colors complement each other nicely

“It was getting pretty rusty and needed to get repainted,” Hibler said. “Today, it has about 1.3 million miles on it.”

Found on the side of the unit are a couple of images. At the front end, following a thick, white-gray area at the bottom of the truck that looks like chrome plating, is an image of a skull.

Hibler said, “The skull was my son’s idea. It’s something he wanted on it.”

The second image is a bulldog, which was added because one of Hibler’s employees has a bulldog and thought it would look nice on the side. Above it is states, “The Decision Maker.”

The yellow lettering on the side of the truck and boom also contrasts nicely with the purple and pink colors, making all of the lettering easy to be read.

“What makes the truck interesting are its colors,” Hibler said. “The kids love it and it just took second place in a Heavy-Duty category at the (Empire State Towing & Recovery Association) tow show.”

Brag @ TIW! Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at bdooley@towman.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!

Celebrating America

0 7fd77By George L. Nitti

Lisi’s Towing, Automotive and Truck Repair Services of Brewster, New York, has turned many heads with its sharp-looking tow trucks. The company is owned by Anthony Lisi Sr.

Assistant Operations Manager Violet Lisi said a motorist was so impressed by their design that they shot video of it when they were called to tow a stuck motor home last week.

The truck was their impressive, patriotic-themed 2016 Peterbuilt 389 with a Century 1150 rotator.

“[He] called us and said to me, ‘We saw this beautiful truck and I took a video of it and I wanted to send it to you.’ They shared it with us on their Instagram page,” Lisi said.

The key imagery of the truck highlights the company name in gold on the side of the unit. A large part of the American flag covers the length of the unit.

The unit, one of two patriotic-themed trucks in their large fleet, was designed by Violet’s brother Anthony Lisi Jr. The wrap was executed by 32 Signs in Connecticut.

“My brother was the mind behind the masterpiece,” she said. “In high school he had a knack for drawing cars. He’s very talented.”

“We are very patriotic,” Violet said. “Our veterans have provided us with safety and we are a great country. We embrace that.”

Stylistically, the truck maintains its white, gold and maroon colors but the company has sought to cultivate a new style.

“The old style has flames, which we never liked,” Violet said. “It was too flashy. We wanted to go with something that was fresh and crisp.” At night, the unit pops, as there are a large number of lights on it. Violet added that the lights were on the truck largely for safety.

Other features of the unit include a tribute on the front of the grill that states, “Pulling for Danielle.”

Violet stated, “Danielle is our older sister. She was in a car accident when she was 16 and has been disabled since. We had the bumper welded on.”

Brag @ TIW! Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at bdooley@towman.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!
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July 17 - July 23, 2019

Maintenance-Free Dollies from ITD

inthe2343 99cc7In The Ditch recently released its all-new X-Series Dolly, the XL. The XL models offer eXtended Life automotive sealed hubs that never need grease. The X-Series Dolly sets come in two sizes: standard SD and larger XD. Ergonomic and lightweight, both SD and XD models include bolt-on, easily replaceable spindles with high-wear bushings.

intheditch.com

Haltzgloves’ High-Vis Traffic Gloves

gloves b6520Haltzgloves’ new Nighttime Traffic Full Gloves feature high-visibility reflective materials to help be seen at night. According to the company, the patented materials provides outward reflective visibility at up to 1,250 linear feet. Traffic officer Deidre Goodwin created the high-vis gloves after experiencing near-misses working the busy roads in Atlanta, Georgia.

haltzgloves.com
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July 17 - July 23, 2019
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July 17 - July 23, 2019
Bailey Woodward (right) is wanted for felony robbery after police say he violently stopped repo agent Jimmy Bayless (left) from repossessing his car June 14. Image - wlwt.com.

Maryland Leads in [b]60-Day Delinquencies

Findings from Experian’s Q1 2019 State of the Automotive Finance Market report showed that while Louisiana and Mississippi still have some of the highest rates, analysts indicated that leading the country continues to be Maryland with a 60-day delinquency rate of 1.49 percent.

Those Gulf Coast states weren’t far off that leading pace as Experian pegged Mississippi’s rate at 1.19 percent and Louisiana’s reading at 1.13 percent.

Maryland tied with Mississippi for the highest rate to close 2018 as Experian noted each state’s 60-day delinquency rate stood at 1.68 percent.

All told, Experian said the overall 60-day delinquency rate remained flat at 0.68 percent after the first quarter.

At the state-level data, the top 10 rates for delinquency were:

Maryland, 1.49 percent; Mississippi, 1.19 percent; Louisiana, 1.13 percent; South Carolina, 0.95 percent; Georgia, 0.93 percent; Alabama, 0.89 percent; Nevada, 0.78 percent; Texas, 0.78 percent; Arkansas, 0.77 percent; North Carolina, 0.77 percent.

Source: autoremarketing.com.

Man Admits to Attacking [b]Repo Agents

A Maryland man has pleaded guilty in the assault of three repo men who were attacked while they were trying to collect his tow truck, police said.

Derrell Brown, 31, of Upper Marlboro faces up to 10 years in prison for the Dec. 20 incident, Seat Pleasant police announced June 19.

Brown and another person attacked a 26-year-old man who was trying to repossess Brown’s tow truck about 4:30 p.m., police said.

“Without provocation, Brown launched an attack, punching and kicking the victim in his face and torso area,” police said in a statement.

Brown hit the man in the head with a metal pipe and held him down while a second person took the victim’s wallet and keys, police said.

During the attack, two other repo men arrived and found their colleague bleeding, police said.

Brown assaulted the two men who tried to help their co-worker before the repo men escaped and found help.

Police spokesman Marcus Jones said investigators arrested Brown after linking him to information from his tow truck and the repossession company.

The second man involved in the attack was arrested but not prosecuted, Jones said.

Brown’s attorney could not be reached for comment.

Source: washingtonpost.com.

Search for Man Who [b]Tried to Prevent Repo

A Cincinnati, Ohio, man is wanted on a charge of felony robbery after police say he violently stopped a tow truck driver from repossessing his car June 14.

Police say 25-year-old Bailey Woodward is the man responsible.

City-Wide Towing and Recovery’s Jimmy Bayless was the agent involved.

"I usually have my GoPro on my head most of the time, except that day I didn't have it on me," Bayless said.

When Woodward went into a store, Bayless loaded the man's Hyundai Sonata onto his tow truck. Moments later, Bayless said it became a battle to break away.

"He jumped in and I was fighting him for the controls to make the lift go up and down," Bayless said.

Police said Woodward and a friend punched Bayless in an effort to take back the car.

Eventually, the two drove the vehicle off the lift and took off.

Two days after the incident, Bayless went to Woodward's home and successfully recovered his car.

Source: wlwt.com.

AT Magazine to Focus [b]on Repo in July

American Towman Magazine’s July issue will have a special focus on the topic of repossession. If you service the repossession industry, it will be a must-see issue.

Topics will include: advances in skip-tracing and license plate recognition tips and tools; the need for professional training of all staff, and recommended agencies such as RISC, CARS, etc.; legal advice regarding breach of peace; the latest in light-duty trucks and wheel-lift equipment specs; and tips on towing vehicles that have no keys/missing keys/locked ignitions.

Source: AT staff.
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